Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Male Privilege and Awkward Situations

Background starts here: (Briefly, a man asked a woman to have coffee in his hotel room while alone with her on an elevator. Creeped and scared the woman. She went public, various reactions ensued. Seriously, read the background stories.)

Whenever I read a story like this, I can't help but personalize it and put myself in somebody's shoes.  In this case the male's.  This story hit home because, as recently as 10 years ago (and if I was single at the time), I could have been that guy.  For the longest time I was very awkward around women, especially women I was attracted to.  As a young single male, that was damned near every woman.

I was shy, and painfully awkward.  Hell I was socially inept.  A typical nerd in almost all aspects.  The only way I would be able to talk to a woman is if I was alone, with no witnesses to my inevitable rejection.  Like say, on an elevator.  Or a stairwell or an empty hallway.  That's where I would have felt, well not comfortable, but less on edge.  The only reason why I am married at all is because my wife pursued me.  If she hadn't pursued me, I cringe at the man I would probably be right now.  Forty year old single males with no social skills tend to creep a lot of people out, including myself.

This isn't a defense of the motives on of the male individual, I have no idea if he was genuinely a creep that meant harm.  Her reaction and concern are justifiable. 

But, if that had been me in that elevator with her, I think I would never talk to a woman again.  To finally work up enough confidence to talk to a woman I liked and respected and then to have that experience publicly shamed would destroy what vestiges of ego I might have had.  I think my only point of all this is that the impact of sexual predation covers more territory than assumed.  I in no way equate the impact of men being afraid to approach women with sexual assault.  But sexual assault is a disease that riddles society, and the symptoms of that disease can be found in a myriad of ways.  A woman is afraid of a man that offers coffee, and a man could well be shunned for being shy and awkward.

All I can say is I am completely thankful that I am married to a wonderful woman.  I have no complaints and am a very happy man.  But it is not much of a stretch to say that her perusing me saved me.  Otherwise I could very well be that anonymous creep everyone is talking about.

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