When I Quit Cutting My Hair, I Learned How Men Treat Women On American Roads

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When I Quit Cutting My Hair, I Learned How Men Treat Women On American Roads

#1

Post by Saria Dragon of the Rain Wilds » Mon Feb 01, 2016 12:20 am

http://www.roadandtrack.com/car-culture ... can-roads/
The fifty-something man in the aging Lexus SUV was red-faced from screaming as he pulled up next to my motorcycle and lowered his passenger window. I caught fragments of every nasty word I'd ever heard my Catholic-school classmates whisper to each other during recess. Then he slowed the torrent of abuse long enough to enunciate the next sentence clearly: "Bitch, I am going to get out of this car and beat you until you can't stand up."

"Alright," I said, removing my flower-covered Arai "Oriental" helmet with its mirrored visor and shaking out my hair, "let's get this started. I have to be at work in ten minutes." His mouth froze, and he floored the accelerator, nearly striking a pedestrian as he squealed around the corner. Apparently the guy thought I was a woman. I'd like to tell you that I was surprised, but I wasn't—because this, or something like this, has happened to me nearly a dozen times in the past few years. Allow me to to explain.

Around my 33rd birthday and after reading Robert Bly's outstanding book, Iron John, for the third or fourth time, I decided to end my decades-long habit, acquired in my teenage years as a BMX racer, of using a quarter-inch clipper on my hair once a month. For a while I kept it above my collar, but in 2012, when I got a job where they didn't expect me to "look corporate," I let it grow without restraint. It's now down past my shoulders in true Allman Brothers, or at least Foo Fighters, fashion.

Strictly speaking, this shouldn't be enough to let anybody mistake me for a woman. I'm six-foot-two, 240 pounds, and have a full beard. Even if you walk up behind me, I'm pretty broad-shouldered, and I stand up straight, which is something none of the taller women I've ever dated can bring themselves to do. But there are two things that apparently confuse people. First is my motorcycle helmet. It has flowers and koi fish and the "Great Wave" graphic on it. I think it's neat, and so does my YZF-riding girlfriend, who wears a plain silver Arai herself. The second thing is that I have a couple of cars—an Accord coupe and a Boxster S—that tend to be preferred by women.

As a consequence, over the past few years, I've been involved in several incidents where male drivers decided to threaten me or shout abuse at me right up to the moment that they realized that they were dealing with someone who, from the front, resembles the Geico caveman more than any lady on this planet.

The usual scenario goes something like this: I do something to upset another driver, like squeezing in front of them on the freeway (in my car) or lane-splitting past them in traffic (on my motorcycle). They can only see the back of my head, so they assume that some woman has gotten the better of them somehow. This leads to them breaking the laws of traffic, sanity, and sometimes even physics to get up next to me, blaring their horn and shouting. I then either look over at them (in my car) or remove my helmet (on my bike). At that point, they immediately stop what they were doing and either drive off or commence to looking straight ahead like nothing's happened.

In the case of my friend in the Lexus, I'd slipped my VFR800 past him as he sat in a line of cars waiting to enter a parking garage. I was actually going to park at the meters past said garage, and there was a two-foot gap between his SUV and the curb for me to exploit. This was an insult to his manhood that he could not permit, so he decided to chase me down and kick my ass . . . again, until he realized that I wasn't a woman.

Two days ago, I performed an otherwise ordinary "zipper" merge onto a crowded freeway in front of a Prius C that was trying to stay directly behind the car in front of him in his lane. I might have forced the issue a bit, but I was making a legal move, no doubt about it. He started flashing his lights and honking. Then he swerved onto the shoulder and pulled up next to me, waving his fist. I looked at him. He hit his brakes and came to a halt on the shoulder before pulling back into the lane twenty cars or so back.

Image

It took me a while to figure out what was going on. I'm not a particularly scary-looking dude, and aside from a bit of martial-arts sparring across various disciplines in years gone by, I'm not anything close to a brawler or a would-be tough guy. In fact, my decision to grow my hair out was a direct consequence of a decision I made to try being a friendlier and less confrontational person in my late 30s and early 40s. That, and I wanted to make my friends who were going bald just a bit jealous.

So it doesn't make any sense that people would want to fight me until they see my face. It isn't like I'm Danny Trejo. I'm told I have very friendly blue eyes and dimples. It was my six-year-old son, of all people, who clued me in to the problem. "Dad, not to make fun of you," he said, clearly intending to make fun of me, "but you look like a girl. A really big girl. Until I see your face."

Which made me think about an incident from before I started growing my hair. I was the third car in line to leave my office parking lot and enter the main road. The first car in line wasn't pulling out despite having several opportunities. I laid on my horn. The guy driving that first car got out, walked back to the second car, which had a rather frightened young woman behind the wheel, and started beating on her driver's-side window.

