What you don’t see when you’re a “good guy”

Kate Harding is stunned by an unexpected response from a Random Guy to her asserting herself, and then makes some connections and intersections:

And you know, the worst part is, my boyfriend was sitting right by the window inside, a foot away from me but totally unaware of what was going on. I think about that a lot””how Al, who knows everything else about my daily life intimately, never gets to witness this part of it. Because of course they don’t do it when you’re with a guy. (And that fact right there should put paid to any argument that they weren’t hitting on you, they didn’t mean anything by it. Really? Okay, well then why don’t you get in my face and demand a conversation while my 6″²2″³ boyfriend is standing next to me? I mean, you’re just being friendly, right? He’s a really nice guy! You’d like him!)

And that’s one of the problems, I think, for good guys, potential allies, trying to process what women are saying about this shit. When we talk about getting hit on by strange men, the good guys think of their own experiences with hitting on women””how much courage it takes to strike up a conversation, how humiliating it is to get shot down, how they’re always polite and respectful and quick to back off when it goes badly. So they assume we’re just misunderstanding or overreacting. But the thing is, we’re not talking about those guys at all. We like those guys. Sometimes we even date those guys after meeting them in bars. We’re talking about a category of guys those guys almost never get to see in action””but whom we see in action literally every single day, if we live in cities and leave our apartments alone.

I know how hard it can be to get your head around the fact that you’re part of a broader group that frequently does display a pattern of assholishness, while also being part of a smaller subgroup that doesn’t. A couple of years ago, I was involved in a committee dust-up that resulted in accusations of racism against me and a few other liberal white women. We were all appalled, offended, mortified by being classified as racists, since that truly had nothing to do with the decision in question (to give control of a project to the white woman who volunteered first instead of the black woman who volunteered second). And from there, it was a depressingly short leap for all of us to, “She’s crazy! She’s hysterical! She’s got such a huge fucking chip on her shoulder, she can’t even see logic!”

Hmm. Where have I heard all that before?

Read the rest.

Categories: gender & feminism, relationships, social justice

Tags: , ,

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