True story, real people. Three women. Same age – mid 30s. Same socioeconomic background and educational level. Living in the same town. Same bra size – E cup. The similarities stop there.
Woman no.1 is nearly 6′ tall and built like a brick outbuilding. She packs plenty of curves in her size 22 (US 20), but people’s first impressions of her tend to focus on the fact that she could carry a pig under each arm without struggling. She works from home. Although she has a very active life, she usually goes out with her husband and/or daughter, who are also built. When she’s out and about, she hardly ever gets any bother from guys – catcalling, unwanted advances, anything of the kind. She absolutely believes that’s because she’s oozing so much confidence that the creeps just don’t dare approach her.
Woman no.2 is also a size 22, but she’s barely 5′ tall. She never goes out unaccompanied; if she doesn’t have someone to go out with, she stays home. She never goes out after dark. She has never used public transport. She takes a pre-booked cab to her part-time job. When she’s out and about, she doesn’t bother from guys either. She absolutely believes that’s because by dressing “properly”, i.e. both conservatively and expensively, she shows the creeps that she just isn’t “that kind of woman”, so they don’t dare approach her.
Woman no.3 is also just about 5′ tall, but a size 6 (US 4). She leads a very active life, including a number of activities which she attends alone. She routinely uses public transport, walks, bikes, and jogs. While she’s out and about, she gets bothered all the damn time. Not only she can’t go to a bar or club without getting propositioned, but she gets bothered in pretty much any location: on public transport, in parks, at the shops, at work, at the gym, at the library, you name it. She routinely receives “advances” that are not only unwanted and unpleasant, but bordering on the criminal.
Woman no.1 is 100% convinced that her problem is that she lacks sufficient confidence. Woman no. 2 is 100% convinced that the problem is that she doesn’t look respectable enough. It has never crossed their mind that, as victims of sex pests, their risk-reward ratio are completely different.
Creeps might be assholes, but they are not usually suicidal. They generally know what they can get away with. Although confidence undoubtedly can help keep them at bay, they are also likely to take into consideration factors such as whether their prospective victim looks like she can punch through concrete. Although looking respectable may put some or even many of them off, being constantly chaperoned or hardly going out are likely to have more of an impact.
None of these considerations have ever crossed these women’s minds. Women no.1 and 2 are completely convinced that their answer is the One True Answer, so they constantly give Woman no.3 an earache with their solutions to her problem. And over time they’ve succeeded in making her believe that her creep problem is a reflection of her inadequacy, rather than of the fact that we live in an imperfect world.