If you were wondering why women feel unsafe around you, here’s why:

So, a few days ago, I wrote this.

That letter is a semi-autobiographical composite based on a guy who not only stalked me and made me feel uncomfortable and unsafe, but did the same to several other women, including friends of mine. Some of those things he did to me; some of those things he did to other women; some of those things he told us about during group gatherings, seemingly under the impression that we would empathise with him in his struggle against all the terrible, horrible, no-good, very-bad women of the world.

When I wrote that letter, it wasn’t really aimed at the Nice Guy in question (I honestly haven’t seen or heard from him in months, and thank [insert deity/deities/lack of deity here] for that). It was written for every woman who, like me, has known a guy like that or been “befriended” by a guy like that or feared for her life because of a guy like that.

Because yeah, that’s a thing. Women fear for their lives because of guys like that.

That guy? When I very politely told him that I needed him to message me less, the backlash started immediately. He trashed me on social media. He would show up to events he knew I’d be at and find reasons to sit across from me, saying nothing the entire time. He told people what a bitch I’d been to him. He started making ultimatums – he would stop being friends with people if they so much as mentioned me in his presence. He knew where I lived, where I worked, where my family members lived and worked. He had mentioned violent impulses (both internally and externally aimed) several times during our brief “friendship”. He had made life difficult and uncomfortable for friends of mine in the past (which I did not know when I first met him), and now he was doing it to me. And while I like to think that I’m a fairly strong, independent kind of girl who can fend for herself, and while this guy seemed pretty quiet and shy and like he was more bark than bite, I was still pretty fucking scared.

The thing is, women don’t know which guy’s going to get violent when we tell them no.

Will it be the guy who approaches us in a club and insists on buying us a drink even though we repeatedly say we don’t want one? (Friend’s 20th birthday a few years ago – he eventually went and started buying drinks for someone else instead, and my friends and I watched the girl he was talking to like a hawk all night to make sure he didn’t have a chance to get her alone.)

Will it be the guy who calls us a bitch because he was “just trying to make conversation” while we were reading a book with our earphones in? (Outside a shopping centre in broad daylight while I was waiting for a friend to pick me up. He screamed in my face for twenty minutes while I kept telling him he needed to leave. Passers-by did absolutely nothing but look at me in annoyance, as though I was responsible for this public disturbance that was getting in the way of their grocery shopping.)

Will it be the guy who tries talking to us on the bus when we just want to get home after a long day at work, his voice raising in volume every time we steadfastly ignore his leering “compliments”? (Guy who used to catch the bus route that took me past my house. I would wait until the bus had driven off before walking home just so he couldn’t watch me go to my front gate, and I would always make sure to lock it behind me just in case.)

Will it be the guy who offers us lifts everywhere and goes shopping with us and buys us gifts and worms his way into our circle of trust so that eventually we start letting him into our private spaces, where nobody will see if he attacks us?

It could be any of them. It could be all of them. For some woman, somewhere, it has been one or more or all of them. (For some man, somewhere, it has also been one or more or all of them. Predators thrive on societies that will not believe the claims of their prey.)

None of this is news to you, I’m sure – or, if you have even the slightest hint of cultural awareness, it shouldn’t be.

But it was apparently news to this guy:

 

This is an image a commenter made calling me a

not creepy at all, dude. not. creepy. at all.

 

What starts with “r” and ends with “ape culture” and is incredibly well-illustrated by this image? I’ll let you supply the answer.

This is why women feel unsafe around you, Nice Guys – because when we stand up to you, when we point out that your behaviour is predatory and your advances are unwanted and that we want to be treated like actual human beings, your immediate response is to tear us down, belittle us and invalidate us. We feel unsafe around you because you are possessed of so much entitlement that when we don’t repay your (unwanted!) favours with romance and sex, you label us whores and liars and sociopaths. And you are backed up, not just by the friends who don’t want to make things “awkward” by barring you from social gatherings, but by the entire fucking patriarchy, right down to random internet strangers who don’t even know us but will construct elaborate “proofs” that your predatory behaviour is our fault because we should have known what we were getting into when we accepted what looked like an offer of friendship.

