Dear Cis Men,
If a young woman of your acquaintance describes street harassment to you, please keep in mind that it is categorically impossible for you to have any idea whatsoever what she felt like in that situation.
Whatever advice you want to give her about being strong and straightforward, or nicer and more understanding, is NOT HELPFUL.
Don’t add shame and second-guessing to her injury. Tell her you are sorry that someone did this to her and that men are not entitled to women’s time, bodies, or phone numbers. If you feel a desperate need to give someone advice rather than support, pull aside a young man and talk to him about listening to women and respecting our boundaries.
You’re fucking welcome,
PS if you are a woman who wants to reply to a story like this with “You should have. . . .” or “I would have. . . . ,” pretending that you have the perfect answer in every situation that gets you respect and autonomy and that you have never felt gut-churning fear and paralysis in that situation, you are a liar who feels powerful stepping on other women’s backs. Knock it the fuck off. Be a friend. Put the blame where it actually lies.
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