This is one of many posts that’s been sitting in my Draft folder here for years. As you can see from the above image, this thread I’m referencing began in January 2018. I discovered it some months later, and planned to write about it but, for whatever reason, never got around to it. I want to start posting regularly here again, so I was going through my drafts and figured it’s time to dust this one off, because it is still (sadly) just as relevant today as it was 3 years ago.
Now, this thread already went viral at the time, in fact I still see it pop up on social media from time to time, in fact I saw these screenshots of the thread shared on Facebook a couple of months ago. I think the main reason why I never got around to posting this is because I wasn’t sure if I had a unique enough take on the issue. I titled this thread toxic masculinity because I think this situation is a good example of why that is something many women fear, and that I think the reaction that far too many men had to this situation is a prime example of toxic masculinity, which includes the attitude that women should stop “fearing men” and should be more open and friendly and, y’know, smile more when approached by strange men on the street. This is a topic I’ve addressed several times before on this blog. And other writers have covered this Twitter thread, and why men need to pay attention to it, probably better than I could have.
What more could I add to this conversation?
Well, as I was looking back at that thread today, I couldn’t help but notice a reply to it, which came a month later, from a man named Ian Hogg. He read Ms Evans’ thread, read her reactions, how she was literally shaking with fear after being hugged by a strange man at a night without her consent, and immediately decided to share his identification with and empathy for her.
Just kidding. Of course the person he actually identified with and felt empathy for was the strange man.
I’m sorry, but the mental gymnastics involved here astound me, although I know it really shouldn’t as I’ve seen this mentality before. Too many men are apparently just incapable of seeing things like this from the woman’s point of view. They can only see themselves as the men in these situations, and since (in their minds at least) they’re good guys with no bad intentions they then automatically assume that other men must also be harmless, and therefore dismiss the woman’s feelings as mistaken
No, instead of worrying about how scared she felt, we really should be focusing on the “pain” that the man who hugged her against her will probably feels. Y’know, because he was just so awkward talking to her, and this made him “panic” and go in for a hug. Aw, poor guy.
Look, I freely admit to having had my awkward days when it comes to talking to girls and women too, frankly I’m not exactly Mr. Smooth now, and yeah, I’ve looked back and kicked myself for things I said that I later realized weren’t good (in my case, it’s mostly dumb jokes when I was trying to be funny or clever), but no matter how awkward I got, I never just grabbed and hugged a strange woman.
Some of those other articles I’ve posted already explain why it’s legitimate for women to be cautious in situations like this, how even if, as Mr. Hogg claims, it’s only .01% of men who are actually dangerous. But I’ll just say, to my fellow men, that WE really need to work on putting ourselves in women’s shoes when we hear these stories. Understand that, no, sorry, but women can’t just automatically tell that we’re not one of the bad guys. Or, as this article I’ve shared before so eloquently states: