Schrödinger’s Rapist: or a guy’s guide to approaching strange women without being maced

Schrödinger’s Rapist: or a guy’s guide to approaching strange women...

by Sweet Machine
Phaedra Starling is the pen name of a romance novelist and licensed private investigator living in small New York City apartment with two large dogs. She practices Brazilian jiu-jitsu and makes world-class apricot muffins

"Gentlemen. Thank you for reading.

Let me start out by assuring you that I understand you are a good sort of person. You are kind to children and animals. You respect the elderly. You donate to charity. You tell jokes without laughing at your own punchlines. You respect women. You like women. In fact, you would really like to have a mutually respectful and loving sexual relationship with a woman. Unfortunately, you don’t yet know that woman—she isn’t working with you, nor have you been introduced through mutual friends or drawn to the same activities. So you must look further afield to encounter her.

So far, so good. Miss LonelyHearts, your humble instructor, approves. Human connection, love, romance: there is nothing wrong with these yearnings.

Now, you want to become acquainted with a woman you see in public. The first thing you need to understand is that women are dealing with a set of challenges and concerns that are strange to you, a man. To begin with, we would rather not be killed or otherwise violently assaulted.

“But wait! I don’t want that, either!”

Well, no. But do you think about it all the time? Is preventing violent assault or murder part of your daily routine, rather than merely something you do when you venture into war zones? Because, for women, it is. When I go on a date, I always leave the man’s full name and contact information written next to my computer monitor. This is so the cops can find my body if I go missing. My best friend will call or e-mail me the next morning, and I must answer that call or e-mail before noon-ish, or she begins to worry. If she doesn’t hear from me by three or so, she’ll call the police. My activities after dark are curtailed. Unless I am in a densely-occupied, well-lit space, I won’t go out alone. Even then, I prefer to have a friend or two, or my dogs, with me. Do you follow rules like these?

So when you, a stranger, approach me, I have to ask myself: Will this man rape me?"

Please read the rest on Kate Harding's blog.

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Replies to This Discussion

In ancient Athens, women simply weren't allowed (by men) to walk alone in the city's streets at night, and this tradition was perpetuated in many other big cities thru the Roman Empire to Europe until the end of the Renaissance at least. So if it is a prejudice, it is a collective one (instead of personal), and it is shared by both sexes.

There are still more than enough rape stories in our 'policed' Western world to make women's anxiety a legitimate concern. This 'change of behavior' is only a display of public-spiritedness. In the same manner, you probably wouldn't want to provoke anxiety by leaving your rifle pointed at another person during a hunting party.
It's always the women who have to not go out at night too. They should have kept the men from going out!
It is a lot less stressful to be out at night when people do this. Some men in my bus route walk at their own pace at the other side of the road and it also helps.
Great post. This reminded me of the Rape Prevention Tips for Men which I saw on a beautiful pink blog once that I can't find anymore *sadface*. But this is the same thing, if you scroll down to the numbered bit.

*edit* should have scrolled through the discussions first; this has already been posted :)
Your link makes it easier for people, they don't have to go outside this discussion for it.
Okay...I have a story for you.

About 2 years ago I was living in an apartment in Corona, CA with my two kids (then 5 and 3). It was 10:30pm on a Tues night in May. The weather was warm in the day and cool at night, so I removed the safety bar and cracked open my sliding glass door a few inches but had the blinds closed. Most of my neighbors were running their loud ACs. The kids were asleep and I was doing some work on my computer.

A man in a mask with a gun game straight in through my sliding glass door. He just pulled it open, looked around, saw me and in just a few strides was right next to me. He told me if I didn't do what he said he'd kill my kids. He was a white guy, very tall and muscular, bright blue eyes that stood out behind his ski mask. He looked like a very clean cut, normal guy.

He told me to get up and he walked me over to the couch at gun point. I still didn't know what he wanted at first, I thought it was my kids he wanted. This moment of walking to the couch is very surreal and the memory is in slow motion. I remember having two thoughts, once we passed the hallway that led to my kid's bedroom I felt very relieved, he didn't want them. And I kept looking at his gun, it looked fake. It looked like a toy spray painted black. It was very idiotic to me, absurd.

In that moment, I knew that he wanted to rape me and I knew that there was no way he was going to do anything to me with a fake gun. I instantly went from being scared to being pissed. At this point I was running on pure instinct and I knew that I would fight this guy.

