The rising tide of female unhappiness

It isn’t just street harassment.
Women face unwanted attention no matter how they get around.

By Vicky Hallett
Washington Post (Express), 2014-11-07

[Vicki specializes in transportation (mainly non-auto) and physical fitness for the Washington Post's give-away paper, the Express.
She fairly uniformly adopts a cheerful, upbeat tone, almost always a pleasure to read.
She definitely doesn't usually use the totally PC, victim-mongering tone of the Post's Petula Dvorak.]

I often feel a compulsion to engage with strangers in public. Staring at a map? I’ll offer you directions. Debating with a buddy on the Metro about what’s the appropriate way to refer to the airport in Arlington? I’ll butt in to let you know my opinion. (It’s “National,” obviously.)

But even I don’t want to talk to people all of the time. And I shouldn’t have to.

The viral video “10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman” has highlighted how often women minding their own business are asked to smile or take a lewd compliment in stride. Ignore a man who says something “nice,” and there’s a risk the next thing out of his mouth will be infinitely worse.

My favorite way of getting around the city is on foot, and I feel physically safe walking almost anywhere. But my enjoyment of a stroll can be considerably diminished — like last Sunday on U Street, when a guy commented on my rear end and then followed me for two blocks. As soon as I lost him by boarding a bus, another dude slid next to me and said, “Hey, what’s your name?”

Talk about an awkward situation.
At least on the sidewalk, it’s possible to change direction.
At least on the Metro, there are other cars to escape to.
Here I was stuck in a window seat,
so I just sat there while he muttered about how rude I was being.

Last week, the Thomson Reuters Foundation ranked
the public transportation systems of 16 of the world’s largest cities
on their safety for women.
New York, the only U.S. city on the list, came out on top.
But just because a ride is safe doesn’t mean it’s comfortable.
I’d guess that the actress in that viral video gets plenty of unwanted attention
when she’s on a crosstown bus too.

Biking isn’t a better option —
female cyclists may be able to maneuver away from creeps quicker,
but they’re still targets.
As for cabs, it’s mostly gentlemen behind the wheel,
but every woman has stories about inappropriate drivers.

So what’s the solution to this problem?
Maybe it’s SheRides.
The new livery service in New York is for female customers,
and makes it a priority to hire female drivers.
It plans to expand to D.C. next year.
Sadly for society, it’s not a bad idea.

[I have no first-hand experience with this issue, as I am a man.
But I do wonder:
Is this problem new?
Is it worse than it used to be?
(Or are women now more sensitive to it, their "consciousness having been raised".)
If it is worse, why is it worse?
Could the reason (gasp) have anything to do with women themselves?
Is their current conduct, after years of making additional demands on men,
itself causing men to hold women in lower regard than they used to?
Has the fact that so many women have chosen
wanting power over wanting to be loved
(a recent example of this is the "leaning in" movement)
caused men to value women less?

No doubt many feminists simply cannot bring themselves
to ever, EVER, blame feminism when things go wrong.
But even for those who just cannot blame feminism,
I think they really do owe a plausible answer as to
whether things are really worse than they used to be,
and if so, why they think that is.
If, on the other hand, men are as they always were,
but now (many) women realize how unjust that is,
then those demanding change need to take
full responsibility for the changes they are demanding.]

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