You seem really motivated to believe that someone who was hurt deserved it. Why is it easier to believe that I was asking to be hurt than that someone blithely threw their weight around knowing it would harm me?

People walk up close to each other on train platforms all the time. I’m under no obligation to scurry completely to the other side of the crowd like a frightened mouse. You hold your ground if you’re walking faster than everyone else, and you lean a bit, stride slightly diagonally, or move your arms when you get close to someone coming from the other direction. It’s part of the social contract. This guy violated it, and then deliberately used additional force to knock me on the ground.

How awful that you would want to think I deserve that. And how nonsensical. If I was playing chicken with people I’d be knocked on my ass all the time. You should think really hard about why it is reassuring for you to imagine that I earned this scare. And you should also consider, really deeply, whether you want to live in a world organized and determined by men’s force. If I’m supposed to scurry out of the way every time a man is coming my way, what else do you expect me to give up? When am I allowed by your self-defeating logic to stand up for myself, to hold space, or say no?

We don’t live in the feudal era Melinda. The physical capacity to do harm is not our main means of organizing society. I was walking with the expectation of mutual egalitarian respect. I held space the way men walking down the street hold space — not to force anyone to move, but with the basic assumption that I have value and will be noticed, accommodated, and respected as long as I do the same for others.

If you don’t move through the world with that kind of expectation, if you think being a woman means you have a responsibility to bow and scurry and lean out and stay out of the way, I worry that you don’t get much of what you want out of life.

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