Hmmm. First the wild thrashing about, trying to put some shape around my ideas: then a bit more clarity. So, for those confused by my last post, I think this is much clearer.
Some of the feedback, and some of my writing aligns links to a problem I have written about extensively, which is to do with seeing discrimination in terms of protected characteristics, and the tendency of this approach to create “hierarchies of victimhood and oppression”.
That said, the last post was about something much more fundamental. The best way to describe it, i think, is a journey from purely liberal/libertarian, in which everyone has the same rights and is free to use them to a more nuanced understanding of what power asymmetry means.
Of course, i always understood the latter intellectually: it is just that there is intellectual understanding – and “knowing” something through experience.
I think, maybe, what has changed is that thinking in more blokish terms, i used to take every encounter as disconnect from the rest of my experience. Someone has a go at me. I deal with it. Sorted. Move on.
The difference, which i think equates much more closely with the more typical lived female existence, is that the weekend incident cannot, for me, be disconnected from all else. My constant life experience nowadays is one of low level wariness: the knowledge that the next person who looks at me funny, no matter how safe i have been for weeks, months even, could turn round and have a go.
The bloke at the leisure centre probably honestly did not see his words as that big a deal. If i had been any other bloke, i’d probably have shrugged, and gone: yeah, yeah. So what?
Even if he’d hit me, it would have been a one-off. (Am I discounting male-male violence. Not exactly: just that I think now, as I always have done, that that often signifies something different from male-female violence)
What he couldn’t get is how wary i was before. How much his outburst turned the entire day into one marked by fear, added several hours of dealing with police and officials and, as the weekend and the point i have to return to the centre draws close, makes me far far more nervous about my “right” to walk out in public.
No. No-one is going to have a go. There will be a police officer on hand. But i will walk through a crowd in which some people will be glaring, or talking about me the moment my back is turned. You can get how horrid that feels.
So-o…that, for me, reveals an asymmetry i hadn’t previously got. A woman can say she’ll thump a man: a man can say he’ll thump a woman: in liberal analysis, those two are equivalent. In my new existence, the two really aren’t.
The first is shrugged off in moments: the second confirms an already present set of fears and concerns.
Thinking is still evolving here…but i am beginning to see that this is a very new direction for me.
(er…and I will, of course, thump the first person who says: “told you so”🙂 )