Every woman has a story, and this is (some of) Lynn’s:
I have never experienced anything like sexual harassment. It would be too easy, and not at all fair, for me to talk about my life and what kind of person I am in connection with this subject. Girls of my generation were taught that if you dress modestly and act like a lady men will treat you with respect and it seems that it worked for me but to make this assumption ignores the fact that other women have experienced sexual harassment in spite of following the rules. Personally, I think it’s comparable to the old saying about locks — that they only keep out honest people. Just as a thief will still break into your house or car in spite of locks, not even a burka will slow down a true scum bag.
Not all these bags, though, contain scum:
What doesn’t get talked about much is respect, or the lack of it. Sexual harassment is just much farther along the same spectrum of disrespect as condescension and mansplaining. (No, I’m not saying they’re equivalent. Pay attention.) Sexual harassment and sexual violence are more widespread than most people realized but the underlying disrespect is even more widespread. It would be nice to think that the light that is currently being shone on the problem of harassment will lead to bringing an end to it but unless something is done about disrespect for women little will change.
If you are a woman you have been condescended to and mansplained to, and if you challenge the man who does this he will invariably react with hurt and outrage. I firmly believe that the vast majority of men do not even realize that they are doing it. If you point it out to them they will righteously swear that they were “just talking” and go away convinced that “you just can’t talk to women” or some such dismissive thoughts.
Some guys just can’t talk to women, perhaps because they believe in their glands, if not necessarily their hearts, that any woman can be conquered with the right words. Were that the case, I’d have a waiting list attached to my dance card; what little attention I’ve attracted over the years is largely due to my curious ability to sound more interesting than I actually am, an ability which wanes with time.
That said, if you catch me being condescending it’s not because you’re a woman; it’s because I’m a jerk.