I think that’s well said. I too used to go to movies, revivals mainly, by myself because my wife wasn’t as interested in classic film. It struck me how infrequently I encountered solo women in these theaters.
Then of course there’s simply being out in the streets at night. Yes, that can be scary for anyone, depending. One night, for example, I was walking home along Vine St in Hollywood. Construction was under way, & the sidewalk had become one of those wooden mazes they make for pedestrians. As I turned one way, I nearly ran into a young women. Neither of us had seen the other coming. To give her credit, she didn’t appear startled, but she turned her head & called “Catch up with me later!” to a young man standing about 50 feet away on a side street.
We passed one another without further ado. Something about the tone of her voice, however, suggested to me she didn’t know that other pedestrian at all. As I passed abreast of him, I stopped & asked. “No,” he said. “He didn’t know her at all.”
Okay, so a tactic to suggest you’re not alone. Not bad. But poorly executed. I’ve worked many night shifts, driven a cab, been out a lot at night, in short. When I see a woman walking along on the street, I never assume she’s helpless. Who knows? She might be undercover PD. She might be carrying a firearm (more common in LA, where it’s a misdemeanor, not a felony like NYC), or some other weapon. This young woman inadvertently told me she had none of these. I felt bad for her.
Of course, when she’s walking alone at night & sees a cop, she can feel glad & safe. Were she a young Black man she might not feel that way. Privilege works in different ways.
Cutting to the chase, however, I don’t apologize for mine. I treasure it. I’m also willing to share it, by voting for leaders who will do away with stop & frisk policies, or by not bothering women who fly solo in movie theaters or restaurants. Get behind a woman walking on the street at night? Be considerate & cross the street.
I’m no enlightened man, & so far from woke that I snore in the daytime. But I do get the fear. During the LA Riots I made a juicy target. Got the shit kicked out of me & my gear (freelance photojournalist) stolen. With aching slowness I worked to replace it. A few months later I’m shooting spots by Downtown LA, in demolished block north of Bunker Hill. I get deeper into the zone, when suddenly these young guys jumped over a low retaining wall, right into rubble-strewn foundation where I was. My heart stopped.
It fucking stopped…
Here we go again, I thought.
There were maybe five of them. Ignoring me altogether, they went about their business, having clearly used the demolished foundation as a shortcut. Took me ten minutes to catch my breath.
So I do get the fear. More than anything I wish it wasn’t there. But it only takes a few shitheads to spoil someone’s night. We can fight toxic masculinity (whatever that is) but junkies still need dope, sociopaths will prey & career criminals continue to offend.
Don’t know what the answer is here….