When women talk about harassment and violence

So you want to be an ally to women? Or, you’re already an ally to women and want to check in and see how to up your game? Or you’ve never thought about harassment and violence against women until now and you’re ready to make some small changes that will have a large impact?

Let’s talk about Rape Anxiety. It’s a thing. Even I have dealt with this when I am walking alone at night or when I’m near large groups of men (regardless of the time of day). When I’m out walking/jogging, I am regularly scanning to see if someone might be following me. Yeah, that might sound crazy, but I’d rather be safe than sorry. So please, regardless of your personal experiences, if someone speaks to you about sexual harassment or gendered violence, please take it seriously.

“But even well-intentioned guys may be unaware of how their position of power creates intimidating situations.”

Please read this article – originally posted on Up Worthy – and share it broadly.

1. I need you to listen to me.

Resist your impulse to “not-all-men” your way out of the conversation. If I’m talking to you about this issue, it’s because I trust you and I think it’s an important discussion to have.

Please understand that my experiences may change your worldview a little bit — and that yours might change mine. If both of us approach the conversation with the assumption that we have something to learn, chances are we will.

2. I need you to be aware of how your behavior could unintentionally make the women (and femme and queer people) around you uncomfortable.

Maybe you’re trying to chat up a woman at the bar who doesn’t seem interested and you’re just not taking a hint. Maybe a step in the right direction is realizing that the woman who’s glancing back at you while you walk down the street is trying to assess if you’re a threat.

When you’re more in tune with the harassment that women experience every day simply by existing in the world, the next step is to notice if and how you play a role in those situations. Lots of times your threat is harmless, of course. But it never hurts to think critically about how you treat women, especially those you don’t know, in public.

3. I need you to use your privilege as a shield.

Guys, it’s exhausting to have to do all of this work ourselves. We really want your help.

The perpetrators of gendered microaggressions, sexual harassment, and sexual violence aren’t strangers — they’re the men in your classes, your workplace, your gym. So if you see something, please say something.

If a coworker makes an inappropriate comment to you about another coworker’s body, please tell them it’s not OK.

If you see a dude harassing a female friend at a party or a bar, please tactfully interject yourself into the situation to give her an out.

And, for the love of all that is holy, PLEASE teach your sons, brothers, and friends to do the same.

It may be uncomfortable to start talking about sexual violence and harassment, but it’s so, so necessary for all of us.

Those conversations could make a real difference in whether people like me feel safe and comfortable in the world.

That matters.

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