My feeling is that it’s aggression toward women in general, bolstered by a belief that even the toughest woman on the planet wouldn’t turn simple harrassment into an ass kicking. I’m pretty shaken up every time I have an unexpected run-in with a mentally ill person on the street. I’m a 6’ 190 lb guy who might look possibly threatening if there was ominous music playing and I had my hoodie pulled up. But any time I’m the target of random aggression I freak out. It almost makes me cry and I ruminate on it for months. Then I build an emotional shield from the experience.
I’m trying to develop a preemptive emotional shield of words. “Calm down, dude!” seems like a good start. “Whoa, take it easy. Everything’s going to be ok.” has worked. “Just try to watch for crosswalks in the future, dammit!” worked once after some jackass decided that me tapping on his SUV window when he cut me off in the middle of crossing the street was reason enough to jump out and shout, “that’s right! Keep on walking you little pussy!” Quietly apologizing and then loudly, annoyedly pointing out that I apologized has worked.
After the experimental word play, I then go back to the place where it happened to reassure my panicking subconcious that I’m not unsafe on the corner where my adreniline spiked. That seems to be a pretty important part of not letting the experience cripple me in some way.