justaskfirst (justaskfirst) wrote in beniceorshutup,

sound familiar?

on a friend's college campus, some rule was presented to prohibit "the overt male gaze". He is frustrated and insulted byt the overt sexism inherent in this decree. I do not have a copy of the actual statement, if he posts it I will present it for clarification. my response to him:

Speaking as a young, pretty woman, I can admit to a bit of exasperation with being looked over all the time, but I generally take it as a compliment, as long as no nasty comments or innuendo is conveyed. Then again, I am visibly married, dress rather conservatively, and my husband is on campus with me often, so perhaps I am not subject to the forward body language that some girls are exposed to. I am submissive; I would prefer to evade physical conflict than win it, and do not have anything to prove whatsoever regarding my capability for self-defense. I am a woman, not a tall or self-defense trained one, and try to live in a way in the city that allows me to be and feel like one, in a somewhat traditional sense. This generally involves being cognisant and following some simple rules. I carry a knife, and have only had to pull it once. The situation instantly dissolved.

I am small, and have the physical form earlier referred to, and it is taken for granted that I must watch myself in any public space; I live in the heart of Phoenix, and it would be unwise to to be unaware of other people's proximity and response to me. I am used to being the potential prey in public situations, but I have found that acting modestly and graciously prevents men from apporaching me, and when any do, others will defend me, stepping closer to me and sending a clear message. Most inclined to get too close or invade my space: thirty-something white men. Most often intimidating the approacher or outright telling them to leave me alone: sixty-something black or hispanic men or women. If a fifty-year old woman is riding the city bus, she is not to be fucked with, let me warn you. She is either on meth or someone's mama, and in neither situation would the short, messy sex be worth the danger to life, limb, or penis. That's Phoenix for you. The wealthy, worthless upper middle class does not actually walk on the sidewalk or ride the bus, so they are a population I have virtually no interaction with.

What's it like to be automatically considered a predator? I do feel sorry for you, you will not escape it.

Since I live in a prart of the city where the murder rate and crime rate are fairly high, and the police will block off the street to follow the blood trail or bust a meth house, when I first see a man anywhere in my vicinty, I automatically size up his weight and reach, and stay out of the way. I will enforce that space until we part direction. If we are forced into contact, I keep my eyes and head down to a) watch where he is putting his body weight and b)avoid conveying approach or conflict. This is mostlt because we have a very large recent-immigrant hispanic male population, and though that demographic is not scary per se, the thirty-something male group has a clear cultural body language standard: if a woman looks too long at a man, (.004 seconds) it is considered a sexual advance, and will be followed quickly by a response inkind.

This is the way I live, it is taken for granted. I was never taught this in any overt way, and most men are not aware that there are these and many other strategies employed in public by women. If we have any sense, we learn early. If not, we pay early. This is what it feels like:

Everywhere I go, I feel your eyes, I see your hands, stronger than mine by default. You size me up, you shift in your seat. You scan, lingering on my breats, regardless of my clothes. Your fingers move, you are unaware of this response, I am not. I see the muscles on your arms move, your thick neck, your weight. Your shirts bind across your shoulders. You swing your heavy bag up to your table with ease. You crush a can in your hand without a thought, you move furniture I cannot lift. You are programmed to respond to me, your wiring was arranged completely without your input. Your gaze follows me off the bus, around the corner. Your body is not entirely under your control, and though I do not hold that against you, I do not make the mistake of giving you the benefit of the doubt. Every single other man is like you, and I can not ever let down my gaurd. You are everywhere, there are often more of you. Your skin would not feel my blows, you can bind my wrists with no effort, you can shove me into your car effortlessly if I put myself near it. One blow and I would be flat out, I could bite and scratch and it would not slow you down. The bike I ride, the backpack I carry, is of fairly good quality, you evaluate it as I approack. If inclined, you can really, really hurt me, quickly and silently, needing no weapon. Even in my sensible tennis shoes your stride would outdistance me within seconds. I never, ever forget this, the moment I step out the door it is on my mind until I come home. When I am home, there are only doors between us, and I have seen you smash them down easily. You are in charge, you always have been, and there has only been death and war to show for it. Many of you love weapons, and in my state, many of you carry them. You kill each other frivolously, you beat your women, you do not seem to understand or percive the subtlety women use to communicate. You compete, you boast, you are proud of conquest. Your pornography is horrific, you desire children, which we cannot comprehend. Your movies are barbaric. Your intentions are clear. When angry you terrify, we see your face slip into something primitive. When you curse you bare your teeth.

It's not your fault you were born a meat eater, we have no choice but to try to pull your wings off. It's the closest thing to gelding you we can get away with. We can't trust you to stay out of the cave of your hindbrain, since when you visit, the results are so very, very bad. If putting a political butt-plug in you enforces your position, then so be it. We are simply tired of watching you all the time, we are angry, we want to strangle and oppress you, beat you down. We regret the necessity, but not much. It's your turn.

That's why women love gay men so much. We love men, and usually really enjoy your y-chromosomeness and everything it brings. Men are sensible, often logical and overt. Their heirarchy is simpler, they are not so convoluted, they are generally a delight, but it is never far from a woman's mind that in almost any direct physical conflict she would be overwhelmed instantly. Of course, we are women, and never to be trusted. We also have a bit of an axe to grind.

This sounds very victim-esque, and is generally only a quiet hum in the back of our heads, not nearly so overt as presented here. It's just what is done if you are a girl in the city, who must walk to the bus and bicycle to work. I apologise for being so long-winded; it is a difficult state of mind to express. It certaintly does not justify paranoid barbarity, but this presentation might elucidate the motive a bit. This is a city, and the ante is up, this social situation is surely not universal.

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