I’m a graduate student at a big state school, and I’m one of the very few of us who think living in the surrounding neighborhood, with its vibrant indie store life and five minute walk to class, is worth the drunk college kids and broken glass. This morning, though, I found about four copies of a homemade flyer on my way to class. Some guy had put his douchy picture all over the thing, along with a phone number and the promise to get underage girls beer and a ride in his bitchin’ Toyota. It had those little tear off slips, this flyer, like he had lost his dog or he was selling a car.
I took the flyers down. Don’t misunderstand, I didn’t tear them down because I’m some gallant white knight out to protect the women of the neighborhood from this predatory creep. I’m not dumb enough to think I can get this dude to stop. I did it because the flyers pissed me off. I did it because I didn’t want my neighborhood’s hundred year old oak trees plastered with this guy’s dumbass grin. I did it because my neighborhood can be, should be, about something more than a douchebag who thinks he can trade beer and a ride in his car for time, attention and sex.
As I think about it, this flyer was pretty strange - not because of what it said, but because I saw it. Ordinarily, as a man, I don’t see when men treat women as interchangeable sources of their own pleasure and conquest. All that stuff happens in Twitter at replies I’m not attached to, or Reddit forums I know damn well to stay away from, or bars I don’t go to, or streets I don’t walk on.
But I do know it happens. I know because women in my life, people I know and trust, have told me stories about getting catcalled or slapped on the ass or called a frigid bitch by total strangers. I know because Gina Trapani, a tech writer who I don’t know, can make an aside about “her creepy guy” on a podcast, in a way that acknowledges just about every woman has a creepy guy, in a way I’ll never understand.
And I know because I see the results of this sort of shit happening over and over again. I see women I’ve gone on dates with or women I’m friends with who are afraid when they walk down the street, afraid when they set down their drinks, afraid to share details about their lives and their feelings, for fear I or some other man will take advantage of that information or that access to trick them into sleeping with me. When it happens as often as it does, I can’t blame them. Hell, it seems like the safe thing to do.
If you’re here, you’ve probably heard women tell you until they’re blue in the face how sexism and misogyny hurts women. If not, that information isn’t hard to find. If for some reason that’s not a good enough reason for you to stop … do it for me. Hell, do it for yourself. Do it because I, and probably you, want to meet women, feel close to women, love women, have sex with women who want to have sex with me, and eventually grow old with a woman. Do it because every time some asshole on the Internet or in real life says or does something stupid, it mocks the idea that men can genuinely care about women as people. Do it because you’re sick of this shit dragging your neighborhood down.
— Chase Nordengren at @DearBlankShow