You want to know why we don’t want that drink? Want to know why we don’t want a bar of your “normal social interaction” (ha) or your “polite conversation” or your compliments that you swear are innocent?

Because any one of you could be the guy I wrote that letter about. Because any one of you could be the guy backing him up by calling me a sociopath and a liar. Because any one of you could be the one we shouldn’t have trusted, and because when you hurt us, any one of you could be the ones insisting it was our fault all along.

You want to know why women feel unsafe around you? It’s because you’re fucking unsafe, asshole.

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27 thoughts on “If you were wondering why women feel unsafe around you, here’s why:

  1. You want to know why women feel unsafe around you? It’s because you’re fucking unsafe, asshole… I couldn’t have summed it up any better. What a total creeper. I’m sorry to read that this happened to you. The sad part is that your story is just one of way too many for women (everywhere) but especially on the internet. Because let’s face it, even one story like this is too many.

  2. Pingback: If you were wondering why women feel unsafe around you, here’s why: | Linda Art

  3. I’m sorry this happened to you Jay – I think this particular incident happened because I shared your post on Twitter and this troll picked it up. This Twitter account is clearly trawling for feminism posts and they’re launching tirades against women writing about women’s issues. By labelling women’s stories as “misandry,” “bullying,” “chauvinism,” “oppression,” and so on is an attempt to disempower women and derail important conversations about gender.
    I’ve reported their tweet with your image and linked it to my original tweet (and their messages to me about you). I noted in my report that the account is inciting gender violence and that their behaviour is meant to intimidate women and stop them from fully participating in Twitter. Twitter has a major problem with hate speech and they do not manage this well, but it’s still important to report it and force change. I always report abuse, even if it’s not specifically directed at me.. If anyone’s interested, you can report abusive tweets here: https://support.twitter.com/forms/abusiveuser
    Everyday sexism is meant to normalise gender violence. Trivialising everyday exchanges, like a friend who nags, shames and intimidates you to be “more than friends,” makes it seem like women should just put up with feelings of discomfort, humiliation and fear. “What’s the big deal, learn to take a compliment? Just go one date, be flattered someone likes you.” No! Harassing women for rejecting men has appalling consequences, causing women to feel afraid, specifically because it’s connected to broader patterns of inequality and violence.
    Creating a safe space for women to share their experiences on social media matters.
    Keep up your excellent blog, Jay.

    • This incident didn’t happen because of you – it happened because that guy chose to be a creep. Let’s place the blame where it lies here.

      Thanks for being supportive and proactive. 🙂

  4. Wow. that guy who profiled you as a sociopath clearly did NOT get it. Those so-called ‘nice’ acts of friendship were not acts of friendship, but payment in advance of ‘entitled’ sexual favors. When you did not behave as he ‘paid’ for, he felt cheated and became vindictive towards you. That is not the same as a 17 y/o sending a valentine and declaring her love.

    You clearly stated if he had been upfront, you could have had the free choice of accepting a BF relationship or not. Or you could have been *real* friends, not fake ones where he is trying to buy you and feels entitled to you.

    He labels you a sociopath for ‘using’ this guy. The ‘nice’ was *pretending* to be a friend. Accepting a cup of coffee or a ride home is using him? Not if he were a real friend and not using these acts as a transaction.

    When the ‘sociopath’ writer told the 17 y/o he did not reciprocate her feelings, did she trash him all over town, stalk him, threaten him? No, the two are not the same.

  5. It seems that whenever you try to communicate to someone that you aren’t comfortable with their attention, they step things up to prove you right.
    It makes me so angry.
    Stay Safe.

  6. Very good article. I have met men and have heard about men exactly like this. It saddens me that society isn’t teaching men not only how to respect women but also how to respect all people.

    To me my father was my role model. He taught me how to be who I am; I take after him. How he treated my mother and how he treated me is how I treat everyone I know.

    You don’t know me; I respect women, I respect people, I respect animals. I respect life.

    I know when my actions may appear to be predatory and try to distance myself. I believe all people have the right to feel safe. From time to time I find myself in a unfortunate circumstance, for example, late at night getting off at a bus, another women gets off before me, I walk my usual way home, she walks the same route that I do, I hope she is not going the way I am going, I can see she is uncomfortable so I walk the long way home to respect her right to be safe.
    For this I hate rape culture, I hate that this can happen.

