Fiona and I went to Target the other day. On the way back to our car I couldn't help but notice a couple in the parking lot because the man was berating the woman loudly. Clearly he wanted people to hear and clearly she was used to this type of thing because she didn't say a word and kept her head down.
Thought I wasn't happy to see this and even less happy that Fiona was seeing it I was prepared to leave the situation alone. It wasn't something I could call the cops about, and if he was the physically abusive type it could be dangerous for me, the other woman, and even Fiona. So I was minding my own business.
However this is the type of guy who likes to bully women. He swerved his cart across the parking row until he was blocking my way. So ridiculous as it was we were playing a game of shopping cart chicken. This was a whole different story, I'm not going to allow this guy to intimidate me particularly in front of my daughter. So I just kept walking a straight line staring him right in the eye. I suspect my left eyebrow which I can't always make behave when I'm angry was raised in defiance, and very likely my jaw was clenched (though I may just think I was braver than I really was). I had a fleeting thought about how I was supposed to behave if the carts collided just before he dropped his gaze and swerved out of my way.
Men who bully women are cowards. They pick on someone they think is smaller and weaker than they are. There are different kinds of strength. It's probably to much to hope that the woman learned that if she stood up to him he'd back down but I'm going to hope it any way.
On the other hand...
I was in a shop the other day. As I was leaving a woman and her son were entering. I stepped out of the way politely to let them through. The son who couldn't have been more than seven saw me and held the door for me. I smiled and thanked him.
Manners and respect are easy things to pass on and do so much good.