It’s time again for a little “He said, she said.”
It seems I was a bit triggering in Part 1.
Shortly after publishing that post?
I heard from one of the sweethearts in my life.
I always love you girls’ push back when you think I go too far.
We had a back and forth via messaging.
As always the insights were valuable.
So I asked if she would be okay with my sharing our convo with you.
Below is what we said.
As always I’ll use the conventions of “Her” and “Me” to indicate who is talking.
HERE IS HOW OUR CHAT WENT:
Her: Oh Kel. Darling. I don’t know where to start with this one.
Me: Feeling a need to “start” are you?
Her: Not sure if you want to hear my view in full … I mean this as nicely as possible but i think you’ve trivialized the difference between fearing for one’s physical safety and being embarrassed. The two are not comparable.
I remember when I learned in my early 20s to quit smiling at strangers… and not because I don’t want the inconvenience of saying “no” – I have no problem saying no…
But all it takes is a couple of times of some clearly stronger man blocking your path, putting his arm around you and being pushy in ways that leave you acutely aware of how out of control you clearly are, to decide, fuck if I’m going to walk around giving everyone the benefit of doubt, it’s too risky.
Me: Always welcome input! Not trivializing the difference. Obviously physical threat is worse. How many experiences like that did you have?
Her: A lot.
For example, I remember one time I stopped at a rest area on my way to St Louis for some “leadership” conference I was going to… so I was all dressed up nicely and feeling good about how I looked – even had bright pink lipstick on!
As I was walking back to my car, a guy a ways down noticed me, we made eye contact so I smiled at him, got in my car and drove off.
He got in his truck, sped up after me and proceeded to pull up next to me and start making faces at me – was swerving around trying to get my attention…
I tried ignoring him but then he’d get in front of me and start going extremely slowly so I would have to pass … then he’d speed up so I couldnt pass and would have to look over…
Needless to say, I was no longer smiling… and yet – there we were.
He looked like a normal guy. Thoughts running through my head went from – is he going to cause an accident.. is he going to follow me all the way to where I’m going?
Finally he gave up when I exited on to another highway to get away from him.
Was I ever truly in danger? Maybe not.
And nothing actually happened but I definitely remember it…
Plenty of other examples… and never-mind that I can think of about 4-5 of my closest friends (and I don’t keep too many of those) through the years who went through much worse…
Me: Thanks for sharing. Definitely creeps out there.
The sad thing as always though I suspect (correct me if I’m wrong) is these are still a few bad apples compared to the vast number of men you’ve historically encountered. Yes? No?
Her: Well who knows… stopped giving them the chance. I am being difficult, but I hope you understand my point.
Me: No no. Not difficult at all. And hopefully I don’t sound like I’m minimalizing what you’ve experienced either.
I appreciate you reaching out and sharing how that feels.
What’s hard for guys, the majority of them good, is they have no chance once these walls go up.
Given the current cultural milieu we’ll all have many more such conversations going forward.
Her: Yes I’m sure
And I can appreciate that frustration but not smiling at randoms does not mean I’m going to flip off every guy who makes an effort to say hello in a friendly non-threatening way
Me: I actually wrote this post about 6 months before the whole #metoo conversation broke. I chose to publish this anyway as my honest reflections from the guys’ standpoint at that time.
So thank you for the “push back” which I don’t actually see it as. You’re just sharing why you feel as you do.
Her: Yes – though I have to admit I was triggered 😉
And one more thing – the nice guys could do a MUCH better job recognizing and discouraging the nasty behaviors of their “bros”
And I believe you can handle honesty or I wouldn’t have said anything.
Me: Noted and agreed. A good part of my blog of course is doing exactly that!
Her: Perhaps this post aside
Me: No it is completely consistent with my perspective. I always am encouraging the girls to move toward the center too.
Her: Well I feel this post was a bit of a shove without enough recognition of how we got here in the first place
Me: Again noted. Will be interesting to hear other gals’ perspectives too. Keep communicating. Part of why I love you!
Her: Yes I look forward to hearing whether you get more similar feedback
As always I hope you enjoyed this interchange and it gives you food for thought.
If you’re a guy I hope it helps you understand a bit more why girls “won’t give you the time of day.”
It’s not you.
It’s guys who went before you who have created such threatening feeling situations for these girls.
If you’re a girl hopefully you can understand why to us guys, you just seem to be writing us off because of what “somebody else” has done.
What do you think guys? Are girls justified in presuming you’re predators after all?