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Movements like #MeToo shine a light into survivors’ experiences with sexual harassment and assault, but some women stress that misogyny and male entitlement affect women every single day. Now, a Twitter thread is going viral for showing how men regularly scare, trigger, and traumatize women by acting in ways that can make women feel threatened.
On Sunday, Twitter user tragedythyme discussed her experience with a creepy man who sexually harassed her when he offered to buy her dryer. In the thread, tragedythyme explains how the buyer arrived at her house after her husband left for work, even though she told him to show up earlier, and begged her to help him carry the dryer up from the basement. While making her help lift the heavy device, he started sexually harassing her, leaving tragedythyme feeling angry, scared, and trapped.
He later showed up again at 10pm while drunk, and she called the police for protection as a result.
“The point—other than my being pissed and wanting to tell people—is that events like this, even when we come out ok, take an emotional toll. I was scared,” tragedythyme tweeted. “So men, if you want to be allies, then recognizing that assault is bad is just the minimum. For every sexual assault, there are thousands of events that don’t lead to violence but which scare the shit out of us, especially after our ‘assessment’ turns out to have been wrong.”
A quick reminder for men: Common events for you can turn into really scary situations for women in a snap.— SaraSuze (@tragedythyme) October 7, 2018
Case in point: This week I listed a clothes dryer on the Letgo app. Because it was a dryer, a neutral meeting location was impractical. I needed it taken out of my house.
The next morning, buyer isn't here before husband leaves. I message and tell him not to come. He shows up 15 min later. In addition to being late, he has no dolly or help, despite the ad saying the dryer was in a basement & you'd have to remove yourself.— SaraSuze (@tragedythyme) October 7, 2018
I quickly try to assess my likelihood of danger, as every woman has done so, so many times. It's instinct. First, what's his age? Late 60s, early 70s. He's tall but thin. Wearing a wedding ring. Hasn't smiled at me strangely or looked at me for too long. I make a judgment call.— SaraSuze (@tragedythyme) October 7, 2018
Walk to the stairs is fine. We're sharing the work. With each stair, I'm feeling more and more of the weight. I'm sweating. Heaving. Pissed. Halfway up the stairs and it feels like he's doing NOTHING.— SaraSuze (@tragedythyme) October 7, 2018
And then I see it. The look on his face.
"Damn, girl. Look at you. Man, those thighs. Put em to work, huh? That sweat looks good on you. Workin thighs like that, I bet your husband is a happy man. C'mon, show me what you got." I was mortified. And I'm realizing I can't get out. He & a dryer I'm lifting are blocking me.— SaraSuze (@tragedythyme) October 7, 2018
And wanna guess what happened? He left without buying it. Was this guy going murder me? Probably not. But I'm not sure. Am I pissed I had to worry about being murdered in my own home because grandpa creeper likes sweaty women? Yeah. Fucker.— SaraSuze (@tragedythyme) October 7, 2018
Tragedythyme’s story rings true for many women because it shows how men’s behavior puts women on guard. When women are alone with men, it’s constantly unclear whether a man could lash out, act physically abusive, make demeaning comments, or commit sexual assault. And even when women try to protect themselves by putting up boundaries, some men won’t take them seriously and will pressure women into getting what they want.
Women across Twitter commented on tragedythyme’s thread and opened up about their own stories with men’s threatening behavior.
This is super important.— Sarah Spain (@SarahSpain) October 8, 2018
This makes it hard for me to have a repair man over when I’m alone. This makes me request female masseuses. This makes me cross to the other side of the street if someone’s behind me & lie about someone else being home when something is delivered. https://t.co/DDweS6wWKE
I’ve been in situations like this, too. The worst was at Baltimore Comic-Con last year. And it all felt so safe at first. https://t.co/sxidLOZDjC— Magdaloween Visaggio (@MagsVisaggs) October 8, 2018
Since I’ve seen far too many people attacking this thread with “she’s lying”, or “#notallmen”, let’s clear this up.— Carolyn Velociraptor (@Arumi_kai) October 8, 2018
How many stories of women encountering gross/scary/stupid men will you have to hear before you understand why we’re afraid to walk down dark streets at night? https://t.co/9qpoezA5YM
"#notallmen!!1!"— Carolyn Velociraptor (@Arumi_kai) October 8, 2018
We're not stupid, we know *you in particular* may not be a creep. But after a lifetime of confronting creeps like the one described above - you have to understand that we NEED to be cautious. It's not about you. It's about us keeping ourselves safe.
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Tragedythyme isn’t the only Twitter user asking men to think about their sense of entitlement and privilege. In a viral Twitter thread from activist Danielle Muscato, women opened about what they would do if men had a 9pm curfew. Responses were oddly depressing, as many posters said they would have more time to spend at night without worrying about being sexually harassed or assaulted.
“A number of people really seemed genuinely shocked at the kinds of mental exhaustion women have to endure every day just navigating our lives, in ways that cis men simply can’t understand because it doesn’t exist in their world,” Muscato told the Daily Dot.
Ana Valens is a reporter specializing in online queer communities, marginalized identities, and adult content creation. She is Daily Dot's Trans/Sex columnist. Her work has appeared at Vice, Vox, Truthout, Bitch Media, Kill Screen, Rolling Stone, and the Toast. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, and spends her free time developing queer adult games.