How to tell if you’re a dickhead

A man spat at me today because I ignored him when he leered ‘hello’ to my boobs. And when I was too shocked to respond, he just laughed in my face.

This was on the steps at a train station, and when I got down to the platform, two other men looked me up and down and then winked at me. Several times. When I shifted the green bags on my shoulders to cover my front so there was NOTHING they could see, they moved their gaze down to my crotch. I went and hid behind some other people.

I felt threatened.

I was on a platform with about 30 other people, at 10.30 in the fucking morning, and I felt unsafe.

I was worried that they’d follow me onto the train.

And I was shaken by the cunt who spat at me. What on earth would he have done if I’d given him an earful? And what if he saw me on the platform and followed me onto the train?

I started thinking that I should go past my station to the next one, because I’ve seen more guards at that station and I can probably get one to stand with me while I get a cab back to my suburb, to make it harder for them to follow me home. Unless they get in a cab and say, “follow that cab”. If you know me in real life, you’ll know that I’m not a particularly cautious or anxious person. And if you ask around your female friends, most of them will have stories like this.

I was glad that I was wearing my sunnies because my eyes filled with tears. Stupid tears.

It made me think of Dan Nolan’s I am not a uterus scientist:

Frankly, most men simply don’t understand what it is like to feel threatened walking home alone at night. What it’s like to wonder if the person behind you is on their way home or wants to do something unspeakable to you.

If you’re a man, when’s the last time someone bigger than you stopped you in the street to comment on your clothing or your body parts? Or stared at your crotch in a creepy way that made you think they might attack you? Or told you to smile for them? I’m guessing probably never.

But maybe I’m being too harsh on these three men at the train station. Maybe they’re too stupid to know that they’re dickheads. It happens. So, here’s an easy list to help you know if you’re a dickhead. You can print it out and put it in your wallet, in case you need to refer to it when you’re not sure if you’re being a dickhead:

1. If you’re out in public and you tell a woman to “smile”, because you think that women are there to perform for you/do what you say, you’re a dickhead.

2. If you comment on a woman’s body when she is out in public, you’re a dickhead.

3. If you don’t pull your mate up when he does these things, you’re a dickhead too.

4. And if you spit at a woman because she doesn’t respond when you’re being a creep, if I see you again I’ll take a photo of you and post it here and the whole internet will know what a pathetic piece of shit you are.

93 responses to “How to tell if you’re a dickhead

  1. That’s just awful NWN, I’m really sorry that happened to you. I also have trouble responding to stuff like that, what with the shock and all.

  2. that is fucked

    I’m a big scary person, I’m the guy my friends ask to walk them to the car,taxi,bus or station on a dark night, I’m the guy you sit with in a cafe if you want to discourage an unrequited crush in the office and on occasions have been following a girl down the street at night and could just feel their tension. i have crossed the street, walked into the gate of a random house, pretend to get in a car… just to pretend not to be threat, anything to not feel like I’m an axe welding, stalking sex offender lining up my next catch in the eyes of someone else… Its not like i can catch up with them and say “don’t worry I’m not insane” it would freak any one out.

    i despise bullying and intimidation like this, i have never done it but have never had it don’t to me, so i can only base all this on assumptions.

  3. What a complete and utter mysogynistic twat.

  4. That’s terrible. It’s why we need the ability transfer images captured by our eyes to a device that can be shared with police. That is evil behaviour.

  5. Another reason there is so much to like about getting older. This just doesn’t happen to me anymore (it did once, a lot). Now, I seriously think I scare stupid, sexist men shitless, and I love it. Yeah, dickwads, I’m old, you have no interest in fucking me, which is great cos I never had any interest in fucking you.

    • When does it stop happening? Because I’m 36 and it feels like it’s getting worse. Like there’s a greater sense of entitlement to my body.

      Welcome to the News with Nipples, by the way.

      • I think it depends on the person. Either I project ‘Fuck off’ vibes or just genuinely don’t notice…or am genuinely unattractive, but people assure me otherwise, (thanks, assuring people), but no-one (no stranger, anyway) has visibly ogled me since I was about 15. And I have never been groped or nothin’.
        For which I am genuinely grateful because it would seriously suck to have that sort of experience and I am terribly sorry that that happen/ed/s to you NWN.

        • A friend commented on the weekend that I seem to cop this sort of bad behaviour a lot. I think it’s because I don’t work full-time 9-5, so I’m often out and about by myself during the day. I never get it when I’m out with a friend or with ManFriend. That’s all I can offer by way of explanation. I’m not a sexy young thing.

          • I am out at all kinds of different times during the day too, and have never had a 9-5 job so that wouldn’t have occurred to me as an explanation. Like I said, maybe I project ‘anger and unattractiveness’, or maybe I am just damn lucky.

