Men love women in theory, but in practice, it’s not so clear
A couple of years ago, I ran a little experiment at an event aimed at talking to men and women about the dangers of street harassment. Using real-life stories collected from women I knew I gave out scenarios in which women and girls were streets harassed, followed, or even assaulted by men for no other reason than walking down the street. After each scenario, I would ask the guys in the room to let me know what could have been done to avoid the situation altogether.
It was a simple exercise with a simple goal. For the people in the room to see the role they or their fellow males play in terrorizing women. Unfortunately, that’s not the conclusion the room came to. In literally every scenario, they placed the blame solely at the feet of the women. The most shocking example was a story a friend shared from when she was in Junior High. While walking home from school with some friends, a stranger pulled up next to them and tried to pull her into his car. When she and her friends resisted, he followed and then chased them for several blocks. When they screamed for help, no one responded. After a couple of minutes, the assailant gave up and drove away. When challenged with what could have been done differently, one of the gentlemen in the room asked what the girls were wearing, and why they were walking home by themselves.
I left that event frustrated and confused. How could a group of men who claim to love and value women, be so ready to blame them for the trauma that we (men) had caused? Then it dawned on me, every man I know talks about his love and appreciation of women. But outside of his mother, is that real? Honestly, I don’t think so.
Similar to the way the average white person relates to black and brown people, men have an aggressively problematic relationship with women. We love them in theory, but not in practice. Do men love fucking women? Yes. Looking at them? Absolutely, dating and even marrying women? Sure. But when it comes to acknowledging their humanity and seeing them for more than just an object, things get fuzzy.