    If I didn’t have my parents, If they were not the people they are, I’m not sure if I could say the same.

    • Not to sound insensitive to something that you see as a struggle for women, as I am a woman, but it is not on you to make sure the woman in front of you feels comfortable. That is not your struggle, it is hers. I have been that woman, but I would never want a stranger to go the long way home to make me comfortable. Its a nice gesture. The way I see it- you walking near her may save her life. You walking that way home every night might be the only thing that stops an actual predator. It is not your (man’s) job to take care of us (women) anymore. We made it that way and it’s on us to take care of us. We decided sonewhere/sometime, that men will not hold our doors or help change our tires. We decided to take the bus and walk home beside, behind, or in front of strangers. Don’t be scared to be nice. Don’t be nervous to be real. And please don’t be scared to walk home the way you please, because that is just changing out a possible negative for her for one of your own. No woman I know would want this. If you feel uncomfortable because you are scared that she feels uncomfortable, tell her. Say it clearly… I just wanted to let you know ma’am, I live on blank?street, I just didn’t want you to be nervous because I’m walking behind you… or jog right by her. Chances are she will recognize you from previous bus rides so she may not even be scared.

  7. This is a great article and everything makes complete sense aside from why women and men have to deal with people who believe that good deeds don’t go unblowjobbed.

    Aside from actually not being raped or assaulted, how do we know beforehand if someone is trying to groom you for something more sinister? How do we know when someone’s advances aren’t just following the persistence of some romeo or juliet they’ve seen in a popular movie and believe to be honourable? So many times I’ve been watching a movie that’s an acclaimed love story when the lead characters (male and female) are either displaying remarkably predatory behaviour that is eventually rewarded by love and acceptance due to their relentless pursuance and stereotypically elaborate romantic gestures. Of course most people are familiar with movies not really being true to life but the ideas about love, romance, sex, marriage etc. portrayed by even children’s producers like Disney can firmly cement these ideals in our minds and present a precedent for our entire lives unless otherwise educated.

    I’m typing this wondering if I’ll get an understanding answer rather than “this guy just wants to know how to trick women into believing he’s not a predator of varied description” and I can’t really make you think anything other than what you will. All I’m trying to do is learn how to explain to my daughter when she’s old enough. Although I strongly believe in being approachable and helping her understand that it’s better to be open and honest than keep a secret to avoid getting into trouble, I want her to know what to look for when I’m not around any more. She’s only 5 and this sort of thing keeps me awake at night..

    • I’m amazed that no one has responded to you. You are correct in saying that society is conditioned by fairytales etc. So often a woman falls for the bad guy (the fixer upper) and endures bad treatment in the story until he has his aha moment. When the story does change, it is a woman falling for the bad guy with the good guy best friend. The best friend treats her like a princess, wipes away the bad guy induced tears, etc. Good guy moves on and woman has her aha moment at the last minute. Example: frozen (kids movie) and made of honor (chick flick). So yes there is conditioning. It also works out like this in real life often so it’s no surprise that some people expect it.

      As far as your daughter is concerned, there is only so much you can do to teach her or warn her. Mostly you can be the example that shows her what men should and can be like. Show her how to be a woman that men like that will be drawn to. Make sure she knows how friends and love interest differ. Be the dad that she will want to impress as an adult instead of the dad she will want to spite. Ensure that she will want to be the best woman she can be because of you and not in spite of you.

      Mostly make sure that she not only knows how to give rejection, but also how to take rejection. Because to me, it seems in the story above that this is the biggest problem. The rejection was a shock to the guy and he did not know how to take rejection. I don’t necessarily think we have an agreeable opinion of a predator. A predator to me is the 24 yr old who took a 12 yr olds virginity, or the 40 year old man that lived near me, who left notes on my car and called my home when I was 16. Not a guy who goes around a small town telling people that she doesn’t know what she’s missing. That sounds like a guy shocked by rejection. Immature and pointless for sure – predatory, probably not. As far as the telling friends not to mention a name, I’ve been there. Cheated on by my boyfriend of 3 yrs. Just hearing his name broke my heart. I didn’t necessarily give friends an ultimatum but I did ask them not to talk to me about him because I did not want to know anything. As far as I was concerned, he didn’t exist until they brought him up. Maybe this guy had the same thing going on. Maybe he was truely in love with her and thought she may reciprocate. Maybe hearing her name made him feel his heart breaking all over. Just because she didn’t love him, doesn’t mean he didn’t love her.

