At 15 a boy told me that if I really liked him, I’d fool around with him. Afterwards, he said he only saw me as a friend, but we should still have sex sometime. But not all guys are like that.
My first time going to a nightclub, I was pushed into dancing with a guy I didn’t know. After he tried to stick his hand in my pants under my dress, I pushed him away and he followed me til I found my friends, who said ‘that’s normal, it’s just what happens’. But not all guys are like that.
My boyfriend of 2 and a half years called me a liar and untrustworthy because I decided I wasn’t actually in the mood to have sex. It was easier to lie there and fake orgasms than have the fight that would ensue if I said ‘no’. He was a ‘nice guy’, and probably has no idea that what he did was rape. But not all guys are like that.
Walking through town one evening, some dude tried to strike up a conversation. I clearly wasn’t interested, but he followed me for 5 minutes trying to talk to me and touch me. I lied and got on a random bus saying it was mine to get away from him. But not all guys are like that.
Walking home at night was apparently an invitation for some guy to try and rape me. I have no idea how I managed to escape unharmed – my brain blanked after he punched me in the face to stop me screaming for him to get off me. But not all guys are like that.
I’ve had so many guys get so offended when I say that I’m wary of men I don’t know, even men I do know but not very well. Not all guys are like that, they’ll say. Some, most, are nice and respectful, some are even feminists.
Not all guys are like that, I’m sure. But experience has shown that enough of them are, and that it’s simply not worth the risk. So I’m wary of men when I first meet them. Maybe for months after. It’s not intended to be an insult, but it is easier and safer for me to assume that the men I meet are sketchy and potential abusers/rapists and then be pleasantly proved wrong, than the other way around. Self preservation comes before making (or keeping) friends.
Not all guys are like that. But society doesn’t teach not to rape, not to grope, not to follow women, to understand ‘no’ as a complete sentence even if you’re in a relationship. So even the ‘nice’ guys, the guys who ‘aren’t like that’, are often exactly like that. They just don’t necessarily realise it. Many self-professed ‘not like that’ guys are utterly unaware how they make some women uncomfortable. Others are unaware that they’re rapists. Others still don’t call out their friends’ behaviour when their friends are ‘like that’.
My experiences are not unique, nor are the examples above the full extent of my experiences. They’re not even the worst that I’ve heard. I have yet to meet a woman who hasn’t experienced some sort of sexual harassment or assault, who have never felt intimidated by men they don’t know, or men they get a ‘vibe’ off. So the supposed fact that ‘not all guys are like that’ is totally irrelevant. Enough are like that, to the extent that I feel, and am, unsafe when I’m around men, even around men I know and trust.That isn’t something I or other women should apologise to men for. It’s something that men should apologise to us for.