Things men have been doing since Weinstein

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I’m terrifying, aren’t I? Twenty one, wide eyed and disgustingly feminine. Write me a horror movie, baby.

Since Weinstein, or rather, Weinstein having to ‘fess up to being a creepy bastard, I’ve noticed a massive change in how my male friends and seniors have been treating me.

Some of it has been positive. A male friend got in touch to apologise for being a bit touchy feely. I needed to hear that so I was very impressed by the fact he did so with zero prompting. Similarly, a couple of directors reached out and said they were horrified by what had happened and not to stand for it. Bravo, comrades. Step in the right direction and all that.

That’s all pretty rad. What I have noticed though is the lingering terror my isolated presence causes my male lecturers, friends and superiors.

In a discussion on cognitive conceptions of pain, a male lecturer very consciously left his office door open. In my entire education, no professor or lecturer has ever done that. Was it for my safety, or his, in that if I said he was creepy, his four neighbours could have attested otherwise? The power I suddenly had filled me with unease. A senior doctor in psychiatry should be able to chat to a mouthy 3rd year in his office without feeling threatened.

Similarly, a male friend apologised for very accidentally brushing against my thigh as we hugged. Only he looked absolutely terrified. He stood there trembling and apologised about four times. I felt threatening and dangerous. It felt weird. I don’t want people to feel they can’t interact with me in case I report them to university.

Then there is the way my older male friends now treat me. You’d seriously think I took any male over 30 behind a bush and smacked him with an axe. They used to happily chat with me over career options and politics, but now they avoid the hell out of me, overnight. Subtly cancelling or having to attend rather dubious meetings at weird times. I know why. Frequently talking to an ambitious, naive twenty something year old girl? You must be manipulating me, or forcing your hand up my skirt while chatting about Ed Miliband. Because if anyone gets suspicious about why you are talking to me, or even worse, if I fib to The Sun, you are finished.

This is deeply unfair. If you behave properly, as many lecturers, producers and male friends seem capable of, you do NOT need to be scared of me or any young woman. Sacrificing your friendship, advice or teachings because you fear unjust repercussions is silly and offensive. Of course I won’t report something that never happened. Of course I won’t sell your story to the press. Of course I’m not going to tell the university authorities that your hand brushed against my thigh as you hugged me in an obvious accident.

If you want to be ‘safe' from accusations, just don’t grope women. It doesn’t mean you have to cut them out of your life. Most of us would never dream of making a false report. You don’t need to worry.

Want to help? Talk to your mates who are actually a threat to women. Tell your female friends when a guy is dangerous. But don’t make us the monsters.

The rapists, gropers and harassers are.

Anthropologist with an awful lot to say about everything. Opinions entirely my own. Usually. madelaine@madelainehanson.co.uk

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