At that point, I got out and explained, as politely as I could, that I was the horn blower, not the lady in the car between us, and that I really needed him to return to his car and pull into traffic so that we could all go home. It was before I had myIron John-related spiritual awakening, so I was kind of forthright about it. He got into his car and did what I asked. That night, I lay awake thinking about what it must be like to be the kind of person who will threaten a woman in traffic but meekly acquiesce to what another man tells you to do. Uncool doesn't begin to cover it.

Putting my son's statement and my memory of that old incident together made everything clear: There are some men out there who, given the chance, will take a traffic incident as an excuse to harass and threaten women. Listen, I'm not what they call a "social justice warrior" searching for wrongdoings, but the evidence of my own eyes—and hair—is too strong to refute. As a woman on the American road, you really are at more risk of road rage or abuse from your fellow motorists than you would be if you were a man.

When I tell these stories to my friends and fellow motorcyclists, they always say, "Dude, just go get a helmet that isn't so, you know, girly." But I like my helmet, regardless of what other people think. And I also like my long hair, and my Honda coupe. I'm not going to change any of these things just to avoid the occasional run-in with some misogynistic douchebag. In fact, I'd like to think that every one of these incidents offers the other person involved a chance to change their behavior in the future, and to treat female motorists with respect and consideration.

A few weeks ago, I was an auto auction and I saw a Yamaha R1 on the block that had been painted bright pink. I sent a photo to my girlfriend, and she laughed in response (her YZR is blue and silver), but I considered buying it for myself. Why not? If I rode it around for a few years, I'm sure I'd have countless opportunities to surprise cowards who think it's OK to harass female drivers just because they're women. Pathetic.
Nonsense, I have not yet begun to defile myself.

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#2

Post by LOOT » Mon Feb 01, 2016 1:09 am

my hair's shoulder length right now and I tend to shave whenever possible, so i've been taking a bit more feminine face day by day

my coworkers seem to be treating me a little more like woman every day despite them not knowing I'm trans and it's a bit... disturbing

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#3

Post by Bad Dragonite » Mon Feb 01, 2016 7:06 am

^I'm glad you brought that up.
Okay I went and looked at some pictures of this guy in full gear as he described and I gotta be honest, there's no mistaking that for a woman.
All this is is a guy purposely pissing people off on the road, then I get the feeling what happens is they see the helmet and the hair and assume he's a pansy (for lack of a better term) and think they can bully him, he takes the helmet off and confronts them (and has a beard which subconsciously is a trigger of high masculinity, much like loot being treated more like a female after growing her hair) and they back off. It seems just as plausible, especially since again he really doesn't appear to be a female in gear. It'd prolly be more likely they'd bully him cause they think he's gay or something (not saying all gay guys are effeminate, but that's the stereotype) than because they think he's a woman. And on the one time he talks about a guy knocking on the woman's window first can be explained away by three factors, 1 the guy probably just heard a horn behind him and didnt know which it was, 2 we dont know how powerful the horn on the bike is, it couldve been loud enough that it sounded like it was right behind him, the guy was most likely angry or frustrated for god knows what that happened earlier, for all we know he lost a loved one or something and is at a breaking point that day, we don't know. Even if not anger from constant annoyance on the road clouds judgement anyway.
All of that said, this writer comes off as a highway troll, just trying to piss people off on the road to get a reaction. When you do that you can tie it to any cause. Especially since there's basically no evidence to support the idea that the reason given is why it's happening. It doesn't excuse road rage on their part, but if someone is intentionally trying to mess with you on the highway after a long day you'd prolly get fuming mad at the least. It's a shaky argument at best and is pretty much just opinion based.
Here's my biggest problem with this though; he's obviously trying to paint a picture and feed the reader a narrative to sell more clicks basically. He doesn't say all of his times harassing people (albeit legally harassing them) have the same results (which we all know negative results would be there, a majority of people wouldn't do that anyway, since, believe it or not most people are level headed and have some patience) but instead just says "all men treat women badly on the road cause I may look like a woman to them" while specifically targeting men, instead of just "some people can be ******* on the road. Especially if you antagonize them. " Hell, I bet he'd prolly get similar reactions if he tried pissing off women, but that wouldn't fit his narrative would it? Think that's just an opinion? It is which means it's as valid as the article. No this is incredible propaganda based on using opinions for a political message written just because it's a hot topic that sells well, and it deserves no more attention than it has already...
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#4

Post by Deepfake » Mon Feb 01, 2016 8:27 am

That is some hilarious skepticism, and from the usual corner I'm unsurprised to note. He didn't describe harrassing anyone, he described normal road behavior. You're also ignoring that at least one of the assailants used a gendered insult.

