I'm Not Mad at the Woman Who Probably Thought I Was Going to Rape Her

Categories: Random Ephemera

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Penny Arcade
Penny Arcade's response to people offended by the "Dickwolves" comic
The other day I had an article that just was not coming together. I don't remember what it was... stupidest haircuts in Final Fantasy or something non-essential like that. I decided that I needed to go outside to walk and clear my head so I walked to the Sonic nearby to take advantage of the Happy Hour. Nothing makes a Route 44 Coke Zero taste better than only paying half the normal retail price.

While I was waiting on my drink I noticed a woman walk past the restaurant wearing a Kroger uniform. She was obviously heading home after her shift. She was my age, maybe a little older, slight, pretty in a girl-next-door sort of way with frizzy hair and some rather impressively thick glasses I thought were adorable. I didn't think much about her beyond simply noticing her before being distracted to pay for my soda. Once accomplished, I started walking the same direction she was going on my way back to work.

I wasn't really thinking of anything in particular... just letting the wheels of writing turn in my head while I zoned out. I was brought back into focus when I realized I was about to walk right into the woman in front of me, who apparently didn't have as fast a gait as I did. She turned around startled just as I observed to myself, "It's probably not a good idea to give off the appearance of a man sneaking up behind a woman. That's a little rape-y."

See also: Mrs. Hall, You Can Actually See a Girl Naked Then Treat Her Like a Human Being

She didn't scream or whip out a can of Mace or anything, and I smiled a little and held up my cup as a sort of, "Would a rapist have such an improbably large drink?" gesture. She somewhat hesitantly returned my smile, but immediately moved sidewise into a nearby parking lot away from the shadow of the trees and the line of bushes that grew along the sidewalk. Every bit of body language screamed, "I'm sorry, but I'm scared of you."

I just nodded, still smiling, and walked on ahead of her toward my door.

There's a recurring motif I find when I masochistically peruse Men's Rights blogs, and that it is somehow worse to have someone be worried that you might be a rapist than to actually be afraid of being raped. More than that, but that such a fear is proof of a woman's blatant hatred of men, and that it constitutes discrimination and attack.

I'm not going to pretend that a part of me deep down wasn't thinking about saying something along the lines of, "Jeez, lady, lighten up." After all, I was just a man with a drink walking down the street minding my own business and thinking the least rape-like of thoughts. Suddenly there's some woman treating me like a criminal.

Yeah, there's a bit of me that felt that way, but there's a bigger part of me that truly understands the concept of privilege. The Men's Right crowd likes to call what I feel guilt. I feel guilty that some men rape woman. I feel guilty that some men have taken advantage of women in a variety of ways over the course of history. In short, because men are this perfectly united and homogeneous group with absolutely no dissension among us, I must be assuming that the work of criminals among my "class" should speak ill of me personally.

Piece continues on next page.

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30 comments
Bert27
Bert27

I'm sort of lucky in that I don't have to do things like that just for women but for everyone, since I'm a very tall and broad shouldered man with the meanest face you ever saw I always get really nervous looks after dark even from men. The worst is when you're alone on a train with a woman after 11 P.M. I always feel terrible but then I remind myself "hey you aren't going to rape, rob, or hassle this here woman, in fact while she may be uncomfortable you can relax knowing that as long as you're here no one will mess with her", thoough this gallantry works both ways, I'll defend a lone male just as much as a lone female and all its ever taken is a snarl because to reiterate I look like I could kill someone and probably could with one bare hand. Ha if only they knew what a bleeding heart, cat lover I am! Although I have certainly invaded a womans personal space in dark parking garages and streets, I'll be daydreaming and suddenly hear a squeal and see the look of sheer terror on a womans face after I've snuck up on them on a dark street, I feel so bad but I'm quiet and tall so I really don't always see people and I just want to yell "no I've got a mother and sisters" but I suppose most rapists have a mother and some even have sisters but I don't understand how they do what they do knowing that, anyway I think my equally horrified face makes them realize that I'm just as scared of them as they are of me. Also I'm white, people think I'm a mugger, I don't blame them. One thing I might add is most men should not walk alone at night and assume they won't become victims of a violent crime, it is just this attitude and lack of caution that makes men more likely to be targeted by strangers for violent crime (remember most women do not get raped in some dark alley, possibly because they unfortunately fear such a situation and stay inside). I'm so sorry about this spiel, I felt the need to share...

sajacks
sajacks

This article was so good! I can vividly remember once about to go to my car door, keys in hand and a white guy (I'm white also) approached me and he stopped himself for fear of entering my "space" and looked at me but went way around another car instead of continuing his walk. I remember exactly what his face looked like even though it was maybe 20 years ago. I did not have the chance to say anything or smile or react in any way because this was the first time I had felt the impact of all abuse and what it does to the way we have to behave in society. I  immediately wanted to say something but since he acted so quickly to avert any scenario we may have had, I was silent. I wish he knew how I had felt.

eudemonist
eudemonist

I've done the same before, I'll notice someone (an african-american) walking behind me, I'm alone, and his footsteps keep getting louder and louder. My heart starts racing and all I can think of is to get somewhere safe. Overreacting? Yeah, of course. But these are scary times we live in. I don't think I'm paranoid, just overly cautious. -No offense to the african-americans that aren't potential muggers.

amanda.grace
amanda.grace

THIS EXACTLY THIS AND SO MUCH THIS. You said what I have tried to put into words in the past, only better and more concisely than I ever could.

