I have a small inkling of what it must be like to be a woman in a world of grabby entitled men, because of a near-miss I had on my bike last summer.
I was riding downhill on the west side of Manhattan, toward the Hudson River, which is one of my regular rides. A car weaves in and out of the bike lane in front of me and forces me to hit the brakes to avoid getting hit by him. This is a dangerous move, if you brake too hard you go over the handlebars. Not a good thing, it happened to me a couple of years ago and I was in bed for a week. Lots of blood.
But I didn't go down, and continued west till I came to a red light and I could see the car that cut me off waiting for the light. As I passed I tapped his window and said he cut me off, very loudly so he and everyone else could hear. This is the kind of loop-close you dream of. Usually the cars just speed away and you're left with all that anger and adrenaline in your blood and nothing to do with it.
So I pull up about four car lengths in front of him and wait for the light to change. I hear him getting out of the car, and I think oh shit what if he's a big guy, but I see he's not. He's a little creepy dude.
As he approaches, he pulls a familiar west coast passive-hostile line.
"Why all the aggression?"
Deep breath. I said firmly "Because you almost killed me."
"Oh I get it. I have all this metal around me, and your bumper is your skeleton, so I'm sorry I almost killed you." He gets back in the car and we're all okay.
But that isn't what happened.
He said "I want to give you a hug."
To which I thought, my god a hug is the absolute last thing I want from this piece of shit. I want him to implode and disappear from the face of the earth, or at least get back in his fucking car. But he comes and hugs me. What can I do? Strangle him? I'd go to jail. So I had to let this piece of shit do his thing. And the whole ride and the rest of the day I couldn't get this ugly feeling of having been invaded by something vile and corrupt.
And that was just an unwanted hug.
I don't want to even think what it would be like if it was more than that. And yes, I had the option at any time of snapping his neck, an option most women don't have.
So I have a small idea, a very small idea of how awful it can be.