I would say that if they had the impression he was a woman, it may be jarring enough to be forced to reconsider their situation that they actually take notice of their behavior, which is inappropriate in any situation and obviously road rage. People should not respond this way to such common situations.

Anyway, I've had people scream abuse at me for having pink hair, etc. The **** that lunatics will use to abuse you is generally whatever reminds them that they want to, and then they're off and racing as long as they perceive that they are in power.
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#5

Post by Bad Dragonite » Mon Feb 01, 2016 8:40 am

If you mean, "bitch," then tbh I don't think it's all that gendered anymore, maybe it's just my experiences, but I've seen just as many males called bitches as females (in fact many more, heck it's a common term to call men in alot of circles I've been in and around), especially when they're seen as less masculine, even more especially at first glance.

And I agree, people shouldn't act that way in these sorts of situations.

As far as it being from the, "usual corner" I'm just calling this article like I see it. It's not based on actual experiments or statistics but tries to paint a picture as "all men are like this because I think this might've been the reason some random jerks got mad at some point" It's not even a completely justified opinion that he's basing it on. Unless he can read minds.
When I had long hair it didn't give those abilities idk about him though.

I know right? And they are lunatics as you say, they are not the norm.
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#6

Post by Deepfake » Mon Feb 01, 2016 9:03 am

Vgfian, post: 1584459, member: 32425 wrote:If you mean, "bitch," then tbh I don't think it's all that gendered anymore, maybe it's just my experiences, but I've seen just as many males called bitches as females (in fact many more, heck it's a common term to call men in alot of circles I've been in and around), especially when they're seen as less masculine, even more especially at first glance.
Yeah, in a big way that's veiled sexism but I get your point. While we can't verify, the context does tend to lend itself to its gendered use.


...but tries to paint a picture as "all men are like this because I think this might've been the reason some random jerks got mad at some point"
Okay, I didn't get that message although I have plenty of experience seeing people express sexism towards men in that form as well. It isn't the same kind of issue as the results of that brand of sexism are not the same, although it does exist. I'm not seeing that happening here, and it's irrational to think he'd say that about 'all men' as the author clearly is not that kind of person, yet obviously is stated as male.

I have seen people make aggressive actions on the road. They tend to deflate at being shown they are not in an unquestioned position of power, and realise that there are greater consequences that simply being seen as superior. One such person actually illegally drove around my friend's vehicle after being brake-checked for tailgating, stopped in the middle of the road in front of us, and got out of his vehicle. Then all 3 of us got out of ours. Then he realised he was in danger and he got into his car and drove away, just as likely having soiled himself.

My point being that it is not necessarily because 'they are women' that some will behave this way. It can be causally related, as they very likely perceive women as inferior, as someone to have power over. Whether or not that applies in his situation is not actually relevant, because it actually is a simple fact of things like wage inequality. People treat women as inferior, and the psychotic ones actually feel safe targeting them because of that. I respect that we cannot actually know with certainty the cause of others' behavior, what they would have done different had it been apparent to them that he was not female, etc. It is entirely anecdotal, and is not damning evidence on its own. It does suggest what I have found to be an accurate image of why women are more frequently victims of the psychotic. It is okay to exercise scrutiny, but the kernel of truth is more valuable in this case and it is worthwhile to be provided that opportunity to consider.
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#7

Post by Bad Dragonite » Mon Feb 01, 2016 9:39 am

I don't know if I'd even say that he's that type of person, just I'm almost certain he wrote this just for clicks (simply because it is a controversial, high selling topic).

I don't want to get off topic much, and I don't know the statistics internationally, but the wage gap just doesn't exist here. There's an overall income
gap which is a whole other thing entirely, and it's caused by society's choices (Less women going into stem field, women putting family over work, men doing more professional/laborious/dangerous/time consuming yet higher paying jobs in general ((managerial work, Lumberjacking, mining,)), etc) in a society where it is quite possible to do so, it's not any kind of oppression unless you want to call it womanly self-oppression, which is an extreme name since it's all based on choice. It's already illegal to pay a woman less for the same work as a man because she's a woman. If it wasn't, most corporations would try to hire more women for cheaper labor. If a woman is being paid less without any cause other than gender then she needs to take legal action. Here's "Everything you need to know on the pay gap" and explains how it has shrank and is shrinking, but as women age they tend to drop in pay usually due to familial responsibility.
http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/20 ... r-pay-gap/






I think we can agree on this, it is possible women are seen as less threatening and therefore are targeted more by the occasional violent crazy/super stressed person to take out their problems on.
That said he doesn't look like a woman in gear [SPOILER="pic"] Image [/SPOILER], if anything he looks like a bulky gender neutral (though I'd say more masculine due to the shoulders and posture).
What I don't like is perpetuating the idea using broad wording that men do this psycho stuff to women and therefore all men are psychos ("I Learned How Men Treat Women" You cant say isn't extremely broad), just to sell some reads. and I'm offended at it being said (in the article) as if it's just fact rather than a guy giving his opinions on things he's personally experienced using only his perspective. The title itself is the story for alot of people and gives a clear image the writer wants to paint, even if he doesn't believe it and it's just for clicks it's still perpetuating an idea that's wrong and just causes more divisiveness among people to get more clicks.

