Content warning: Discussion of rape, harassment, and violence; not first-person. Part 1 discusses statistics suggesting that while being female and alone in public places can be unpleasant it’s not generally dangerous. Part 2 is commentary about the way defensiveness from men is discussed.
Recently, six people were shot near UC Santa Barbara. The gunman, tormented by loneliness and sexual frustration, left YouTube rantings (now removed) that indicated that he felt entitled to women’s bodies; he was enraged that attractive women refused to sleep with him. For many women, these rantings felt like an extreme reflection of the ideology that leads to them being harassed and living in fear of sexual assault every day. Using the #YesAllWomen hashtag, many women recounted their experiences with harassment, sexual violence, and the need to constantly be cautious and restrict their activities to avoid harm. I recommend reading over the #YesAllWomen tweets, especially if these experiences are foreign to you.
Now, I’m not trying to make a point here, but in the interest of data gathering… this 5’2″, XX-chromosomed, female-presenting data point has never had almost any of the “all women” experiences. If these experiences are so ubiquitous, it’s remarkable that a woman could make it through 23 years without experiencing almost any gender-based unpleasantness. Going thorough Conor Friedersdorf’s summary of #YesAllWomen,
- Every single woman you know has been harassed. And just as importantly, every single woman you don’t know has been harassed. #YesAllWomen
I’ve been running for about eight years. I often run alone at night and I like exploring new neighborhoods, but over thousands of miles I’ve only experienced street harassment  about three times. [Edit: A fact! The Stop Street Harassment advocacy organization reports that "at least 65 percent of women have experienced catcalls, leers, and unwanted sexual propositions and advances", so about a third of women have never experienced this.]
- #YesAllWomen learn to say “Sorry, I have a boyfriend” because we are only safe if we are another man’s property.
I’ve never had to deal with a man failing to take a rejection gracefully because I have never had to reject someone. I don’t spend time in bars or anywhere else where my presence may imply that I’m looking for romance, though.
- because men joke about how girls always have to go to the bathroom in groups but they are the reason we do so. #YesAllWomen
Wait, I went to the bathroom in groups in middle school just because it was fun; I had no idea that adults regularly do this or that it’s motivated by safety.
- Because society is more comfortable with people telling jokes about rape than it is with people revealing they’ve been raped. #YesAllWomen
I heard a rape joke once and the backlash was massive. I’ve heard people complaining about rape jokes far more often than I’ve rape jokes; I don’t even know how these jokes go.
- Because I now wear shorts under dresses in crowded bars after being groped and even penetrated by unseen hands. #YesAllWomen
Eeek! This is terrifying. I admit I have no idea what happens in crowded bars.
- “Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.” ~ Margaret Atwood #NotAllMen #YesAllWomen
According to the FBI, 90.3% of murderers and 77.4% of murder victims are male. Non-fatal domestic violence is almost always man-on-woman and is a huge issue, and I would guess that the majority of gender-motivated violence is committed by men and inflicted on women, but women are not very likely to be murder victims.
- #YesAllWomen because walking at night is a feminist fantasy w/o any psychopath shooting you dead. pic.twitter.com/2CQ7OF357m
The average murder rate in the US is about five per 100,000 people per year. About 21% to 27% of those murders are committed by strangers. Stranger murder is, like stranger rape, a terror that almost never happens. Murder victims are almost always known to the murderer or involved in crime themselves. If women are as likely to be killed by strangers as men, about one woman per year is killed by a stranger out of every 200,000 women; a woman is about twenty times as likely to die in a car accident as to be killed by a stranger. The average American woman probably spends about twenty times as much time in a car as she does walking outside, so I guess that driving to the supermarket at 10 pm is about as dangerous as walking there.
Rape and robbery are also threats. Being raped on the street by a stranger seems very unlikely. Robbery does seem possible, although it turns out that — highly counterintuitively to me — men are more likely to be robbery victims than women.
Anyway, point is, I walk alone at night and I’m not too worried about it.
Another one via the Daily Beast:
- “Because every single woman I know has a story about a man feeling entitled to access to her body. Every. Single. One.”
Nope, no stories here. Secondhand stories from close female friends don’t come readily to mind, although there are a few.
Gendered harassment and violence isn’t a problem for all women. Clearly, some privileges are protecting me from this, but I don’t know exactly why I’m spared. I’ve always lived in decent neighborhoods. The people I’m around are well-educated and generally nice, but I’ve somehow also escaped the discrimination that plagues professional women: People don’t interrupt me, talk down to me, or assume I’m less competent than I am. Perhaps street harassment is targeted at women who are very attractive, very unattractive, fat, or gender non-conforming. I would guess I’m unattractive but uninteresting, which makes me much more likely to be left alone.
I have no idea.
There’s another explanation for the origin of the #YesAllWomen hashtag, which is that it’s a reaction to the fact that a man will often respond to a feminist argument with “But not all men do that.”  The response is “Yes, but all women have to put up with it.”
On its face, the “not all men” response looks like a non sequitur, irrelevant but true, and the “all women” response also looks like a true non sequitur to the man’s protest. The most charitable interpretation I can give to the “all women” response is that a man who starts a response with “Not all men…” is failing to take violence against women seriously and is instead turning the conversation to his own feelings, when women have to put up with much more serious things on a daily basis. The “all women” response is saying, “Okay, you wouldn’t do that, but your feelings don’t count for much against the magnitude of the problems we’re facing.”
But for the sake of compassion, I try to acknowledge and understand people’s feelings. If I were talking to a man about violence against women and got a “not all men” response, I hope I would reply: “I know that you and most men would never do something like that. What did I say that made you feel like I was tarring all men with the same brush?” Maybe the man’s feelings are kind of silly and out of proportion to the perceived slight, but we all have silly and disproportionate emotions, and it’s generally better to try to respectfully deal with someone’s silly emotions than to tell them  that they’re wrong and shouldn’t have those feelings. In addition, when I argue with someone, I’m hoping for a productive exchange of ideas in which we learn from each other, not an opportunity to convince someone that I’m right. Acknowledging when someone is correct and respecting their feelings is the only way to argue productively and respectfully.
 aka “Nice ass”
 I’m sorry to analyze and argue with the conversations of imaginary people here. I couldn’t find a good example of a “Not all men” response, supposedly popular under the #NotAllMen hashtag; I could only find feminists criticizing it.
 I use “they” and “them” as gender-neutral singular pronouns. I think this is less clumsy than “he or she”, less distracting than “zhe”, and (of course) far less sexist than “he”.