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"...another reason I'm intrigued with the hanged of Salem, especially the women, is that a number of them aroused suspicion in the first place because they were financially independent, or sharp-tongued, or kept to themselves. In other words, they were killed off for the same sort of life I live right now but with longer skirts and fewer cable channels." Sarah Vowell, The partly cloudy patriot.


Thank you, Gavin DeBecker, for potentially having saved my life.

Today I had my all-day workshop in a nearby suburb. I took the train to a stop I'd never been to before. When I got off the train, I sort of fubled my way around the station, trying to find my way to the bus. As I was sort of looking around aimlessly, a man came up to me and said "Hi!" while looking me up and down. I flashed in my head back to Gavin DeBecker's advice (I posted it the other day) that if you are lost or need help, don't take it from the person who offers it - you go up and choose someone - because it may be that the person offering is doing so because you look vulnerable, helpless, and like a good victim. *

I wouldn't have engaged with him anyway, but being able to hear DeBecker's words in my head helped so much because I felt that it wasn't just my hunch that he was unsafe, I now had theories and data, and (sadly) a man to back me up. It all helped me feel more justified, and I think it would have created a buffer had he reacted badly. I just walked away (and he followed me for a while, creepy), and completely ignored him, and besides following me, he gave me no problems.

* Now I realize why a recentish Rachael Ray program really bothered me. Some dude from her show went up to women and offered to help them with stuff (carrying things, mostly, as I recall). The dude was pissed off that women didn't take him up on his offers of help, and were suspicious of him. I can't remember what he said, but Rachael Ray joined in. First off, I was pissed at the time because this type of so-called chivalry may actually be a sign of "benevolent sexism." That is, underlying it is the idea that women *need* help because they are weaker. So, it is nice or benevolent because it is helpful - but it is benevolence predicated on the idea that women are weak or incapable of doing things without a man's help. But now I also realize that refusing help is also a survival strategy. As I said in the post on DeBecker's work, one woman was raped (and almost murdered) by a man who offered to carry her groceries up the stairs for her. She knew she didn't want or need help, but felt like she would be a bitch for refusing him (which she actually tried to do).


At 3:37 PM, Blogger trillwing said...

I'm glad things worked out OK.

I remember, when I was a young teenager, picking up a friend's copy of Teen or Seventeen or some such magazine. In it was some traveling advice that struck me as being particularly moronic and dangerous. It was something like, "If you're a young woman traveling in a foreign country and you're lost, simply open up a map, look confused, and spin around in place a couple of times. Someone will help you."



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