      Unless I missed something in the articles, it seems he was just handling his heartache in his own way. How many of us haven’t said something bad about a person who broke our hearts? He just had some friends in common with her so she heard the things being said. I think most can relate. But when we (women) do it, we are just venting. When men do it, they are evil or dangerous? Double standard. So much for this empowering women to be equal thing so many claim to fight for. Seems like alot want to be treated better, not equal. Posting an open letter to the “nice guy” after not hearing from him for months is proof of that. He responded ad said those things out of resentment from heartache, while the open letter was a vengeful act after the fact.

      With that in mind, a very important thing to teach our children is to treat people equal all the time, not just when it’s convenient.

      Now, I apologize if I missed something. But I call it like I see it – in my marriage, with my family/friends, and online. And double standards have no place in equality.

  8. Thank u so much Aaminah for the previous letter and for sharing this story with us now!
    It is so important to talk about it, still we do not do it enough (I think..).
    Experienced sth. close to it (the only good thing was, he lived some 100km away from me!) and didnt know how to react or what to do.. Seemed hard to explain why I started to be afraid of “the nice guy” .

  9. You know, if that guy had chosen to make his points in a polite, well-measured essay, I’d have been on board with a number of them.

    However, he chose to use the “Psycho Medium” and did everything but cut out eyes, just like you see in the movies.

  10. It horrifies me to think that my daughter may one day have to deal with this crap. Keep up the good work driving awareness of these issues.

  11. You are exactly right. Many girls takes chances which hurts them. I, myself, don’t trust men. I have a boyfriend who I trust, but if me and him broke up, I would be so hard to get. Not because I wanted to be, but because I am afraid of men. Though I feel sorry for those men who actually have nothing bad in their minds, but then again, as you wrote, it could be anybody who is unsafe to be around with.

  12. Pingback: The 72nd Down Under Feminist Carnival is here! | bluntshovels

  13. Respect is important, consent is important. It hurts me so much when I see people not understanding this. When suddenly friends I’ve known for a long while, male and female, start to show this kind of behaviour och opinions. Having to explain to a female workmate of mine why Blurred Lines is not a song you should be listening to, sets my teeth on edge. All the Mr Nice Guys or You Friendzoned Me Guys, they can all go and exist in a little box somewhere in a closet where I can pretend they don’t exist.

  14. I’m glad you wrote this follow up piece to your proverbial nice guy letter. I hadn’t realized the seriousness of the situation. This really helped fill in the gaps. I read some of your other articles today as well… and was impressed by how courageous and honest you are in your writing.

  15. Reblogged this on Iconography ♠ Incomplete and commented:
    The stalking and tactics of men (and women) are really disgusting. I am so sorry Aaminah Khan had to go through this and the only she told the guy was to message her less :/ It is her message feed she can do whatever she wants with it.

  16. Painfully reminded of an older guy at college who creepily pursued me for a long time, then when he finally asked the question and was rebuffed, decided this made us BFFs, and started being even more creepy. I only found out afterwards that he turned up at our flat and severely outstayed his welcome several times waiting with my flat mates (who were too polite to tell him to fuck off, as I also was when he turned up unannounced) for me to come home.

    What bugs me incessantly is that I am absolutely 100% sure that he has never realised his behaviour was inappropriate and SUPER CREEPY, and that he considers himself a Nice Guy (TM).

    Ugh. *shudders*

    Great post, anyway.

    • Oh, and he finally stopped stalking me when I (very briefly) went out with someone else. Because me not wanting to go out with him was just a road bump, but he had respect for another man’s claim on me… *rolleyes* after which – to my huge lack of surprise – he stopped trying to be ‘friends’ (in an if I’m friends with her for long enough maybe she’ll start to fancy me) with me.

      I was so completely relieved when, some months later, he introduced me to his new girlfriend. She always was slightly offish with me… I suspect that the story changed mightily in the retelling :-/

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