I can't assign you mandatory reading. But if I could, this would be at the top of the list for this week.
There's an utterly brilliant piece on the subject - brilliant and disturbing - over at Scholars & Rogues, and the fact that the author felt it necessary to post it anonymously is perhaps just a bit more evidence of the point she's making.
Trigger warning. Lots and lots and lots of trigger warnings. This essay isn't easy to read in places. Here's a snip:
Every three minutes, a woman is raped. Every eighteen seconds, a woman is beaten. The number one cause of death to pregnant women is domestic partner violence (ponder that for a moment – how sick is that?). For men, the number one cause of death in the workplace is work-related accidents, while the number one cause of workplace death for women is when an abused woman tries to leave her abuser and he shows up at her workplace and kills her there. Studies find that men’s number one fear of women is that a woman will laugh at them, while women’s number one fear of men is that one will kill them.
A well-known male facilitator of equality in the workplace seminars always begins by asking his mix-gendered groups to please make a list of what they do in a typical day to stay safe and to write until the timer goes off. He reports that – always – the women immediately begin to scribble furiously, “park under a light,” “hold my keys in my hand so I can get into the car quickly,” and so on, and that they write right up until the timer goes off. The men, on the other hand, sit there looking bewildered. Next, the facilitator asks people to call out their items so he can list them on the board and the women call out many, many items. Afterwards, the men report being shocked – they really don’t know women’s reality, what it is like to fear for your safety all of the time, to constantly be making a safety plan in your head.