How It’s Different For Women

A few weeks ago I was driving to a speaking engagement and realized I was low on gas. Really low. I tend to do a lot of writing in my head while I drive and that means things like gas levels don’t register until the car lets me know there might be an issue.

The nearest gas station was in a not-great part of a not-so-safe town. But my choices were to break down on the freeway, or put on my big girl pants and go get gas and hope that nobody got it into their head to try to take them off of me.

It was fine, nothing happened. I got gas and kept my head up and paid attention to my surroundings and went on without a single incident – not even a catcall. But this post isn’t about how what I thought might be an iffy situation turned out to be fine.

It’s about the conversation that came about after that.

I was relating this to a friend of mine – male – who is a good friend, and an honestly great person who tends to come down on the same side of most issues as I do. So I was surprised when he said, “You know it’s scary for a guy in that situation too, right?”

And yes, it is. I get that.

But here’s how it’s different.

Assuming the bad-ending result of a man’s story who stops at a sketchy gas station is that he is attacked, and let’s go ahead and say that he is stabbed as well. Not minimizing anything, this is his fallout:

1) Physical pain, injury and recovery
2) PTSD from being assaulted
3) Loss of money / wallet / concerns of ID theft
4) Loss of masculinity – although, I would argue that since in my scenario his opponent is armed and he is not, this would be minimal. In fact, it may even enhance his masculinity because he’s been stabbed.

Here’s how it’s different for a woman who is raped in the same scenario:

1) Physical pain, injury and recovery
3) Loss of money / wallet / purse, concerns of ID theft
4) Possible transmission of STD’S, some of which the carrier may have for the rest of their life, and be obligated to inform potential partners of.
5) Possibility of an unwanted pregnancy, that the woman has to decide whether to terminate or not, and suffer the emotional fall out from.
6) The event being present in the minds of both the woman and her partner when they have consensual sex following the attack – and for awhile afterwards, I would assume.
7) Being viewed as “used goods” or “dirty” after the event – both by others and herself.
8) Being viewed as complicit in her own assault:
          Why was she traveling alone?
          Does she not know that’s a bad part of town?
          Why didn’t she check the gas level sooner?
          What did she think would happen if she stopped there?

Every one of the things listed above has many subcategories, but for the sake of length I’m leaving it at the basics, which as you can see already doubles the male’s fallout.

This is why it’s different.

6 thoughts on “How It’s Different For Women

  1. I'm a college student and my university purposefully makes students who live on campus park a half hour's walking distance away from our apartments. There's plenty of parking available closer, but they do it to discourage us from bringing cars to school. Questions like this are on my mind every time I use my car or even plan on using it. Whenever I want to shop, schedule a doctor's appointment, or drive home to see my family over the weekend, I have to weigh the benefit of doing so against the cost of returning late and having to walk back alone in the dark.

  2. Thank you everyone! I know plenty of men who are aware of their privilege and acknowledge it, but it's the things they *don't* have to think about that help to illustrate how our lives are different in small ways – constant worry and tension over (as you said, Erica) walking to or from your car at night.

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