  6. Hello,

    Found this post on Twitter, and just wanted to say am sorry this happened to you, however it sadly does not surprise me. I have once been slapped in the street with a female friend by a bunch of guys who just walked past us and then went off. It’s amazing how it leaves you hurt, ashamed and scared when you should be outraged and telling them off.
    I am hopeful however that things will change and women will not have to experience such fears anymore. Recently a Belgian film student released a documentary about it, which prompted strong reactions in France, especially on Twitter with the creation of the #harcelementderue.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/aug/03/belgium-film-street-harassment-sofie-peeters?INTCMP=SRCH

    • Hello Hélène, and welcome to the News with Nipples. They slapped you? That’s outrageous!

      Thank you so much for posting that link. That film is amazing. Oh, the scene where she’s sitting in the park! And then all the rest!

      In my experience in Sydney, the men who harass women in the street here aren’t as aggressive, but it’s still very wrong and makes you feel unsafe.

  7. i was resident in a country where i, white fella, was the minority.
    i was followed down the street by a group of young men on the racial majority
    the fear i felt then …

    different situation from yours, but i empathise for what it’s worth.

    the man you talk about has committed criminal and disgusting acts.

    similar to dog3, i have also crossed streets to avoid following someone, and to avoid giving the appearance of following someone

    • Being followed is frightening, isn’t it? Hell, even I slow down or cross the street so I don’t freak people out by walking to close to them at night.

      It makes me happy that there are people who think about the other people they are sharing a public space with. (People listening to ipods have made it worse. They forget there are others around them.)

  8. I’m so sorry to hear this; I hope blogging it has helped process it for you.
    He’s not a dickhead by patriarchal standards; all men behave in ways that help maintain the status quo, to some extent. He did his share that day and would have been rewarded by not being reprimanded by witnesses, or by seeing a woman spat on in his next choice of porno flick.

    As a butch dyke, I’m kind of used to being surrounded by male death stares where ever I go, but it still comes as a sharp reminder of the level of male hatred when one of them takes it that bit further, like shoving me, or letting fly with a “Fuckin’ dyke” as they pass me by.

    Whatever kind of woman you are, you are not entitled to be taking up public space, and all kinds of men will be on hand to helpfully remind you about it.

    • They shove you? That’s revolting! Must be tempting to shove them back – but it’s easy to say that from the safety of my home.

      My feeling is that for men like this, we will never be able to make them see what pricks they are being. They very clearly don’t respect women so why would anything we say make them change their behaviour? That’s why I think point 3 in my little list is important. Other men need to pull them up for it.

      • Linda, I get more sleazy male attention now, in my mid-thirties, than I did when I was younger. I don’t know whether it’s because I look more feminine now than when I was in my 20s, or because I’m noticing it more, or because our culture is more sex-charged (yet without being sexual) or because there’s more aggression around? Or maybe I just think there’s more aggression around, because I’m older and a bit more scared by it? I don’t have any answers to these questions.

        • The aussie sociologist, Bryan Turner, once wrote that as legal protections and social inclusion policies for women increased and weakened the structures of patriarchy, men would become more aggressive/violent towards women on a personal or individual level.
          I think he was on the money.

          I used to get a lot of sleazy attention when I was a young onion doing high femininity, but back them I interpreted it as a huge compliment.

          • Sadly, sleazy attention is the reward for performing high femininininity. So much work, so very very little reward.

  9. If nothing else, this post has inspired me to break my commenting drought.

    Fucking hell. I’m so, so sorry you had that nastiness forced upon you.

    And you’re so right about most women having their own versions of these stories – I have my own terrifying story, but I’m going to relate one I saw, rather than one that happened to me.
    I remember seeing two fuckwits hassling a schoolgirl on King St in the middle of the day. She would have been 14 at the most, and these two guys said some foul things to her. People just averted their eyes and pretended it wasnt happening. She just…folded into herself – eyes down, arms around her, trying to make herself as invisible as possible, and it broke my heart. I missed the opportunity to say something to them (which is probably a good thing, my mouth’s got me in trouble before), but ended up leaving the supermarket to find her and say ‘hey, I heard what they said, and I just wanted to check on you’. She looked a bit confused by me asking, but I hope that someone checking on her helped alleviate even a little bit of that awful anger, humiliation, helplessness and frustration combo that follows those kind of attacks. I just… didn’t want her to feel like no one gave a shit, you know? It upset me for days, not least of which was the feeling that I shoulda stepped in when it was happening.

    On a better note, this is one of my favourite blog pieces on privilege and street harassment (plus a parable about puppies! Win!):

    https://sindeloke.wordpress.com/2010/01/13/37/

  10. Firstly I am sorry this happened to you. The person that spat in your face deserves to be reported to police as this is something extreme. Real men do not do this.

