You bring on very pointed subjects !
You wrote : “About the uncomfortable feelings coming from stranger's glances/glares - I can understand what your friend means. When I lived overseas, walking down the street could become an ordeal if you didn't follow some guidelines. “
Yes it can be very disconcerting with some oafs out there—some men are real morons …but for the most part European women deal with it very well … as they have come to understand that it is more of a mating instinct than a real threat ! In fact , in Italy , if a woman doesn’t get any attention on the street , she comes home feeling very miserable ! They don’t look down or signal annoyance or some other negative feeling , they simply look right though the eyes of the person as if he does not exist , maintaining a neutral bearing which discourages approach ! The confident bearing / not encouraging look can intimidate a male subliminally once his natural predatory instincts sense she does not fit the ‘prey ‘ profile !
Same with suggestive embarrassing remarks …act like you have no ears but dart your eyes for a split second through the idiot ! The best defense is always denying the persistent jerk his existence …not responding ..pretending he is invisible ! Anytime you signal that you are affected by what he does and says , you make things worse !
You wrote:” How are we conditioned to lower our eyes in this way? Why do women feel uncomfortable about meeting a stranger's eyes? I believe this exists to a greater degree than we might think “
Back in Europe , one of my history professors would say that the reason had to do with the very survival of our race , I. e., men waged war and killed other men [generally] but would not harm submissive females so they could live to bear more children !
In my readings of the subject , I note that little girls fall prey to the so called ‘good child syndrome” more so than little boys , although the problem is very acute for both ! It is also referred to as the good child handicap ….parents want their children to grow up decent and responsible adults , but in so doing they set the kids up for some serious problems in life . Sounds paradoxical , doesn’t it ! In other words, the good child , the lady like woman , doesn’t hurt others , is not negative , not rebellious , not angry , does not fight , smiles etc. ! And so it is written that the good child / woman is emotionally handicapped outside the environment they were brought up in ! Many of us still behave at age 40 as the person we were at 5 !
Making matters worse is the fact that as tribal intimacy eroded into soulless bureaucracy ,we are all subjected to a” big brother “ controlling force which manipulates our emotions and imagination!
One hideous manifestation of this concept is the manner in which ‘ big brother ‘ programs women’s minds for self defense , i. e., they are weak , so they need ‘ verbal / physical techniques ‘ different than men to survive ! Fact is ‘ mental toughness’ is more important than physical conditioning ..although that helps ..of course ! Traditionally , the story goes , women have been conditioned to ignore their survival instinct and defer to males for bravery ! But in a good book I read , the title escapes me now , it was written that all women have the killer instinct…that it triggers mostly out the “ mother with child “ biological instinct …but it is always there for the ‘ tapping ‘ as , according to neurobiologist konrad Lorenz in his book “ on Aggression” a full one third of the human brain is devoted to survival –which includes readiness for physical combat !
Now is the interesting point to the discussion : since there is a child in all of us , when you face danger , the inner child faces danger as well , and that triggers the killer instinct momentarily to protect this inner child ! This is the image to project in your mind when you train ! Protect the innocent child inside of you who depends on you for survival !
Developing and maintaining an independent free soaring inner “self “ is the key ! A self- concept that just will not conform to social boundaries ..be a rebel ! That develops a tremendous mind set !