As a man who wants to get it right I’ve found it’s best to ask real live women how I should act in specific contexts, one of which is the scenario of how men ought to interact with strange women at night in a public place. I had an intuited method, but I felt it was important to confirm my suspicions. I conducted informal interviews with women both in person and online. The responses I got were unanimous and emphatic.
To summarize my findings in brief: Men should leave strange women completely alone at night. The best possible thing a man can do is stay as far away as possible. He should be aware of his surroundings and consciously move so as to avoid women. His presence can only make her more afraid, and so the method of least suffering is for him to avoid her completely. Ideally, he should disappear from sight before she even notices him and just stay away, since no man is a welcome sight for a woman at night.
If a man gets himself maced it’s his own dumb fault for invading a woman’s space.
“Well hold on just a sec, Wyatt,” a man might say, “I am a shining paragon of moral decency and would never harm a lady, so why should I, a man so pure of heart, avoid women?”
Well, in that case, you still should stay as far from women at night as possible. The fact is it doesn’t matter what your intentions are. To a woman at night you’re just a strange man, so you’re going to be threatening to women around you no matter what. If you want to treat them with respect and not frighten or upset them, you’ll keep your distance.
If this makes you, as a man, angry, take it up with other men. They are the problem. The reason why women have to be afraid of men is because men are so often dangerous to them. The problem is men. Women are simply trying to cope with men.
There is no way to approach women at night that won’t make them afraid. Anything you can think of has been done by rapists to disarm women, so there’s just nothing you can do besides keep your distance; literally anything you do or say to a women in this context will terrorize her.
If you’re an aspiring good guy and want a world where women can walk around alone at night without a care in the world, you should work on yourself first to make sure you’ve addressed your own sexist nature given to you by a sexist society, then work to teach other men how to be more caring towards and less dangerous to women. In the meantime, keep your distance.
In addition to generally staying away, here are some specific actions for men to avoid when around strange women at night:
Do not walk right behind her. If he realizes he’s doing this, he should freeze and just let her keep walking until she’s far ahead of him.
Do not walk directly towards her. If he sees he’s on an intercept course with her, he should change or even reverse course in order to maintain a long distance of seperation.
Do not offer to walk her to where she’s going or speak to her. A lot of men think they’re being helpful when they do this, but for the love of god do not do this. Don’t speak to her at all, don’t offer to do anything, just don’t. She will not feel safe, she’ll be terrified of the man and be forced to either risk a confrontation by telling him no, or risk letting him follow her somewhere she might risk assault. A lot of violent stories begin with a predatory man offering to ‘help’ a woman, so no good man should ever scare a woman like this. Just do not every do it.
Do not stare at her or otherwise show interest. Showing interest is the first thing a predator does, so a good man goes out of his way to communicate how completely disinterested he is in the women around him in public. Better to appear rude than to give a woman the idea you’ve taken an interest in her.
It’s really quite easy for a man to act like a gentleman around women in public, especially if he puts a bit of effort into remaining aware of his surroundings. He just needs to stay the hell away, keep his mouth shut, and in all other ways pretend she’s the most boring thing in the world to him. It’s a small act of kindness to allow women to pass through the night without having to wonder if this will be the guy that ruins their life.
Hopefully in the future, if men get better, it will be possible for men to interact with women at night without causing fear, but for now that just isn’t possible thanks to the violence of men.