    With sensitivities to the situation and that you were justifiable feeling anger I disagree with the statement, “Frankly, most men simply don’t understand what it is like to feel threatened walking home alone at night”.
    Most men in my experience know exactly what this feels like. Personally I have been the victim of random violence on several occasions. I have been thrown through a plate glass window and have a titanium plate in my jaw from being “king hit”. It is unfortunate that that man on man violence is a fact of life for many men and such violence appears to be perpetrated by a violent thug minority.

    I have no idea why this behaviour appears to be increasing however for all of feminism’s positives it may well be food for thought that is has negative repercussions. Such repercussions include alienating segments of men. Feminism as a movement has achieved much and today struggles to find relevance in modern western societies. Such relevance can often be negatively channelled into aggression and anger by those that may well be educationally challenged and feel “persecuted” for simply being male. I certainly do not advocate this stance but this may be factor in some cases.

    • Any violence is awful, and I’m sorry to hear that you also have violent stories.

      However, the point about violence being a repercussion of feminism cannot possibly be true, because there was violence before feminism. I really don’t think that those men who are violent, are violent because women are in the workforce and have the right to earn their own income and vote and say no to sex.

      Welcome to the News with Nipples, by the way.

      • Thanks for the welcome. I agree with your statement “I really don’t think that those men who are violent, are violent because women are in the workforce and have the right to earn their own income and vote and say no to sex”. I would argue however that some of the gender feminists and more radical factions of the feminist movement could be seen to be taking an aggressive anti-male stance which may generate hostilities. Again I am not condoning this I am simply stating an opinion and observation.

        In the context of “power” many feminists take a strong anti-violence stance and rightly so (I would if I was a women) and it is interesting to read the dynamic of such. If women only were allowed to carry guns it would be interesting to see how this dynamic would change along with the attitudes and experiences of both genders. The use and abuse of power and behaviour in general is an interesting subject and I believe there are complex factors involved with gender being only one. Others include family upbringing, education, work, social status, financial status, ethnicity, and of course personal experience.

        Due to the complexities and multiple facets involved I would argue apportioning “dickhead” behaviour to blatant sexism or “men” to be an oversimplification of the issue. This is perhaps my main disagreement with sweeping generalisations that sometimes people can make.

        People are complex…Behaviour (good and bad) is influenced by more than gender alone. Sure there are loads of men that are dickheads but this is not to say it is because they are simply men.

        • Guns? If women are allowed to carry weapons then maybe the men who are violent will stop being violent? So, women have to change their behaviour to stop some men being violent? Can you see how wrong this is? Why don’t we put our efforts into stopping the men being violent?

          As for your last point, you will notice that NOWHERE in this post – or in this entire blog that has been running for years – have I said “all men are to blame” or “it’s because they’re men”. It is only SOME men, and I’ve always said that.

          You are being very sneaky with your comments. “Oh, feminism is to blame, but don’t get me wrong, OTHER people say that, I’M not saying that”. Except that you are saying that.

          • Yes you have never said that all men are to blame although some of the commenters make this inference. I only wish this stance was taken by more feminists. I greatly believe this is western feminists major public relations issue – the messages are directed too broadly.

            I am not being sneaky with my comments, I am telling as it is. Feminism in certain circumstances (not on the whole) marginalises men and this causes negative attitudes. You ask “Why don’t we put our efforts into stopping the men being violent?” Absolutely. This needs honest objective analysis. Who is to blame and what the causes are need addressing. The first step is accepting that this is the case and accepting men are not always to blame, although in many cases certain groups of men are to be held responsible.

            Many men today, respectful of women and who have always considered women their equal, are often offended and stigmatised by some of the messages feminism sends. Denying this and brushing it over fails to acknowledge genuine concerns members of society have with certain aspects of feminism.

            I attempted to explain why this marginalisation may occur by highlighting the problems with blanket ideologies attempting to explain behaviour using single dimensional causations (gender) but I am being misquoted and taken out of context.

            • Feminism does not have a PR problem. We have a mainstream media that presents feminists as being evil fun-ruiners.

              There is no such thing as “Western feminism”. Western feminists have different feminisms. Linda Radfem and others who comment here are radical feminists. I am a liberal feminist. We disagree on some things and agree on others.

        • I missed this little gem earlier:

          “I would argue however that some of the gender feminists and more radical factions of the feminist movement could be seen to be taking an aggressive anti-male stance which may generate hostilities.”

          You can’t just make massive statements like that without citing any evidence, examples, empirical data etc. Please provide actual examples of radical feminists taking on aggressive anti-male stances.

          And seeing as you’re already on the internet you won’t have any trouble informing yourself that second wave feminist activism directly addressed the issue of men’s violence and worked to develop public policy responses to it such as rape crisis services, refuges, anti marital rape laws, no fault divorce and parenting payments. This was in response to the violence which already existed.

