“It’s a shame we sometimes have to treat every dude as a predator, but it’s a crazy world out there.”
Two notable progressive journalists started a conversation on Twitter about male privilege and female vulnerability when they complained of the behavior of men who find themselves alone in an elevator with a woman they do not know.
In a Sunday tweet, ESPN the Magazine’s Mina Kimes issued a public service announcement urging men to have more awareness about their hotel elevator etiquette.
“don’t think this occurs to most guys, so: when you get into a hotel elevator with a strange woman, try to press your button first. and if you get off on the same floor, exit the elevator first,” Kimes, who has expressed feminist sympathies in the past, wrote.
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The veteran writer explained that her current stance came about in response to past negative experiences in elevators, saying she had been “followed” and “had to turn around, fake phone calls, etc.”
Kimes’ fellow journalist, Jemele Hill, staff writer for The Atlantic and outspoken critic of President Donald Trump, empathized.
“If a man is on the same floor as me and I get off first, I either figure out a way to let them pass by me, or step to the side and fake call someone,” Hill, who previously worked for ESPN, wrote in a tweet. “Most men do not understand the temporary panic we feel in these situations.”
“It’s a shame we sometimes have to treat every dude as a predator, but it’s a crazy world out there,” Hill lamented in a followup tweet.
If a man is on the same floor as me and I get off first, I either figure out a way to let them pass by me, or step to the side and fake call someone. Most men do not understand the temporary panic we feel in these situations. https://t.co/MKqZ1H2wQF
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) April 7, 2019
The two women’s dialogue kicked off a wave of discussion from various media figures eager to weigh in.
Actor Diedrich Bader touted his wokeness by revealing that he apologizes for getting off on the same floor as a woman. “I get it, that’s why i apologize that I’m on the same floor,” he wrote in a reply to Hill’s tweet.
I get it, that’s why i apologize that I’m on the same floor
— Diedrich Bader (@bader_diedrich) April 7, 2019
“Im always aware bc of my size that i can be intimidating so i try to put women at ease both actively (being respectful) and passively (keeping my distance),” Bader added.
Monica Lewinsky shared a related anecdote: “i was just saying yesterday how, if platform not crowded, i don’t go past the subway turnstile until about 2 mins before train comes.”
ESPN host Scott Van Pelt said that Hill’s tweet had sparked personal introspection. “What’s messed up is I always allow the woman to leave the elevator first. Just trying to be a gentleman. Never thinking, this could cause anxiety. Always ask : which floor do you need? Same reason. Will have to rethink these things,” he tweeted.
Sports journalist Omar Kelley said that the “genuinely educational” conversation had changed his “elevator behavior.”
Podcast host Exavier Pope took the discussion into the realm of race. “Trying to say as thoughtfully as I can:The race component in this dialogue is important. In the scenario mentioned, I’ve gotten out first as a black man routinely as a practice & walked to where I’m going as briskly as possible w/out looking back, hoping I chose right direction,” he wrote, which led Kimes to concede “that black men already do a lot of this stuff innately.”
Pope was grateful for the recognition of his own oppression. “Thanks for acknowledging. I wanted to express while being sensitive to what you face,” he replied. “We move through the world differently knowing there is criminality attached to our existence, so we do the best we can to eliminate the assumption for our own personal safety & peace of mind.”
Hill and Kimes’ admonition to men comes amid a post-#MeToo culture that has become increasingly concerned with how traditional societal norms affect women. In the most recent example of an intensified scrutiny surrounding the behavior of privileged and powerful men, seven women have come forward to accuse former Vice President Joe Biden of inappropriately touching them without their consent.
Critics of #MeToo have argued that the movement has become overly focused on policing so-called microaggressions. Writing in The New York Times in Nov. 2017, Bari Weiss argued that the #MeToo movement had moved from “uncovering accusations of criminal behavior” to “criminalizing behavior that we previously regarded as presumptuous and boorish.”
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