I think I can see why you would feel that these pictures somewhat seem to be generalizing men as all being evil and rude. But that’s not what this is about. And it’s not telling men they can’t talk to women- like that’s a really nice idea of you to try to cheer someone up. But there is an atmosphere of danger that comes with walking on the street alone as a women- even if we have never been harassed or approached before, we have grown up being constantly warned of how to be safe while walking alone- keep your headphones out, carry pepper spray, be alert, aim for the crotch; and that’s going to make us feel like we’re on the defensive whenever we’re in public alone. Especially on a city street, where there is a lot of cat calling and such.
And then on the news you hear all of these terrifying stories and so you have this fear in you. And perhaps the man who pulls up next to you and says “Smile beautiful!” in a loud voice and imperative tone truly means well; but for us, that is a little bit scary because it fits in with our ensivisionings of terrible things that we are told all of our life that we need to anticipate and be ready for. And sometimes there are people who follow up that yelling with terrible things like verbal assault, physical attacks, robbery, rape, and more. It’s really scary to be a woman sometimes. Rape is terrifying and we know it’s not a myth. And when we hear those people calling out, it ignites that trepidation in us, at least some of us. And do you ever just sometimes go somewhere and hope you don’t see anyone you know and just want to have time to yourself, to think, to enjoy your walk? It’s not so fun when people are screaming at you and you feel threatened.
It sucks to have to think about if you have a rip in your tights that might provoke someone to say something to you while you’re trying to find your way to the women’s health facility. It sucks to have to plan your outfits in a way that seeks to avoid harassment- even if you feel really good in that skirt you just got you know it might cause a comment that will make you really uncomfortable so it stays in your closet.
These are just un-extreme examples. Rape happens more than people realize. And something that really bothers me is that we women are constantly being warned about how to try to avoid being raped. Wear this, don’t walk this way, carry this, go out at this time, not at this time. But almost never do you hear people teaching men (and women too!) about consent. Sex Signals came to our school and did a great job of it. And there are instances. But for the most part, it’s all on women. And that is a sign of patriarchy. That does not mean that men are evil or that feminists think that. It just means that we want to be heard and not have to worry about things that men don’t- like how their clothes are going to affect their experience on a short five minute walk in terms of how people in the vicinity react to them- because that’s not fair.
That’s why these signs are so aggressive. Because we’ve tried, “Could you please?” and “Um maybe why don’t we?” and things have not changed. We are loud and angry because we’re tired of it. If these signs shocked you a little, maybe they were meant to do so. They are being aggressive because they are passionate about their cause. It’s like when my mom yells and she says, “No one heard or reacted to me when I asked nicely”. These signs are angry and cold because they are protesting. We shouldn’t have to say please and ask for respect. We demand it.
That’s why those signs are that way. They are aggressively protesting violence against women- and against all people. Sometimes you have to be loud and aggressive- and that’s why my answer to you was cold too. I am apart of that protest and I thought you were belittling it. But I understand now. Thank you for explaining this. I apologize if I ranted. I just feel really strongly that there should be equality between genders; and it’s frustrating to wait for something so important to me. I don’t want to have a daughter someday and have to watch her realize that she is more in danger walking alone than is her brother. You know what I mean? If feminists come off angry, it’s because we are tired of injustice. That’s all.