          You are right in a way; men got mighty pissed off about this challenge to male privilege and it probably has contributed to current attitudes. But surely you’re not trying to make a rational argument out of it because we can boil that down to “Women took action to protect themselves from male violence so men got mad about it and became even more violent, therefore the silly women got what they deserved for complaining about violence in the first place “.

          That is actually what you are saying.

          • Linda,

            Again I am misquoted and my main argument is simply ignored and replaced with inferences I did not make – I am clarifying this and telling you what I am saying – please do not misquote me. My argument is that there are PARTS of Feminism that have the result of alienating sections of the male population. In addition there are views and approaches in Feminism that operate using a fundamentally flawed logic. The flawed logic revolves around wrongfully identifying a correlation between personal experience and social theory.

            Gender feminism which is the dominant approach in academia asserts unsubstantiated claims about human nature. It argues that that differences between genders have nothing to do with evolution, but are primarily socially constructed. Evolutionary psychology strongly argues otherwise from a scientific perspective [http://www.epjournal.net/wp-content/uploads/EP103943.pdf

            Here lies the issue. As the dominant approach in feminism, many feminist sociologists and feminists use post-modern social constructionism and narrative literary interpretation to give meaning to the world they observe. Many social scientists that use empiricism and more objective means of observation and measure do not take such sociologists very seriously anymore.

            This narrative approach to making meaning of the world around them continues when dealing with personal experience and societies they operate in. Mistakenly they make the erroneous connection between personal experiences and general societal conclusions where there is no empirical evidence to make this giant leap or extrapolation. When such views are aired in forums with a membership that does not have a wide cross section of opinion, self-affirmation and group-think can result – This blog does NOT suffer from this and I am thankful that I am allowed to air my views. I believe it is healthy to have disagreement.

            I am not saying that personal experiences are not valid or true. I am saying that they may be subject to cognitive bias that skews objective reality. Perceptive bias has been shown to be a strong factor in re-enforcing strongly held beliefs. I may notice some men staring weirdly at me but what about the 99% (just a guess) of men that do not. What if they were just staring blankly simply thinking about rhubarb ice cream and its demise as a sweet option since the late 1980’s?.

            The point I am making is that personal experience is not an accurate data collection mechanism to enable non-biased objective societal claims and conclusions. There are too many different factors influencing the experience.

            Dickheads they may be, but WHY and for what reasons they are dickheads we have really have no objective idea using the above case examples.

            P.S. The person that spat should have been arrested and charged.
            .

            • (This comment is longer than my post.)

              I don’t think the spitter should have been arrested. I think that’s a bit over the top.

            • I’m a radical feminist, Surryhillsboy, and we think post modernism sucks btw. And you seem to be, quite weirdly, forming a conclusion that when women are discussing personal experience AND empirical data in the same discussion, that we think they are one and the same. It is possible to refer to both in the one discussion. The thing with radical feminists is that we’re not squeamish about stating the truth and naming the problem. This is why we get shit from men. It’s also why you’ve identified me as particularly threatening and are trying to bend my perspective to fit the male perspective. You guys need to stop hiding behind the “But not ALL men” rhetoric. If I can deal with knowing about male violence and the implications of it for me, then you can deal with hearing about it once in a while too.

              • Thanks for the reply, I find your arguments interesting and I do not find you threatening, a little confrontational maybe, but then again perhaps so am I, and after all this is a feminist blog.

                All the best in your efforts with radical feminism.

    • But when you walk home alone at night, is it women you fear you will be king hit by? And do you have similar fears around the people you live with as well as strangers on the street? Male on male violence, like violence against women, serves to enforce the social order, and men benefit from the social order being enforced, women do not. What you seem to be politely suggesting, is that women have caused men to be violent, which is hugely offensive to any woman with a scrap of feminist consciousness.

      • Hi Linda,

        To clarify, I was stating the reality of the matter is that there are segments of the community that will always psychological project anger towards groups. Certain demographics of men will do this towards women just as certain women will do this towards men. Feminism is not immune to such circumstances and can be the vehicle and the subject of. It may be uncomfortable reading that feminism could possibly provoke such aggression in some cases but this may be a reality that needs to be addressed.

        In answer to your question “is it women you fear you will be king hit by?” I would say no it would be men. However I would also say I have been hurt and scarred far more by what words have even been said to me (by women) than anything a man has ever said verbally or physically and yet I do not believe women are to blame in general.

        Not being funny Linda but I am not aware of what this “social order” is. I am aware we have a female prime minister, a female governor general, and our first Catholic saint is a female. There is some semblance of order in this I am sure and is what I was alluding to in my original post.

