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The Good Guy Comprehension Gap

With the debate about harrarssment coming to the fore in a whole lot of places at the moment, I'm seeing a phenomenon I've noticed before, which deserves a post of its own.

The Good Guy Comprehension Gap. Which really does trip up the good guys, the nice guys, the ones raised man and boy to respect women and girls in the same way that they have always respected their mothers, sisters, aunts, grandmothers, Miss Teacher and all the rest.

They would no more consider running naked down their local high street than they would, to take today's example, send a 1615 word email to a woman berating her for not agreeing to a second date, while still clearly expecting one to happen. (see here for the story).

They would not dream of intruding, pursuing, or indulging in any of the entitled, obnoxious behaviours detailed in this post A Guy's Guide to Approaching Strange Women without Getting Maced or this one, I Just Want To Go For A Walk.

So they can really struggle to comprehend the extent of the reality which women live with.

Which can, alas, so often lead to the minimising comments so ably skewered by Jim C Hines.

Sharing a personal experience with the good guys usually doesn't help either. For example, if I tell the tale of the fat, sweaty sleaze who admired my tits in a lift when I was on my way to the library in the shopping centre in Poole and suggested we go and have sex - when I was thirteen years old.

The good guys' eyes instantly give them away. Relieved, because now they know, they understand. Clearly I had this unpleasant, unusual encounter at such an impressionable age that's so traumatised me I now have this skewed viewpoint. Sometimes they even say so. They're at pains to reassure me that so very few men are like that. Yes, thanks, I know, I've worked that out for myself in the intervening thirty-odd years.

And no, for the record, I was startled, repelled and yes, I took stairs everywhere in public places for months after - but I really wasn't traumatised. I might have been if he'd tried to touch me but all he did was leer. Please believe me when I say it wasn't a big deal. Not least because when I told my pals at school, pretty much every girl had her own equivalent story to tell. And that's what should be the big deal. Why should a class full of teenage girls be forced to conclude this is an inevitable part of life?

But I digress. This post is for the good guys, the nice guys, the white knights and heroes. Mind the Gap.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 8th, 2011 02:38 pm (UTC)
I can say that having had a similar sort of discussion with a friend on my flist who posted something on this subject and to a woman, we all had a similar experience to relate, to a greater or lesser extent. Sadly, so many guys just don't get it, even if they are nice.
Dec. 8th, 2011 05:10 pm (UTC)
An excellent post.
Dec. 8th, 2011 10:32 pm (UTC)
The problem, I think, is that most guys don't know what it's like to be either on one's guard or actually frightened the entire time one is out in public or in a place that's unfamiliar. We're taught to be afraid from the time we can toddle -- and with good reason,unfortunately. A small but significant percentage of men see women as legitimate prey. If they only knew what it's like to have to continually watch, look, listen, judge the actions of men you don't know -- are they a threat or not?

An off-color remark or a reaching hand might not look like much to an onlooker. But we don't know if it will stop there or escalate.
Dec. 9th, 2011 06:09 am (UTC)
Excellent post ... though that said although I am a nice guy its not impossible that I *would* on occaision consider running naked down the high street (or on top of the Grand Canyon for that matter - ask me about that another time)..
Dec. 11th, 2011 01:28 pm (UTC)
Thank-you. Yes I had this conversation recently on Facebook and am still feeling a little scarred.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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