It bothers me also when I know people will believe it is absolute fact that men treat women this way on roads and that's just how it is, because that's the mindset so many have locked themselves into. (Not talking about anyone here, just people I've run into in general life)

I'm not even all that angry or anything about the whole thing, it just makes me sort of sigh is all.
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#8

Post by Deepfake » Mon Feb 01, 2016 10:33 am

Okay, nevermind, no point in talking to you.
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#9

Post by CaptHayfever » Mon Feb 01, 2016 2:18 pm

I don't know all the terminology, but I think he's describing squeezing between lanes & crud in some of the anecdotes? I'd wanna smack a rider who nearly sideswiped me doing that regardless of how badly they'd beat me up afterwards.

And remember, "I'm-a Luigi, number one!"

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#10

Post by I am nobody » Mon Feb 01, 2016 3:37 pm

No one I know has ever had any experiences like this, and I've lived in three different parts of the country, two of which have ridiculously aggressive drivers, and one of which has terrible drivers. Unless they've all been very lucky, saying this is a problem with "men" on "American" roads seems unreasonably broad. It's either a regional problem or something that this guy's manner of driving specifically triggers.

None of which changes the fact that the men in question are disgusting ****heads, but overstating a problem just leads to everyone getting defensive about it.

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#11

Post by I REALLY HATE POKEMON! » Mon Feb 01, 2016 4:04 pm

[QUOTE="Hell Orb, post: 1584455, member: 25415"]You're also ignoring that at least one of the assailants used a gendered insult.[/QUOTE]

That doesn't in any way indicate that they thought he was a she. Men call each other "gendered insults" quite often as it's actually a pretty good way to anger someone.

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#12

Post by CaptHayfever » Mon Feb 01, 2016 4:30 pm

^I mean, nobody likes being called something they're not, but unless that something is unquestionably negative ("idiot", "bigot", "douchebag", et cet), it shouldn't be used as an insult.

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#13

Post by LOOT » Mon Feb 01, 2016 4:50 pm

when the most scathing insult to a man is to call him a woman #fragilemasculinity

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#14

Post by Bad Dragonite » Mon Feb 01, 2016 5:31 pm

well no it's not to call him a woman. For some reason, I can't ponder why, calling a man a bitch is just basically calling him a wimp who may or may not complain alot and overall is just a pushover who will "take it" whatever "it" is. But calling a woman a bitch is to describe her as strong willed and nagging, or possibly more masculine. It's not the original meaning obviously but just something that's apparently a thing now.
That's foe individuals, now for a group you can say for example "them bitches" and "my bitches " bit personally that seems like a derogatory or at the least bad term to use and at the very least is disrespectful. I can say though I've heard women call men their bitches and I'm sure it can work through different orientations as well. At least it wouldn't phase me anyway. *shrug*

That said it's kindof interesting you consider "bitch" and "woman" synonymous.
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#15

Post by CaptHayfever » Mon Feb 01, 2016 5:34 pm

^It's literally a female term. They're not synonymous, but the former does imply the latter, even though the latter absolutely does NOT imply the former.

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#16

Post by I REALLY HATE POKEMON! » Mon Feb 01, 2016 5:36 pm

[QUOTE="CaptHayfever, post: 1584491, member: 25169"]^I mean, nobody likes being called something they're not, but unless that something is unquestionably negative ("idiot", "bigot", "douchebag", et cet), it shouldn't be used as an insult.

And remember, "I'm-a Luigi, number one!"[/QUOTE]

Intent is more important than the words chosen. "Bud," "pal," "kid," there's plenty of non-insults which can be used to demean others. Tone takes a critical role. Insult is intent and not just words.

[QUOTE="LOOT, post: 1584495, member: 21459"]when the most scathing insult to a man is to call him a woman #fragilemasculinity[/QUOTE]

Actually, there are worse insults.

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#17

Post by Bad Dragonite » Mon Feb 01, 2016 5:40 pm

[QUOTE="CaptHayfever, post: 1584503, member: 25169"]^It's literally a female term. They're not synonymous, but the former does imply the latter, even though the latter absolutely does NOT imply the former.

And remember, "I'm-a Luigi, number one!"[/QUOTE]
well yeah I suppose technically though it seems like it isn't because so many people use it for both genders sooo. **** it. *shrug* :/
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