When I was still a kid (14) a 40-something-year-old man exposed himself to me in a parking lot. HAHA so funny, right? Get over it, it’s not a violent act.
Well, actually he ended up hopping in his car and began following me. I didn’t know what to do, I was petrified and small and knew that I wouldn’t stand much of a chance if he was able to get me into a secluded area where he could possibly attack.
The only thing I could think to do was memorize the plates on the car and book it.
Luckily as I ran, I happened to stumble upon a security patrolling by the library, where I was able to report the incident (later had to ID him, though he plead guilty prior to the trial). I don’t know what would have happened if I hadn’t come across the police, how far he would have kept following, or if he would have dragged me into his vehicle once I reached a more deserted area.
I looked up his record later to find he had been charged with violent crimes in the past.
A man exposing himself is always a potential threat because the situation can quickly escalate into a full-on assault, and you have no idea whether that will happen or not. What happened to me may not seem like a big deal to most people. However, as a child, having to come home with the police and explain what happened to my parents, and later in detail to a prosecutor, was humiliating and, to some extent, traumatizing.
The point of me posting this is not to say whether the guy in the picture was a threat or not or to discuss his actions specifically, but more to discuss how the act of a man exposing himself to a woman against her will, is threatening in many contexts, though it seems that many people view it as immature at worst.
Of course, many men and women already realize this, but not all of them. Sometimes I feel like brushing off or excusing actions such as exposing oneself to an unwilling bystander allows institutional sexism to continue. By affirming, and not condemning such actions, we are saying, hey its okay to make women feel uncomfortable because it’s just how things work.
Anyway, it’s late so I’m getting off topic, the point was, I consider the action threatening because it can and sometimes does lead to a more serious offense.
It could have escalated in my situation had I not found help.