No, Dave. Do not conversationally engage with me when I am out at night, walking to my car, stopping by the store for a few things on my way home, or at the gas station, or leaving a restaurant or any of the other hundred activities I might be engaged in, at night, in which I am simultaneously calculating my chances of being raped before I make it to safety.
Do not conversationally engage with me when I am out for a jog at dusk, pounding steps and also thinking about how many minutes I can run before I need to turn around so I can make it home before dark, because dark seems to give violent men more courage.
Do not conversationally engage with my daughter, who at 12 years old is tall, developed, and looks much older. She gets plenty of conversational engagement already. She also gets “visual engagement” from men of all sorts, too: young men who might assume she is in their age group, and men who are nowhere close. I don’t want to educate her on the ways to disengage, conversationally or otherwise, but I do. Yesterday we practiced our “Ice Queen Glare” together, as we walked down the sidewalk in broad daylight, after two men in a car drove by, hanging out of their windows, leering at my daughter and her best friend. That was in daylight.
Instead of using your energy to conversationally engage with women you don’t know who have shown no interest in engaging with you, how about using your energy to engage your imagination, in these ways:
- Imagine that whenever you go to the park to walk the circular track, you keep a running tally of how many people are with you, and if they are “safe.” Women are safe. Couples are safe. Men alone are not safe.
- Imagine the calculations you make every day, every time you are in a situation in which a) you are alone and b) a strange man is or could be nearby. Do you think we enjoy these calculations? Do you think we want to use our brain power this way? I’d rather memorize poetry, dude. I’d rather contemplate the beauty of the cosmos, how my kids are doing in school, what I want for dinner. But I also don’t fucking want to be raped, so I make these calculations.
- Imagine holding your cell phone to your ear, pretending to have a conversation with your boyfriend, husband, brother (also imaginary), Dad, anyone in order to discourage that random guy near you from conversationally engaging. Imagine that your solitude is seen as an invitation by those of the opposite sex.
- Imagine going out in public with your daughters. Imagine watching the men: the old men, the middle-aged men, the younger men, the teenage just-becoming-men. Imagine watching those men watching your daughter. Watching their eyes roll downward, scraping slowly across your daughter’s body, down her torso, down her legs, back up again. Imagine how much you want to hide her away from them, from their entitlement, from their thievery, from their engagement. Imagine how much you want to scream in their faces. That’s the kind of conversational engagement I could really go for, come to think of it.
I realized I had more to say on this subject, so I wrote a separate piece. It’s here: