And the fantasy is dangerous.
Somewhat related: I watched an episode of day recently wherein Plott retold a story about lugging a bunch of camera equipment around in the hot sun, and ended up huffing and sweating and panting and, by happenstance, following along behind a girl. The girl ended up freaking out, running into a nearby house. Plott’s spin on the tale was a sort of “silly girl what did she think was going to happen har har!” Except…
Look. Day-Jay, my man, I love you. But you can be so clueless sometimes.
The girl thought you were going to rape her. That’s what she thought. Your opinion on this reaction is irrelevant. (Also, dude. You’re 6’3″. C’mon. You know you’re physically imposing because you joke about it sometimes on air.)
As Miri Mogilevsky says in her Daily Dot article:
It takes such incredible chutzpah to turn yourself into the victim in that situation. Women are afraid of men because we’re taught to, because we’re blamed for anything that happens when we’re not afraid enough, and because of personal experience. [M]ale privilege means [never having] to feel what that’s like […]The most visceral fear of my life has been when I’ve been walking down a dark street alone and heard footsteps behind me, knowing that the first question I’d be asked if the worst thing imaginable happened would be, “Well, what the hell were you doing out there alone?”
I’m pretty certain that this experience–this fear of the Footsteps Behind–is near-universal in women over a certain age. Even living in low-crime areas and even knowing stranger-rape is comparatively rare.
And, yes. Even in the middle of a hot, sunny day.
And, men reading this? If you’re feeling uncomfortable with the notion of random women perceiving you as a rapist? Firstly, good, you should feel uncomfortable with that. And secondly; fix it. Yes, you. Alter your behaviour. Don’t walk behind women who are walking alone; cross the street, or just stop and wait until they’ve gone. (No, don’t speed up to overtake them; that’s terrifying. Seriously.) If they look at you, wide-eyed and afraid, apologise and make sure you let them know your behaviour is intimidating, and take visible measures to change it. These actions make you a better person, because reducing harm in others always does.
And, for gods’ sakes. Stop turning women’s fears of assault into your punch lines. Please. Not only is it not funny, but it’s more likely to enable other men who do mean harm; even if it’s “only” to frighten and belittle women they think are “overreacting”.
Rape culture sucks for everyone. But men aren’t the ones who live in fear.