A simple example of being a feminist, a fighter and a human being

Alright, so let me start out by saying that this post was inspired by the amazing @Emrazz (https://twitter.com/emrazz).

The hashtag is part of a Twitter trend about guys telling other guys that misogynistic behaviour is unwelcome and discouraged around them.  She put out a challenge asking for guys claiming to be “allies” to put out their stories about it.

I’ve never been in that position, personally.  For reasons I suspect that have to do with what I look like and the crowd I hang with, I don’t easily recall anything like that happening around me.

If it has, and I missed it, let me straight up apologize to those affected.  If I had registered it, I would have acted. I’m sorry I let you down.

Now, let me pause the start by telling you that if you aren’t following @Emrazz on Twitter, and you’re at all interesting in women’s rights issues, you’re missing out.  She’s smart, sharp, articulate and takes no prisoners.

So let’s get back to the start.  What I want to talk about is the time I made someone feel unsafe.

I’ve actually got two stories.  In both cases what was going on in my head had nothing to do with what the other person saw / heard and reacted to.  That’s not the point.  The point is that

“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one”

Albert Einstein

What we all see, what we all experience, is not a universal reality.  It’s our personal copy of it.  There are a lot of influences in our past that colour how we perceive that reality.

According to the Citizenship website for the Province of Ontario,  39% of women encounter “at least one incidence of sexual assault since the age of 16” (http://www.citizenship.gov.on.ca/owd/english/ending-violence/sexual_violence.shtml).    That means that more than 1 in 3 women is a survivor in some capacity.

The website also says that “Women are eleven times more likely than men to be victims of sexual offences” and, most importantly to our discussion:

“In 99% of sexual violence incidents committed against women, the accused perpetrator is male.”

Citizenship website for the Province of Ontario

This is Canada we’re talking about folks.  You know, the place that prides itself on all that forward thinking and politeness.  Yeah, our house is a mess, too.

So, that brings me to talking about me in a car parkade in Charlottetown, PE.  That’s the land of “Anne of Green Gables”, for those of you who are fans.

The background on me is that I’m 1.8m / 6’ tall, and about 80kg / 200#.  I have dark hair, and due to my own background with bullying, martial arts and other baggage, I move like a monster.  I’m ex-military so I march when I walk.  I love dark jackets, faded denim and heavy boots.

In other words, I look like the pop-up guest at the end of any victim’s personal slasher movie.  I weird large dogs out.  When I lived in Montreal, I was mistaken for an organized crime enforcer twice; once by a businessman, once by a cop.  It’s just my aura when I’m somewhere by my onesies.  I know that about myself.  

Blame me, blame the Trenchcoat Mafia, blame Hollywood cliches, whatever.  It is what it is.

So I’m downtown doing some errands.  My ride is in the local five-deck parkade.  It’s the middle of the afternoon, which means that the current population of said location is the gate cashier, me, and the person I’m about fifteen paces behind on the third deck.

Now, I notice they keep looking over their shoulder at me, and have visibly picked up their walking pace.  I walk fast normally, so their fast isn’t opening the distance.  It is really bloody apparent they are worried about me.

So I stopped.

I walked over to a nearby pillar, turned my back to them, leaned against it and waited until I heard their car door close.  Then I waited until the engine started.  Only then did I start heading to my ride.

I waved “hello” to them as they went by me.  No, really, it was that easy.  

Total cost to me?  A bit of sadness for the world I live in, and 45 seconds. 

So let me be blunt, if that much awareness of the world around you seems magic, please go get counselling.  If the idea that I had to take an extra sub-minute of my day to make someone else feel secure because of how I look verses who I am, please go get counselling.

You’re borken.  Badly borken.  You’ll be happier talking to someone that can help you understand the rest of your fellow humans.

And I get that.  I really do.  I’m on the so-called “Autism Spectrum” and I’ve literally had to learn everything about how other people work by study.  I did it.  You can do it, too.

Story #2.

I’m at a party with my new lady-friend.  Lots of laughing, music, food and liquor.  Lots of pretty people; lots of folks being flirty.  

So I’m chatting with someone else at the party I’ve known for a while, and make what I thought was a flattering compliment about her outfit.  I could feel the ice form in the air between us, she frowned for a moment and sharply said “I don’t poach.  Take it elsewhere.”

Ok, so, let’s back this truck up.  I’m a clothing tramp, I love nice stuff on attractive people of either gender, and I really was just complimenting her on the outfit.  That was it.  I don’t even think I was being that much of a flirt, which admittedly is something I like to do if I know the other person is OK with it.

So, what did I do, given her out-of-left-field reaction?

I sincerely apologized for offending her, literally bowed out, and left her be.

This isn’t hard guys.  It really bloody isn’t.  It’s not about bloody you.  It’s about them.  

Women live in a world where a number approaching half of the ones you know are going to be assaulted by a man at some level.  In some cases, multiple times.  If you don’t know any, it’s because the women in your life think you’re part of the problem.

I know this, because I’ve asked.  I’m a writer, and I’m human being.  If you want to know someone’s experiences, you have to ask and then shut up.

Of the women I know, it’s nearly sixty percent.  Of them, a quarter were more than once, and of them quarter were systemically preyed upon.

They are allowed to be afraid of men.  We’ve earned that.  We’re the Judges that let Brock Turners walk.  We dress like tough guys, we talk smack and violence and then claim that they are the ones that need to lighten up.

No.  We are. Learn it. Accept it. Work to fix it. Because I will tell you that it’s #NotCoolMan if you’re around me with that garbage style.

So, yeah.   That’s it for me.  

Don’t forget to follow @Emrazz (https://twitter.com/emrazz),@DrPsyBuffy  (https://twitter.com/DrPsyBuffy), and @Shakestweetz (https://twitter.com/Shakestweetz) on Twitter.  Trust me, they’re worth the read.

I look forward to your comments below.  Keep it clean, post your sources and let’s talk about a better world.