        • If some people have a problem with democracy, we don’t say democracy provokes that problem. Nor do we say that democracy needs to change to accommodate the people with the problem. So why do it with feminism? Why tell feminists they need to accommodate people who have a problem with equality?

        • “Not being funny Linda but I am not aware of what this “social order” is. I am aware we have a female prime minister, a female governor general, and our first Catholic saint is a female.”

          Token women in some positions has absolutely no effect on the social order! This would be evidenced by the increasing levels of domestic violence and sexual assault against women and children; the ever-widening gendered pay gap; pitifully low representation of women and women’s interests across law, politics, religion, media etc; women’s almost zero control of wealth and resources/ property ownership; gendered division of domestic labour, including mostly women doing all the unpaid/low paid shit work. You’re talking nonsense and I’m in no mood to be mansplained at in a feminist space.

          • Linda I am sorry you are in “no mood to be mansplained” but your current personal mood and feelings do not change my arguments.

            I doubt the prime minister of Australia would agree with being labelled a “token woman” about as much as you would being labelled a token feminist. Do you have any statistics that back up your claims as from my perspective (just as valid as yours) I find a lot of these claims subjective and personally biased?

            • I haven’t read this entire argument but I do agree with the original statement that men DO know how it feels to feel threatened when walking alone. They know because a man is far more likely to be attacked by a stranger in the street than a woman is (in the UK). The problem, I think, is that women are even more scared and intimidated than men because we are constantly warned not to walk alone/wear ‘provocative clothes’/drink too much/walk somewhere dark etc. Also, because to be raped is seen as being much much worse than being beaten or stabbed. (I say “seen to be” because neither has actually happened to me so I couldn’t say if one is worse than another or not).

              I would also agree, to a point, that sweeping statements like this (“most men simply don’t understand”) put some men off feminist causes. Whilst most feminist discourse is about equality and measured reactions to injustice; statements like this make men feel that feminists believe all men are stupid and irrelevant. And they’re a gift to the naysayers that call us hairy man-haters!

              • So, just because some men would be put off by statements about some men, we shouldn’t say it?

                • No, not at all. If what you’re saying is true, or at least based on evidence, then you should say it. But that statement isn’t really true.
                  And, whether we like it or not, feminists are often considered to be fanatics who hate all men. My main point is that, the statement simply isn’t true. Aside from that, I think we ought to consider how ‘we’ look to ‘them’ when we make statements that seem condescending and untrue.

                  As for the rest of your story, thanks for sharing it. I enjoy your writing and I hope I haven’t offended you. These stories need to be heard more often because a lot of women are being intimidated by men who think they have a right to say and do as they please. (@everydaysexism on twitter has shown me this is very widespread.)

                  • Ah dippie, you say the statement isn’t true, but you’re not offering any more of any less evidence than I am. I do think it’s true that many men don’t know what it’s like to wonder if the person walking behind you is going to sexually assault you. That was Dan Nolan’s point, and hey, he’s a man and he probably knows men. I’ve put the question to my male friends over the years and the answer is always that they might wonder if they’re going to get mugged – if they think about it at all.

                    I am a liberal feminist. I don’t believe that all men are awful. I think that some men are awful, just as some women are awful. And I will ALWAYS challenge people when they say feminists hate men. Because the more I say it, and the more other feminists say it, then the more likely it is that people will realise that feminists don’t hate men.

                    (You haven’t offended me at all. I hope you come back.)

                    • Ok, I have to own up. I’ve just looked and I can’t find much evidence either way. There’s this small study in Ohio that shows men think about street-dangers less than women.
                      http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09663690701325000
                      And this study that shows women are more concerned about being an attractive target to crime, whereas men are only concerned when they notice particularly threatening people. http://bjc.oxfordjournals.org/content/40/3/399.full.pdf+html?ath_user=mdx.1b725700b05df605&ath_ttok=%3CUD8sL6P9kNvcGoq8ng%3E

                      However, I still think that when women say “men just don’t understand”, it is patronising those men who are actually interested in equality; those men that I want to stand with us. It makes it sound like us feminists think all men are the same, and we don’t.

                      I’m glad you tell people off when they say feminists hate men. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard about “certain groups of feminists” who think men should be castrated or enslaved or some other rubbish. Super annoying!

                    • (Except that I don’t say “men don’t understand”. I was quoting a male writer who said “most men”.)

                      Thanks for those links, dippie. The first one gets right in to what we’re talking about:

                      Students used a wide range of strategies to make themselves feel safer, from staying home after dark to formulating plans for self-defense to telling themselves they had nothing to fear. While a focus on strategic responses illuminated areas of overlap in men’s and women’s experiences, gender differences were also striking. Men are unlikely to rely on avoidance strategies, while some women view self-imposed restrictions on activity as normal and necessary. Furthermore, many men are unwilling or unable to relate to questions about fear and safety, explicitly or implicitly reinscribing fear as a ‘women’s issue’.

