For a long time, people have tried to explain why women are so cautious and fearful so much of the time to those who just don’t quite get it. They have never had to deal with decades of “rape prevention tips” where the burden of being safe is placed on victims, not on attackers. One of the explanations that was floated around is shorthanded to “Schrödinger’s Rapist;” meaning that we have no idea of knowing whether we will be safe with you or not.
Thus follows any amount of honest or willful misunderstandings where we’re told that’s just saying all men are rapists (it’s not, by the way). People can’t imagine that women make daily decisions based on fears of being raped, and I think the problem is that it’s sometimes read too literally. Sometimes you might actually be worried about rape and assault, but it’s usually a back-0f-the-mind risk evaluation on whether a man you see is going to respect your boundaries and autonomy or not. It’s subtle risk evaluation. And people do that all the time: human routines are a mass of calculated risk, but very seldom do we sit down and figure out the precise mental calculus involved.
Since Schrödinger’s Rapist has been so misunderstood, I want to offer a new explanation I read recently on Blog Her:
These are our lives.