The Chauvinist Was Okay — a short story

Posted on 2015 April 2

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“Oh … my … GAWD!!”

“What is it, honey?”

“This news article. I just can’t believe it.”

He walked over. She turned the laptop so he could see the screen. He bent down. “Okay … the headline says some lady ‘had a right to be in a park alone, Victoria police must apologize for saying she didn’t.’ Victoria?”

“Australia.”

He nodded. “So what happened?”

“The woman was murdered in a park there at dusk, and the homicide detective had the temerity to say that women should stay out of the park because it’s dangerous! The unmitigated gall!”

He frowned. “I don’t get it. If the park is dangerous, the cop’s gonna suggest that women avoid it—”

“How dare he! Women have a right to go where they want and not be told they’re not allowed. It’s basic civil liberties!”

He put up a hand. “Okay, hold it, cool your jets. Lemme read the whole thing.” He bent over the laptop, eyes scanning as he scrolled down the page.

He straightened. “Okay, the cop was warning women the place was dangerous. He said they should take precautions and walk together instead of alone. Sounds like he’s doing his job. I don’t see the problem.”

“The problem, my chauvinist boyfriend, is that you men have created this worldwide rape culture and use it to restrict where we can travel, and to imply that we cause men to rape us.”

“Wait a second! We didn’t create a— I didn’t create the guy who killed her! And nobody’s saying she caused herself to get killed. If the park’s dangerous to women, it’s completely proper to warn them. Anyway, the detective didn’t say, ‘Don’t use the park,’ he said, ‘Walk together.’ And what do you mean, chauvinist boyfr–” 

“If you don’t recognize your complicity in all this—”

“Complicity?!? Okay, look, sure, there’s chauvinism in the world. And there are bad men who prey on women. That doesn’t mean it’s wrong to try to protect women from danger.”

“See? There you go again, ‘protecting’ us from our own lives! It’s your guys’ mess and you’re making us pay for it by limiting our freedom.”

He paced for a moment. “Okay, let’s say there are lions on the other side of the hill, and I say, ‘Honey, don’t go there because there are lions,’ you’re gonna, what, get pissed and say, ‘How dare you tell me where I can go’? That’s crazy.”

“But it’s your rape culture! It’s men’s fault! And then you go and tell women we have to stay home because you men are so dangerous! It belittles us.”

“Wait, it doesn’t matter how it got started — if the park is dangerous for women, don’t the police at least have the duty to warn them?”

“They’re solving the problem by constraining our options! I won’t have it.”

“At least give them time to clean out the park.”

“That’s just an excuse! We won’t stand for this treatment anymore. We demand that you men make the world safe for us.”

“You sound like a kid who tells his parents, ‘I don’t have to come in at dark! I can go where I want! You’re keeping me down!’”

“Oh, so you’re saying I’m a child, is that it?”

“No.” He paused. “I’m saying you sound like a spoiled child.”

“That’s outrageous! That … that does it! I can’t live with a man who doesn’t understand. I’m sorry, but I think I better move out.”

He sat and stared at her.

“Okay.”

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