                      Of course there are men who think about this stuff, just as there are women who don’t think about it. But talking about it, with the range of views we have here, is what’s important to me.

              • “I would also agree, to a point, that sweeping statements like this (“most men simply don’t understand”) put some men off feminist causes.”

                What “puts men off” feminist causes is the idea of a truly equal society, and losing privilege as a result.

                • That’s really not true. I know loads of men who would LOVE it if society was truly equal. Not all men revel in the privileges their gender brings. And a lot more still, actually don’t realise that their gender still has privileges. If we can engage ALL people in the discourse, we’ll hear a lot less young women saying that there’s no need for feminism ‘these days’ and a lot more men realising that they’re getting unfair advantages. Plenty of men are reasonable, pleasant human beings and would much prefer that everybody was treated equally.

                  • “That’s really not true. I know loads of men who would LOVE it if society was truly equal. Not all men revel in the privileges their gender brings.”

                    That’s fantastic news. So I guess we don’t need worry about getting our wording just right for fear of “putting off” all these amazing equality-desiring, privilege-rejecting blokes.

                    • I think what puts some people off feminism is the way it’s been very successfully demonised by the people who will lose their privilege in an equal world. A lot of people believe that all feminists are man-haters, but if you ask them about equality, they’ll say “yes, of course”. Other people don’t like feminism because they don’t want equality. The two groups are very different and so sweeping statements aren’t going to cover it.

                      I agree with dippie, in that I also know feminist men (and women who are feminists in public). But my friends are not representative of the wider community. Having feminist friends doesn’t mean that anti-feminists don’t exist, and likewise, just because there are anti-feminists doesn’t mean there aren’t feminists. If that makes sense.

  11. Ugh, there are so many dickheads out there. Yesterday as I walked through my city train station on the way to work, a guy who was as least as fat as me, and had his finger up his nose to almost the second knuckle called me a “Fat cunt” as I walked past him. My crime was simply being a fat woman in public. That’s how I started my working day – arriving in the city to be called a fat cunt by a complete stranger simply for happening to be in his gaze.

    The worst thing is that this is nothing unusual, and even when other people notice it happening, they just stare, nobody ever speaks up.

    I wish I knew the answer to stopping these dickheads, be they leering or hateful or both.

    • Oh sleepydumpling, that is disgusting. What a shitty thing to have to deal with.

      Back in the 90s when I did my psych degree, I read about several studies that show that in public spaces, most people assume that someone else will do the right thing, that someone else will be more qualified to step in and stop something happening, but once one person does, then everyone else gets the confidence to speak up too. (Sorry, wish I could remember the names of the studies or the researchers, but I drink too much and barely remember my 20s.) So maybe we need to start a campaign, “Be the first person”, to get people to speak up when they see shit like this. What do you reckon?

      • You might be thinking of the example of Kitty Genovese and bystander apathy theory? The more people around the less responsibility everyone takes.

      • I think people just recoil in fear at the thought of the “attacker” in question turning on them next. I suppose some people are more likely to stand up for themselves/others. But someone like me who will go to great lengths to avoid confrontation just pretends it isn’t happening, even if it’s something they don’t agree with.

    • Hi Sleepy- Thanks for sharing. Similar things have happened to me, both meant to be offensive and meant to be ‘flattering’ (eg nice tits)
      Would it have made you feel better if someone else had quickly piped up? If someone nearby had said “look who’s talking you ignorant idiot”? I’m not sure if I’d just be more embarrassed if it was me.

  12. “on a platform with about 30 other people”.
    That for me is the worst part.
    Pair of arseholes.

    • It’s funny, the day after I wrote this post, I felt a bit silly about it. I wasn’t attacked. The spit didn’t hit me. The only reason those two creepy guys got to me was because the spitter had upset me first. But then everyone started sharing their experiences and so I’m glad I wrote it.

      Edward, welcome to the News with Nipples. My comment to sleepydumpling above, about the “Be the first person” campaign – we can come up with a better name – is worth pursuing, don’t you think?

      • That campaign would be a great idea. Not least because I think it’s something most good people are bothered by – the fear of not having the nerve to do something you should. A lot of people probably just need a little push in the right direction.

  13. Dino not to be confused with

    Sorry to hear this story NWN,
    Happens too often I think.
    Blink of an eye.
    City Life.

  14. Jesus that’s fucked NWN and sleepydumpling. My son who is 16 and tall for his age was walking home from the train station in the dark. He’s such a gentle kid. He noticed there was a littler kid walking in front of him and the kid started turning around alot and quickening his pace trying to stay way ahead of my son. My son thought this was hilarious and he obviously got a power trip out of being able to scare – well anyone. When he told me about it, and knowing the gentleness of my boy, I laughed too, but reading this has made me realise, it’s not funny at all. I’m a fucking idiot and I’ll talk to the kid tomorrow.