He told me to sit down and take of my shirt. I told him "No!" and tried to knock the gun out of his hand and push him away, it was like pushing against a block wall, he was so strong. He dropped kicked me in the chest and I went down hard. I was trying to catch my breath and think of what I could do. I knew that if I took of my shirt, then he would win, and he wasn't going to win with a fake gun.

The whole time I was trying to get my breath, he kept yelling at me, "Take off your shirt, do what I say, I will kill you if you dont. I'll shoot you right now. Listen to me. Do what I say you bitch." I was so mad. Finally I yelled back. "Go ahead and shoot me asshole, your gun is fake anyway!" Then he started hitting me, over and over, on my head, I blocked most of the blows with my arm. I started screaming, "No!" And the more he hit me the louder I got. "NOOO!" Finally something spooked him and he ran off and as he ran I got up and ran after him, screaming at him. "If you ever come back here I'll kick your ass you sob, pos, excuse for a man!!" I really can't believe all that stuff came out of my mouth. But he ran off, I locked up my apartment, called 911 and FREAKED OUT!!!

The Corona Police Dept was awesome, they were there in 1 minute! They brought scent dogs, helicopters, they watched over my kids while I told them what happened, they even brought in a Special Victims Unit, they finger printed my whole place, but didn't find anything.He got away and they never caught him. I dont know 100% if his gun was fake, but it was what prompted me to fight. I went and stayed with my sister that night. The next day I got a phone call from the FBI, they wanted to meet with me. WTF?? Dont tell me I just fought off a serial rapist. And Yes, I did!! This man had been at large for 10 yrs. After me, he attacked 2 more women.

I always took precautions for my safety. I installed a chain on my door, I got sticks to put in my windows, I kept everything locked up tight. But it still happened. I never had a plan of what to do if something like this happened. The FBI said that he had watched us for a long time, learning our pattern, what time I came home from work, when the kids went to bed, and that scared me. He picked a night where my neighbors had their ACs on as a sound barrier. He knew I was a single woman, but this was his first attempt on a single mom (his mistake!). He was trying to knock me out, I dont know what he would have done if he did.

I've replayed that night over and over and over in my head and although I wish he would have been caught, if it had to happen, I wouldn't change much about it. If he had a knife, I dont know what would have happened. I am proud of myself for fighting and I never knew that I would until I was faced with it. I knew I had a big mouth and a hard head for a reason!! It would have never happened if I had a dog. That little change would have made the difference. I was very religious at this time in my life, I blessed my house with Holy Water (Catholic) every night, and I put crosses over every door way and window as "protection". This really was my initial "Ah-ha" atheist moment that prompted me to question everything. Was God really that blind? Or does he just not exist?

The 2 years after that was absolute hell. The kids and I bounced around from place to place. I was too scared to live on my own, I thought he would come back and find me with a real gun and finish the job, but we really didn't have anywhere to go. The kids even lived with their dad for a while because I couldn't take care of them. I lost my job, I was evicted from another apartment. It was awful, a nightmare. The worst thing I've ever been through. And it was proof enough to me that I was on my own. And with that realization, I found a strength and freedom and I was healed of the nightmares and hauntings of that night.

Everyone kept saying, "God allowed this to happen for a reason. You might not know the reason now, but you will." LOL! I still dont know the reason.

So, fight if you can. Lock your windows and doors. Get a little yappy dog. Scream your head off. Vary your patterns and routines. Be aware of your surroundings. But most of all, trust your instincts.
I know!  I hate it when people say those things!  Not just because it's totally devaluing the experience, but because it leads people into inaction of fighting back, and fighting this rape culture.
Damn, your experience is honestly one of my worst nightmares, you are a very brave person (and seriously kick ass). I'm really glad that the authorities acted so swiftly and thoroughly.
And honestly any person that says that something as horrible (with not only you but the life of your kiddos on the line) deserves a swift smack to the head.
I'm glad to hear you weren't raped, and survived.

You having to bounce around from place to place afterwards, while having PTSD, sounds dreadful. Those "God has a plan" statements could only have added insult to injury.

I'll have to pass on the little yappy dog, but the rest sounds about right. I'm looking into getting a gun.
The dog may be a better option, especially a big friendly dog like I have who greets everyone at the door with lots of loud scary barking. She really is a sweetie.

Statistics on a gun in the home from the Brady Campaign:
I hope I'm as cool as you are when I grow up. :D
Ursula, I think you are my new hero.  I am so sorry that you were physically assaulted and all the trauma that came from it.  I give you mad props for fighting back!  And for being lucid enough to know his gun was fake.  And to keep fighting even after he used violence.  That takes guts! 


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