I was riding in the car the other day with my wife and two other women. Stuck in slowly moving traffic, they noticed that the man in the car next to us was texting. Disgusted, my wife yelled out her window to him, “Put the phone down!” My immediate reaction was to tell her to be quiet. “If he gets pissed off,” I said, “who do you think he’s going to take it out on? The three women, or the dude in the car?” Silence descended.
I sat back, knowing that I’d overreacted. Still, the incident shocked me into the realization that women get away with a lot simply because they’re women. A woman can say anything she wants to a man and he will never be justified in striking her. Set up the same scenario between two men and it will likely come to blows.
If my wife and are are walking down the street hand-in-hand and she decides to say something aggressive to a strange man, his reaction will depend in part on whether he thinks I’m a man or a second woman. A man with any sense of decency at all will leave two women alone, but if he reads me as a guy, then I’m fair game. This means that the nasty comments my wife, my friends, and I have heretofore delivered to men without consequence will now put me at risk of physical violence.
I’d better take a self-defense class.