    I agree with you NWN and Linda. I’m not sure what “real men” are. If you’re not a “real man” what are you exactly? These arseholes who assaulted NWN and Sleepydumpling and the kid on King Street and me and you etc., would do the same whether feminism existed or not. These arseholes will use any excuse to act like arseholes. Women are just the easiest go-to excuse that society has always offered up and you have bought it surryhillsboy. The evil feminazis have alienated me and that’s why I spit on/bash/stab/shoot/hate women. Bullshit.

    • Sandra, can you report back about the conversation with your son? I’m interested in his response.

      Linda, this is also a question for you, because I know you have a teenager. Do you think young people are going to be better than the rest of us, in terms of equality and respect for others?

      • My boy is the quiet, gentle type as well.Doesn’t mean he’ll be immune to ever wielding privilege against others, including women, just because he was raised by feminists who love him dearly. Young people will have internalised a lot of misogynist and sexist narratives through popular culture, entertainment media, porn, gaming etc. from a very young age. I know from working with teens in my professional life that it’s unusual for boys to not be accessing porn on their phones every day. We know that media influences attitudes so, it can’t be good for women.

        I know Moira Carmody from UWS has done a lot of great work with young people around issues of genuine consent and respectful, ethcal relationships. But she often expresses despair at the pro-status quo values and attitudes young people express about things like what is acceptable behaviour for women.

        Also look at Michael Flood whose findings in 2008 showed that quite a lot of young boys were very confused about whether or not girls/women are human beings. I can dig out references if you want them.

        As to ever being able to age out of this type of male attention, I disagree that we can do this. Just google the words “rape” and “nursing home”.
        If you are born into the female caste there is not many ways to opt out, ever.

        • Hi Linda,
          As a nerd-feminist – I would love to read the references. If you could supply details – that would be great. If you could flick me the pdfs that would be awesome. In the case of the latre – maybe we could organise an email swap?

          • Hey Natalie, the ones I was thinking of are Michael Flood’s report for White Ribbon:
            http://www.whiteribbon.org.au/uploads/media/23546WhiteRibbonYouthSummary.pdf
            …and
            Carmody, M, & Willis, K 2006, Developing ethical sexual lives: young people, sex and sexual assault prevention, University of Western Sydney. Social Justice and Social Change Research Centre. NSW Rape Crisis Centre Australian Research Council

            Carmody, M 2009, Sexual ethics: young people and ethical sex, Palgrave Macmillan, South Yarra

            Moira Carmody’s despair about attitudes was expressed in personal communications.

      • Well he grunted in acknowledgement that he had heard me. Told me defensively that he did nothing to try and scare the boy and said “Yeah I know mum” alot. So that’s how that conversation went. I can only hope that if it happens again he will remember our discussion such as it was and use some of the strategies suggested to avoid scaring other people.

        • That’s probably a win, as far as teenagers go, right?

          • Bahahaha, probably. As a teenage boy myself… that sounds about right

            I’m a tall dude myself, and I can’t say I’ve ever felt genuinely fearful for my safety, although I tend to avoid the places full of drunken idiots. I might have scared people even though I try to be conscious of it.

            But anyway, what happened to you sounds really terrible and it sickens me that it seems to be a fairly regular occurrence.

  15. Ahh, dickheads. To ward off feelings of powerlessness, they find someone to beat up on, either verbally or physically. They make the world such a beautiful place to walk in.
    I think you can totally be harsher on those men at the station. My experience is, they will stop targeting you when you look like their mother or -better yet- grandmother. But as sleepydumpling points out, they might decide to harass you because of that. I can’t help thinking a feminist SWAT team would be the best solution to the problem. Oh, to really live in a feminist state. SurryHillsBoy, you are indeed correct that there are men who respond to the gains women have made in our society with increased violence: but I think we can safely put the blame on them for that. Thanks for concern-trolling NWN.
    Dickheads place you in double-bind. That’s what they enjoy about the exchange: and what makes it such an unrewarding experience for the target. Sadly, you usually only think to respond to their “how about it baby?” with “that will be $200 a half-hour” afterwards. A woman who posts at Pandagon, judibrown says she responds to leering with “no thank you”. I quite like that one.

  16. WordPress ate my comment again.
    😦

  17. Couldn’t have put this better myself. I think that most of them are just too dumb for realise how they compromise women but it’s no excuse.

