What's rape anxiety? This woman explained it to her favorite men, and they were shocked.

These conversations could make a real difference in whether all people feel safe and comfortable in the world.

A couple years ago, I had a conversation with some of my guy friends that I’ll never forget.

We were talking about whether there’s such a thing as "a good rape joke" (answer: no), and I mentioned that women tend to have “rape anxiety” in public. They didn't understand the concept, so I explained:

Sometimes, if we’re walking down a dark alley alone, we worry that we might get raped. That anxiety can even happen in more low-risk situations, like if we’re walking to work in broad daylight or even when someone rolls down the window of their car to shout something about our bodies.


My dude friends looked at me like I had just convincingly explained to them that the Earth was flat.

A protestor at a Take Back the Night rally in London. Photo by Charlotte Barnes/Wikimedia Commons.

They had no idea that I experienced this fundamental truth of my existence every day.

They had no idea this feeling was shared, to some degree, with most women (and other marginalized people who are threatened in public spaces). It had never even occurred to my favorite men that many of the people they interact with live with this form of apprehension all the time.

A few weeks later, after our conversation, my friend Eric told me a story.

He said he was walking down the street at night, about 15 feet behind a young woman. At one point, she glanced back at him — and he recalled our conversation. So he started walking slower and decided to take a different route home, in case he was unintentionally making her nervous.

I gave him a hug and felt lucky to have men in my life that take sexual harassment and gendered violence seriously. But even well-intentioned guys may be unaware of how their position of power creates intimidating situations.

To the dudes I love, the dudes who walk me home at night and care about me very much, here’s what your female friend wants you to know when she's talking about harassment and violence:

Photo via iStock.

1. I need you to listen to me.

Resist your impulse to "not-all-men" your way out of the conversation. If I'm talking to you about this issue, it's because I trust you and I think it's an important discussion to have.

Please understand that my experiences may change your worldview a little bit — and that yours might change mine. If both of us approach the conversation with the assumption that we have something to learn, chances are we will.

2. I need you to be aware of how your behavior could unintentionally make the women (and femme and queer people) around you uncomfortable.

Maybe you're trying to chat up a woman at the bar who doesn't seem interested and you're just not taking a hint. Maybe a step in the right direction is realizing that the woman who's glancing back at you while you walk down the street is trying to assess if you're a threat.

When you're more in tune with the harassment that women experience every day simply by existing in the world, the next step is to notice if and how you play a role in those situations. Lots of times your threat is harmless, of course. But it never hurts to think critically about how you treat women, especially those you don't know, in public.

3. I need you to use your privilege as a shield.

Guys, it's exhausting to have to do all of this work ourselves. We really want your help.

The perpetrators of gendered microaggressions, sexual harassment, and sexual violence aren't strangers — they're the men in your classes, your workplace, your gym. So if you see something, please say something.

If a coworker makes an inappropriate comment to you about another coworker's body, please tell them it's not OK.

If you see a dude harassing a female friend at a party or a bar, please tactfully interject yourself into the situation to give her an out.

And, for the love of all that is holy, PLEASE teach your sons, brothers, and friends to do the same.

It may be uncomfortable to start talking about sexual violence and harassment, but it's so, so necessary for all of us.

Those conversations could make a real difference in whether people like me feel safe and comfortable in the world.

That matters.

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Andy Grammer, the pop singer and songwriter behind feel-good tunes like "Keep Your Head Up," "Back Home," and "Don't Give Up on Me," has a new album out—and it is seriously fabulous. Titled simply "Naive," Grammer says it's "all about how seeing the good in todays world can feel like a rebellious act."

"I wrote this album for the light bringers," Grammer shared on Facebook. "The people who choose to see the good even in the overwhelming chaos of the bad. The smilers who fight brick by brick to build an authentic smile everyday, even when it seems like an impossible thing to do. For those who have been marginalized as 'sweet' or 'cute' or 'less powerful' for being overly positive. To me optimism is a war to be fought, possibly the most important one. If I am speaking to you and you are relating to it then know I made this album for you. You are my tribe. I love you and I hope it serves you. Don't let the world turn down your shine, we all so badly need it."

Reading that, it's easy to think maybe he really is naive, but Grammer's positivity isn't due to nothing difficult ever happening in his life. His mom, Kathy, died of breast cancer when Grammer was 25. He and his mother were very close, and her life and death had a huge impact on him.

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via Stratford Festival / Twitter

Service dogs are invaluable to their owners because they are able to help in so many different ways.

They're trained to retrieve dropped Items, open and close doors, help their owners remove their clothes, transport medications, navigate busy areas such as airports, provide visual assistance, and even give psychological help.

The service dog trainers at K-9 Country Inn Working Service Dogs in Canada want those who require service dogs to live the fullest life possible, so they're training dogs on how to attend a theatrical performance.

The adorable photos of the dogs made their way to social media where they quickly went viral.

On August 15, a dozen dogs from Golden Retrievers to poodles, were treated to a performance of "Billy Elliott" at the Stratford Festival in Ontario, Canada. This was a special "relaxed performance" featuring quieter sound effects and lighting, designed for those with sensory issues.

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"It's important to prepare the dogs for any activity the handler may like to attend," Laura Mackenzie, owner and head trainer at K-9 Country Inn Working Service Dogs, told CBC.

"The theater gives us the opportunity to expose the dogs to different stimuli such as lights, loud noises, and movement of varying degrees," she continued. "The dogs must remain relaxed in tight quarters for an extended period of time."

The dogs got to enjoy the show from their own seats and took a break with everyone else during intermission. They were able to familiarize themselves with the theater experience so they know how to navigate through crowds and fit into tight bathroom stalls.

via Stratford Festival / Twitter


via Stratford Festival / Twitter


via Stratford Festival / Twitter

"About a dozen dogs came to our relaxed performance, and they were all extremely well-behaved," says Stratford Festival spokesperson Ann Swerdfager. "I was in the lobby when they came in, then they took their seats, then got out of their seats at intermission and went back — all of the things we learn as humans when we start going to the theater."

RELATED: This sneaky guide dog is too pure for this world. A hilarious video proves it.

The dogs' great performance at the trial run means that people who require service animals can have the freedom to enjoy special experiences like going to the theater.

"It's wonderful that going to the theater is considered one of the things that you want to train a service dog for, rather than thinking that theater is out of reach for people who require a service animal, because it isn't," Swerdfager said.

The Stratford Festival runs through Nov. 10 and features productions of "The Merry Wives of Windsor," "The Neverending Story," "Othello," "Billy Elliot," "Little Shop of Horrors," "The Crucible" and more.

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