While walking my dog one morning, I paused on the corner of my street as he was doing his business. A man in a car was making a left hand turn towards my block and practically leaned out his window, watching me as he made the turn. I found myself suddenly very conscious of myself. I was being watched. Who else was watching? Watching me walk. Watching me bend over to pick up my dog’s shit. Watching me walk in a daze because I haven’t had my morning coffee yet.
And I wondered if men have any idea how this feels.
After the PSA from Just Not Sports showing men reading horrible tweets to female sportswriters Sarah Spain and Julie DiCaro came out, I was simultaneously proud of them for putting themselves out there in such a way and also disheartened at the inevitable backlash they, and anyone standing up for them, would face.
There are people out there saying the tweets read were fake (nice name, coward):
There are people saying this happens to men too (LOL):
Or perhaps they’re jealous of the harassment?
Aw, I’m sorry… I didn’t realize you wanted to be told that you should be raped.
Unfortunately there’s also this really weird side effect happening. And it’s called #NotAllMen… the feminist equivalent of #AllLivesMatter (from Jezebel):
Oh sure, it looks like it’s supportive by calling those vile tweets “shit,” but somehow the poster made men the victims—taking the hit for the supposed small minority of men.
But stay with me, here’s where things get tricky. Going and attacking these men for making these comments isn’t making things any better.
The point of this PSA was to show how bad things can be for women in sports. The very nature of women working in a profession that has long been dominated by men seems to rile people up (how dare they have thoughts on sports). Their male counterparts may receive angry tweets, but they will be about the content of what they write. Skip Bayless is awful, but are people telling him he should be raped? Or that he should go back into the kitchen? No, they mock what he says.
This PSA fired a lot of people up because it highlights the disparity on how women are treated. So many women face harassment on a daily basis. Whether it’s catcalling on the street or threatening tweets, it’s happening all the time. And for men to dismiss it by saying that it’s just a small percentage of men doing it… well, it feels like giving permission to these situations.
I know there are great guys out there. I’m fortunate to be friends with many who love and support me as a woman. I know not all men say and do terrible things to women. But enough of them do. Enough that I can’t just have a relaxing walk with my dog in the morning without wondering who’s watching me.
I never want to discourage men from speaking up in support of feminism and #MoreThanMean and other equality initiatives. I think men are valued in the conversation here. Essential, even. And that’s the point. It’s a conversation. We all need to have a place here. Listen to each other. And hopefully attempt to reach understanding and sympathy.