Male privilege and women in elevators.

So here’s my first bit of advice to those of my male gender.

Slow down or cross the street if you’re following a woman walking ahead of  you in the middle of the night on a lonely street.  

Male and female showing male privilege  in elevators.

Male privilege and women in elevators.

My current book deals with male privilege among other things. Last week I thought back to one of my earliest realizations of this phenomenon.

Male privilege realization.

I was old enough to be walking around my sleepy town at night —maybe age 15 or so. I discovered that I needed to vary my walking pace —or even stop and look into a store window—to prevent a solo woman ahead of me from worrying about my intentions.

I  learned also to cross a street whenever I got within a block or so of a woman walking slow enough that I would overtake her.

A male privilege primer of sorts.

My second bit of advice stems from media articles in 2011 that discussed an incident where a guy in an elevator late in the evening asked a female stranger to his hotel room to have coffee. Her name was  Rebecca Watson, and her published account of the situation—despite the fact that nothing happened when she politely refused—got a lot of attention,

If you’re tempted to proffer such an invitation—a seemingly innocent act—don’t.

Read on.

A guy tells a similar story of his female partner breathlessly telling him about being with a stranger in an elevator after dark. She gushes, “Do people get what it is like for a woman to have a man join her on an elevator in the middle of the night? Do they understand that this is ALWAYS something that raises one’s stress level, even if just a little?”


“Sometimes more, sometimes less, it depends on your state of mind, the time of day, all sorts of other factors, but if I’m in a hotel somewhere in the middle of the night and some guy I don’t know gets on the elevator, my stress level goes up and stays there until one of us gets off. If he says something to me other than ‘nice weather we’re having’ I get much more stressed. That’s true to some degree for all women.”

“Elevator? What?” She was going fast, almost upset.“If the guy did what that guy did, asking me to his room, I’d totally Freak.”

Ah. She was talking about Elevator Guy.. . .

Anyway, in life I was not as clueless as the above dialog suggests. Amanda hadn’t really been thinking about the issue at all, and the moment she gave it any thought she immediately concluded that Elevator Guy did the wrong thing and that Rebecca Watson, in pointing this out to the clueless, was doing all women. . . a service. And every other woman that I’ve spoken to about this has said the same thing, more or less.

Guys (and some gals) who are not getting this are making two mistakes. First, they consider the event post hoc and say that no one was attacked or raped, therefore there was no threat of rape or anything else serious. If it didn’t happen, it couldn’t have happened. (I will assume you get why that is stupid.) Second, they think of this sort of thing generally and figure that the chances that Elevator Guy was a real threat was low. Why or how they assess this is beyond me, since they weren’t there, but I suppose statistically it is a reasonably valid guess …

Or not. And it is the “or not” part that a woman MUST pay attention to in order to live her life as long as she can before her first sexual assault, or to increase the amount of time spent between her last sexual assault and her next one, or to make the next sexual assault hopefully non-fatal or . . .”

Male privilege and women in elevators.Themissinfo


Have you ever been alone with a stranger of the opposite sex late at night? If so, what happened and how did you feel about it?

To learn about CLEFT HEART: Chasing Normal, click the Amazon or Barnes & Noble buttons in the margins. Or click the image of the book cover. My coming-of-age memoir has intertwining love stories, mystery, tragedy, and triumph.

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