Rowyn (rowyn) wrote,


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.
  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.