When people say they have a ‘neutral’ political stance, what that usually means is that they’ve adopted a centrist position within their particular political environment. It’s a kind of local neutrality, perhaps, but not a true global neutrality; a position between two, more extreme camps, not an absence of position. People who believe they have no political ideology are in fact so fully immersed in their ideological environment that they don’t even realise it’s there - the defining features of their political views seem so obvious to them that they assume they are some kind of natural standard. To reiterate: There are no natural standards.
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These are forms of male aggression that only women see. But even when men are afforded a front seat to harassment, they don’t always have the correct vantage point for recognizing the subtlety of its operation. Four years before the murders, I was sitting in a bar in Washington, D.C. with a male friend. Another young woman was alone at the bar when an older man scooted next to her. He was aggressive, wasted, and sitting too close, but she smiled curtly at his ramblings and laughed softly at his jokes as she patiently downed her drink. ‘Why is she humoring him?’ my friend asked me. ‘You would never do that.’ I was too embarrassed to say: ‘Because he looks scary’ and ‘I do it all the time.’
Women who have experienced this can recognize that placating these men is a rational choice, a form of self-defense to protect against setting off an aggressor. But to male bystanders, it often looks like a warm welcome, and that helps to shift blame in the public eye from the harasser and onto his target, who’s failed to respond with the type of masculine bravado that men more easily recognize.