The estimated reading time for this post is 2 minutes.
I had dropped my kids off at a class and was running home to meet friends who were buying something from me. I had just turned into my neighborhood and was coming up on a cross street that has a yield sign (my side has right of way and no signs). As I started to cross into that intersection, a guy in an SUV came barreling through the intersection, ignoring his yield sign and, indeed, everything else as he was looking down at his phone. I, objecting to almost being hit, honk my horn at him as I slam my brakes.
So far, relatively normal interaction. Someone not paying attention while driving, another person notifying them via the only means available for cross-vehicle communication that they’re not paying attention. Life goes on, right?
Except that this time, as I watched in my rear view mirror, the driver slammed on his brakes, jumped out of his car, and started yelling down the street at me. I didn’t stop. Why would I? I kept driving and saw that the friends I was waiting on were at my house, so I pulled into my garage. As I stepped out of the car to access my trunk, I heard a motor roaring and saw that the guy was flying by my house, obviously trying to find me.
I don’t know if he noted that I was me and where I lived. I don’t know if he was so focused on the road that he didn’t pay attention to the houses, or if he noted but continued speeding on by since there were additional people in the driveway. I have no way of knowing exactly what was going through his head or what he noticed.
What I do know is that I was glad I had access to a gun that I was able to keep in the drawer in my bedside table. What I know is that I stayed awake half the night, waiting for that guy to show up at my house. What I know is that every time I drive by that intersection now, I look to the right to see if he is there in his SUV. What I know is that I am concerned to let my pre-teens be alone in the front yard in case this guy drives by and decides they look like easy targets.
I know that this is only one anecdote. But it’s one anecdote of millions about why women don’t say no to men, about why we’re afraid of the repercussions of voicing our objections, about the nature of potential repercussions when we do object.
And before you start, yes, I know not all men. I have a lot of men in my life who don’t react anything like this. But all it takes is that one man who reacts with rage when he’s faced with a “no” to make women nervous, to make us think twice about driving into our own neighborhoods, to make us question if we really did something wrong instead of him. And it’s not just this one man, but the ones who preceded him and who he has built upon. I don’t know any woman who hasn’t been confronted with some sort of scenario like this multiple times by the time she hits her thirties.
So even though it was just one man this time, he’s not the only one. And he probably won’t be the last.