Thank you to both of you for sharing your experiences on this delicate and sad topic. I think you make some very important points that are worth spreading.
One is our natural tendency to minimize the man’s behavior (i used to do that a lot) or to blame myself for ‘maybe’ being unclear as to what i wanted or did not want. But i now realize that i was justifying an ‘assume she consents until she say no’ attitude rather than an ‘assume she says No unless she clearly says yes’ attitude which should really be the respectful behavior here. Something like this..
Men who have dignity will never behave in the first way, but it is the sad reality that these are scarcier nowadays.
Second is women’s reactions to hide themselves as a consequence, therefore perpetuating the wrong behavior of these men. Of course, i’m not saying we should all go out wearing close to nothing on our body, and i understand that one would teach their kids to be safe instead of sorry – i totally understand why parents would project their fear onto their kids and they do it will the intention to protect them. But i believe instead, we should teach our kids to not live out of fear (also because we don’t want them to become paranoid at some point), but rather teach them to behvae out of respect for themselves. Teach them to judge by themselves what clothes/behavior feels like they’re respecting themselves and what clothes/behavior feels the contrary. Trust that they will be smart enough to progressively learn to rely on their own judgment to honor and keep themselves safe. Remember that they won’t always have a parental rule over their head and it is better to teach them a way of thinking that they can apply to anything, not just men aggression.
The outcome might seem the same to a parent’s eye (-> don’t wear that shorts to go out), but i believe when it comes from a place of love (self respect, strength) instead of fear (victim mentality, weakness) and imposed rules, it does makes a significant difference. Again, I believe it will develop the child’s ability to make responsible decisions for him/herself in all situations.
Third, which is something that i find to be the only real efficient way to protect oneself (because as you both said, even when you looked tom-boyish or cleanly dressed these men’ advances kept coming your way), is to pay more attention to one’s intuition. Your body ALWAYS know when something is wrong, well before your mind does (even though you might not have heard it while walking in that forest). At some point we know, and if all women learn to be open, give more importance and trust their inner sense of knowing, and then use their rational mind to find a way out of the situation BEFORE it gets out of hand, then i believe they will always be safe
A man whom i trusted recently tried to force himself on me. It was a surprise to me because he is my ex of TEN years ago (!), and again, because i trusted him and considered him more like family now. He’s physically about 10 times stronger than me, but my ‘rage’, to quote Katherine, was not to be underestimated. I got out of the situation not driven by fear but by my fierce intention to be respected and hold my boundaries. And i do NOT blame myself at all for the fact that HE tried (i didn’t do one single thing to provoke that). His action was his decision solely, not mine.
Some men need to learn respect (thank god not all of them) and they will some day, as long as we women are willing to stand our ground in maintaining our boundaries (and i want to say that it is never too late to assert these boundaries in case they weren’t clear enough for the man).
I don’t have revolutionary solutions but i hope you will accept these as my two cents on this rather complex topic :)
Wish you and your family the best!