  18. NWN, as a guy, I’m sorry you experienced that. I’ve heard similar stories from female friends. I’m a tall-ish guy 180cm-ish. I’ve also seen the non-verbal communication of girls feeling threatened as a walk behind them. For me shoulder blades going up is a common sign. I’m at the point now – I despise walking behind girls late at night. The idea that I’m making a girl feel bad in turn makes me feel like crap. I don’t know how to difuse the situation. Once I was wearing a large black trench coat walking behind a girl after coming off the train on the way home from work. I could feel her tension. I walked passed and said – ‘it’s the coat isn’t it? Sorry. I’m just on my way home up ahead.’. Then I walked ahead in front of her.

    • Mr N, welcome to the News with Nipples. Is this something you talk about with your male friends?

      • Short answer – no. I find it very difficult to find a mature forum to discuss how men should behave with women. I guess that’s one of the reasons I read feminism blogs. I’m trying to work out how I should behave and what should I find to acceptable behaviour from other people. But then again, I need 2-way communication. I can’t just passively read and understand everything. I need a dialogue. Maybe that’s why I post here. 🙂 But sometimes I’m worried – I’ll get my head chewed off. I don’t mean to be a pain – it’s my way to understand the world.
        When ever I try to talk about the topic with male friends – I’m ridiculed. Even just recently, I emailed my friends about their thoughts on lingerie football league – I was met with “how can I get tickets?”

        • Lingerie football is an interesting topic. On one hand, I don’t have a problem with it, because it’s just like roller derby, where women wear little outfits and smash each other. Swimming and diving and gymnastics also require little tight outfits. On the other hand, I do have a problem with any sport in which participants are told to wear something that they are not comfortable wearing because it objectifies them, like the previous outfits worn by the Opals. Or if the participants feel they have to wear little outfits in order to get funding/sponsorship/audiences.

          So, my feeling about it is that lingerie football is fine, in general, because you wouldn’t be playing it if you weren’t comfortable in the outfits, but it becomes problematic within the wider context of a society that demands female athletes be hot and feminine.

          Having said all that, my main problem is with the name. They’re not wearing lingerie. We don’t call it lingerie beach volleyball (even if all the photographers just focus on bottoms). Or lingerie swimming. And calling it lingerie football implies that it’s not to be taken seriously because they’re not really athletes, but those women can kick some serious arse. They are athletes and so why don’t we just call it football?

          I get what you’re saying about being ridiculed for wanting to talk about certain things. I get a bit of it with certain friends, so I’m just a little more relaxed about the way I mention it. “Of course I’m a feminist, I believe that women should be able to have jobs and vote and own property and have the same rights and opportunities as men. Don’t you?” When they say yes, I say, “well, that makes you a feminist, because there are a lot of people who still think that women shouldn’t have those things”. Yes, there’s more to feminism than that, but I think it’s a good place to start with people who buy into the popular culture idea that evil feminists ruin all the fun.

  19. For possible reasons I can offer this – http://www.cracked.com/article_19785_5-ways-modern-men-are-trained-to-hate-women.html
    I post this as maybe a reason to this behaviour, I’m in no way shape or form posting this to excuse this behaviour 🙂

  20. Ergh. This is where my normal use of profanity annoys me, because now I have nothing appropriate left. Fucking pond scum.

    I’m another of those scary-looking guys (tall, reasonably built, short hair). Having once had a stranger try very hard to snog me… I was glad I had 30kg and a foot of reach on her. I cannot comprehend the fear in a reasonable way, because I always have the “look threatening then run like hell” option.

    I also notice the guys that blatantly stare at my girlfriend. We’re talking 180-degree headturning on down-jacket-and-old-jeans days. That’s not a brief admiration, that’s being a creep. I’ve not really noticed a pattern in who does it though, so maybe it’s just a representative percentage of men who are misogynistic arseholes?

    Maybe find the six scariest-looking people you know, and get them to follow you one morning and return any intimidation you get? Especially if you can get one of them to say “your actions towards others are inappropriate and will not be tolerated” ever time they do…

    • This blog certainly has a lot of tall male readers!

      The “intimidate the intimidators” idea makes me smile, but I don’t think they’d really connect the two. And if they did, the threat of being hurt by some big dude would probably give them more anger/hatred towards women. (But it would be satisfying to see.)

      • Apparently so! I try and only use my intimidation for good though.

        As for if it would work, I have found that sometimes people just need it forcibly explained that what they’re doing is unacceptable, though it’d be nice if people would just think first.

  21. So many comments! This is a great discussion. Sorry to read all the yucky stuff that people are reporting. I don’t have any answers; I just wanted to add to what Jane said. I’m now 61, and am more in danger from being trampled by young men because they just don’t notice me than from anything else, I think. And I’m conflicted about that too. As in, hey, look at me, I’m important too! And, I’m glad they don’t look at me like that any more.

  22. This made me giggle, except that I don’t think emus are that bad.

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