Miri has a great post on street harassment. One interesting bit:
Some men who want to compliment random women on the street are genuinely good guys who just don’t understand why their comments might be unwelcome. Some men who want to compliment random women on the street are creepy predators. Most are somewhere in between, and guess what? I don’t know you, I don’t know your life, and I have no idea if you’re going to leave it at “Hey, you look good in that dress!” or follow it up with “But you’d look better without it! Har har! C’mon, where’re you going? I know you heard me! Fucking cunt, nobody wants your fat ass anyway, bitch.”
When you compliment a random woman who doesn’t know you, no matter how nice you are about it, there’s a good chance she’s going to freak out internally because for all she knows, you could be that latter type. And I get that it’s really unfair that women would just assume that about you. I get that it sucks that sometimes, expressing totally reasonable opinions like “hey you’re hot” will make women terrified of you or furious at you. That’s not fair.
But if you’re going to lay the blame for that somewhere, for fuck’s sake, don’t blame the woman. Blame all the guys who have called her a bitch and a cunt for ignoring their advances. Blame all the guys who may have harassed, abused, or assaulted her in the past. Blame all the people who may never do such a thing themselves, but who were quick to blame her and tell her to just get over it.
Ya. That applies to more than just street harassment – it applies to quite a few things. It applies to me, for instance. (Doesn’t everything??! No. Not everything does. Contrary to myth, I don’t think that everything does. But this does.) If I don’t smile sweetly when you jeer at me on Twitter, blame all the people who have called me a bitch and a cunt for whatever the hell it was I don’t even remember. If I’m irritable about online harassment and stalking, blame all the people who have been online harassing and stalking me for anything from a few days to almost two years.
But it also applies to other things, including the thing Miri is talking about. It’s all connected. Trigger-happy hostility to women is the underlying issue.