(Trigger warning) Things like the comment, in the photo below, happen to all walks of life. Regardless of your gender, a message like the one in the photo is uncalled for and creepy. This experience, however, (as insignificant as it may seem) is experienced differently based on gender.
The male experience: likely go about his business. Maybe call the person sending the message "crazy" or "a clinger". He may laugh or shrug it off, or tell the story to entertain his pals. But overall his life stays relatively the same; unchanged from the experience.
The female experience: flashbacks, images, feelings, scents and sounds come flooding back from the dozens or more times she's truly questioned her safety due to similar uncalled for and inappropriate gestures. She physically recoils from past glances, "slips" or "accidental brushes" of someone's body against hers. She is taken right back to her body in the moments she wondered if this would be the day she was overpowered, assaulted, killed, or worse. Regardless of the time that has passed, now she sees the darkness, or the figure, or the face. She's engulfed in the words or the heartache or the shame of the experiences she hopes to never think about again. And she is, once again, a different person than she was a minute before this experience. She trusts a little less. Or cancels plans. She turns down a get together or a seemingly nice guy's offer to take her out. She chooses the longer walk, in exchange for it being well lit. She questions herself before going to parks, house parties, bars, walking down the street, choosing an outfit... because she knows how easily friendly turns into creepy, drivers/workers/walkers turn into cat calls or being followed, a dinner turns into expectations, and the night brings out devils. JuneBridals wedding reception dress
She knows all too well that "I don't know, or even "no", means nothing to some. She knows that people will ask if she had been drinking, if she flirted, or if she was dressed in a way that brought it upon herself. She knows that, even with evidence or witnesses or scrapes or bruises, there often isn't a sentence given. That judges and the media are more likely to question a man's swimming record or the negative impact a charge would have on his future... than believe her when she speaks of the trauma, and stands before them forever changed by the experience. She knows that there is no way that anyone can measure or understand the real cost, without having survived it too... but she wouldn't wish that on anyone. So she isn't believed or vindicated. She tries to persist, despite injustice. She moves on with her life because there are no other options. And she tries to regain control over her body, her mind, her memory. That is until the next catcall, or group of ogglers, or someone standing too close, or not hearing her say no.... and it all comes flooding back.
And if you can truly say that you cannot relate to the above: your privilege is showing. Because privilege doesn't mean wealthy or powerful or white. It means you've benefited in an area that others have struggled. That the struggles of others have benefited you whether directly or indirectly, whether intentionally or unintentionally, whether you want the benefit or not. The same system that allows him to walk confidently or without fear... it is the same system the creates her fear and the.. far too many... validations of that fear.
Please try to open your eyes to your privilege. Try to see it, or at the very least believe those who tell you it's there.... because they are experiencing the other side of that coin. The other end of that seesaw. And the proof is just that.... It's in the very definition, and at its very core..... some people will experience it and others won't. And those who don't...won't believe or see it. And not seeing or believing perpetuates the cycle and keeps the very systems in place which create the advantaged vs disadvantaged seesaws that we are on. So in doing nothing, you contribute. Not deciding, is deciding. Silence is as stance. And disbelief is oppression.
People literally have to shout "me too" or "black lives matter" or "I have a dream"..... because those who benefit aren't listening. Because change feels threatening to those who are profiting. And lifting others up can be viewed as lowering oneself if you look at it through privilege. So PLEASE try to change your perspective, remove your lenses, see the other end of the spectrum. But if you aren't there, just believe those of us who are.
The use of "males" in this example was due to ease, and in no way means that men cannot relate, or that every woman can. However, males are a privileged group in our society. Don't believe me? Read again.