Rowyn (rowyn) wrote,
Rowyn
rowyn

De-escalation

This article, "Why Women Smile at Men Who Sexually Harass Us", has been going around my Twitter feed.

One of the things that fascinates me about it is that I don't generally do this, myself. When someone is annoying me in public, my go-to strategy is "ignore them". This is what I was taught to do, over and over again, starting in grade school. It is not particularly effective, but still better than anything else I've tried, so I've stuck with it. I do sometimes fake-smile to be polite rather than making a scene, but that's a strategy for people who I judge are trying to be friendly but I don't particularly want to engage, not for ones that make me feel unsafe. Unsafe provokes "run away/avoid/do not acknowledge" in me.

As far as I can remember, I've never been in a physical fight*, not even as a kid. I've not experienced the "man [or other bully] escalates to violence because of being ignored" that the article author refers to.

I don't say this to imply that it doesn't happen, or that the author is wrong about the best strategy for preventing a violent conflict. But I do find it fascinating that the rules she was taught are so different from the ones I internalized. I think she's right that her approach is more likely to avoid conflict. I can't help wondering if the reason that boys are more likely to get in physical fights than girls is that girls are socialized to de-escalate, and boys are socialized not to put up with crap. What would the world look like if everyone was socialized to de-escalate instead?

* I did once swing my book bag at a girl who was harassing me in junior high school. I don't recall if I hit her. She didn't try to hit me in return, so not sure this counts as a physical fight.
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