Ken Roberts
Ken Roberts

Thanks. I appreciated that. If anyone reading feels compelled to help spread awareness and to provide shelter and counseling to survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence, signup for the Houston Area Women's Centers Race Against Violence is up and running. The race/walk isn't until February 22, but you can signup now and start raising money if you're so inclined. It's a fantastic event for one of the very best causes. They raised $250K last year. Hopefully, they'll exceed that mark this year. http://hawc.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.event&eventID=530

wordlover
wordlover

I've done the same before, I'll notice someone (a man) walking behind me, I'm alone, and his footsteps keep getting louder and louder.  My heart starts racing and all I can think of is to get somewhere safe.  Overreacting? Yeah, of course.  But these are scary times we live in.  I don't think I'm paranoid, just overly cautious. -No offense to the men that aren't potential rapists.

Loona_c
Loona_c

Good perspective.  It is a shame that women have to assume ALL men who approach them might be rapists.  Unfortunately that's the way it is.  It's an annoying way to live.  I can't just sit at a bus stop or read a book on a park bench without being alert and aware of my surroundings.  And I have been harassed in both situations.   The worry of being raped is exacerbated by situations of lewd comments and actions.

MadMac
MadMac

The man's-rights clown who protests the loudest is the same one who defends racial profiling based his fear of "them." When I was 19, I walked up on a blue-haired lady on my way into my apartment complex late one night. Knowing I looked like a shorter/plumper Chewbacca, I decided to speak as I passed, you know, to put put her at ease. The last thing I saw was the nozzle of the mace can. 

As much as that hurt--in actual pain as well as days of "what's that smell?" embarrassment--I couldn't hold a grudge. It seems like I never DIDN'T know what rape was. It seems like every woman I've ever known has been assaulted--to one degree or another. Your good work goes a long way to spread the understanding, Mr. F. I know what I'll be tweeting/fb'ing when I'm off Uncle Sugar's dime.

godette
godette

My ultimate compliment to a man in the ever-changing gender war - you get it.

cfein
cfein

Y'know, generally, I'm not big on the concept of "more humans." There are enough humans. However... we are in dire need of more humans like you. And here's hoping the gal who sparked this piece gets to read it. If I were in her shoes, I'd want to see this -- and yeah, the whole treat-every-man-as-a-potential-attacker thing makes US feel like dog turds, too. Thanks.

JefWithOneF
JefWithOneF topcommenter

@Bert27  I appreciate it. What a wonderful perspective, Thanks for saying something. 

JefWithOneF
JefWithOneF topcommenter

@Kathryn Melton I hope so

MadMac
MadMac

@eudemonist

In the US, six of ten women are sexually assaulted--by men--before the age of 18. Nine of ten of women are sexually assaulted--by men--in their life time. Around the world lesbians face purity/conversion rape--by men. I haven't read the percentage of victims of assaults/robberies/muggings--by any ethnic group but I've read enough public policy, health, and crime stats to know your racist apologia/analogy SUKKS.   

sylviamcivers
sylviamcivers

@eudemonist  

Many african-americans who have to deal with that crap blame the muggers who set up the situation, not the people who are afraid.  and many actively take steps not to be seen as a threat - unlike the guy who followed a woman out of the coffee shop and then touched her... by accident, sure, but how should she know?

JefWithOneF
JefWithOneF topcommenter

@wordlover None taken. You know, I remember a time when we apologized for startling strangers instead of bitching about misandry or whatever made up crap the MRAs talk about. 

JefWithOneF
JefWithOneF topcommenter

@Loona_c It is a shame, and a whole swath of dumbasses assuming it doesn't really happen doesn't help. That's why we've got to just keep talking about it until the reality sits on their heads. 

JefWithOneF
JefWithOneF topcommenter

@MadMac I think that's the longest comment you've ever left. Sorry you got maced. I understand what you mean. If someone was bit by a stray dog, you wouldn't be mad at them for being cautious around stray dogs in the future. Why should rape or sexual assault be different?

JefWithOneF
JefWithOneF topcommenter

@godette I try. You learn a bit every day. At least you should. 

eudemonist
eudemonist

@sylviamcivers Should they _have_ to "actively take steps" to not be seen as a threat?  Should the African-American community shoulder the blame for extant racism because some members of their community are bad actors?  Does that make the little old lady crossing the street when she sees a "colored" coming somehow justified in her prejudices? 

I don't believe so.

eudemonist
eudemonist

@JefWithOneF @MadMac I like how you only endorse certain prejudices.  The same folks that would never stand for racial profiling have no problem with doing so according to gender.

MadMac
MadMac

Yeah, the whole "my twig n' berries are the center of the universe," entitlement really honks me off. Especially on a Monday.

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