This weekend has been unexpectedly emotional. Elliot Rodgers shooting and stabbing seven people was not actually the thing that has brought me to my emotional knees. The Twitter hashtag trend #YesAllWomen is what has made me feel gutted and strung out on a line to harden in the hot California spring breeze like pulverized meat.
I’m pulled in a hundred directions of thought. I might not be ready to distill it all. So call this the animal dark in which instinct is all I’ve got to navigate with.
I have always been a feminist but I haven’t always realized it. There was a time when I thought that because I love chivalry I must not be a feminist. Because I want to believe in romance. Because I don’t hate men. Because I don’t get offended by a lot of things that feminists I know get really angry about. But put in a situation that challenges my autonomy as a person, that belittles me based on the fact that I have a vagina instead of a penis and I become a force to be reckoned with.
This weekend I have been listening to women’s stories of rape, sexual coercion, unwanted sexual advances, abuse, discrimination, and how they’ve been silenced. How they’ve been told to stop “whining” and making a big deal out of “nothing”. I’ve been listening to stories of the billions of women who never feel safe.
It felt like an old stale jar of forbidden shame had busted open and suppressed memories came flooding through. The fact that I never feel completely safe in this world and the thing I’m most afraid of is men came not as a shock but as a thing I’m not allowed to express and apologize for feeling when it leaks out because I know that not all men are rapists. I know that not all men are misogynists. I have so many amazing men in my personal life that I can’t let these fears free, can’t admit to them for fear of offending or poisoning the good relationships I have with the men in my life.
The thing is, the good men in my life aren’t the ones who make me afraid. They know they aren’t. They know they aren’t part of this awful culture of female oppression and hate, but I feel so worried about offending the good ones and losing them and offending the bad ones risking physical retribution.
Listening to hundreds of women’s short stories about the insults, rape, abuse, and casual stranger boners being thrust into their backsides was like listening to the dark underbelly of this supposedly liberated free society we’re all enjoying and I remembered all the times I’ve been propositioned by men for sex – men who mistook me for a prostitute because I wore a lot of make up (I guess?) or because I was walking alone in neighborhoods where the only women brave enough to do that were looking for Johns. But I’ve also been propositioned on busy posh streets, ordinary streets, during the afternoon, the evening, and pretty much every time of day. And don’t fucking pull out some talk of provocative clothing because I’ve dressed with as little skin showing as possible for as long as I can remember. Fuck anyone who jumps to that thought.
The most corrosive thing is the silence that has been imposed on these stories for so long by not only men but women who are fearful of them and women who are under the spell of the biblical stricture that whatever a man says is law, even above their choice of God. There has been such a mass silencing and minimizing that has proved consistently stronger than the movements meant to weaken the misogyny we’re all exposed to.
This is deeply personal. This is my skin. These are my scars. This is my PTSD. I can’t share all my stories because I have to protect myself. Because down to my bones I know that the first rule of being a girl is to protect myself from the retribution of men. So when I listen to all these stories opening up I know only half of them are being said out loud.
My heart has been both full and leaking fluid all weekend. I’m riled to full fighting height. Above all the stories of fear, of devastating betrayal and abuse, there is the inherent strength of women shining through. The inherent ability women possess to be both emotional and rational. These two qualities in combination are what many unenlightened men fear. The double threat of being able to care for our helpless young while simultaneously able to work out calculus problems in real world applications. Practical, logical, and emotionally engaged is pretty threatening to anyone incapable of it.
As I’m writing this, the thing that disturbs me the most is this constant feeling that I must apologize for my opinions since they aren’t complimentary to all men. As I listen to all the women’s stories I want to embrace them and give them some kind of healing elixir but here’s the beautiful thing – the incredible thing – they don’t really need that from anyone. Women are strong as fuck. They just need to be heard and acknowledged and respected as equals to men. It’s as simple as that.
And obviously not treated like shit.
Or have hard penises rubbed against them in the subway. Because that shit is creepy.
This isn’t rocket science – what women want. You know how men are encouraged to have a rich sex life and also a great career and no one ever calls them whores? Women want that. You know how men are allowed to wear whatever the fuck they want and sometimes it shows a great wide carpet of chest hair and a thick sausage package in their tight pants and maybe women think it’s hilarious but they never take that as an invitation to rape men? Women want that for themselves. You know how men work hard on the job and get paid a standard wage that other men get for the same job and then when they work hard and get a raise and no one ever suggests they slept with the boss and they don’t earn less than other men in the same positions? Women fucking goddamn want that shit.
You know how men can be dirty as fuck in the bedroom but then be considered great dads by society? Women want that. Because you know what? Most women really like fucking and they want to take part in that dirty romp as equals but you know what often happens when they give men EXACTLY WHAT MEN WANT?
They get called sluts. Or whores. GIVING MEN EXACTLY WHAT THEY WANT.
But men are always just being men.
It seems to me that men are the complicated ones. Women want all the things men want but maybe they have different words to describe their feelings and desires. There’s no doubt in my mind (based on experience) that some women and men speak almost completely different languages. But if you take the fucking time to work things out (both parties) it usually works out that men and women want many of the same things.
There are some men who are abused by women. I am for the whole truth, always. There are some really toxic women in the world, absolutely. And for any man out there who has experienced the same treatment by women as women have by men – I don’t condone that shit for anyone. Abuse is abuse and I’m against abusing other human beings and don’t really give a shit about their gender when it gets right down to the details.
But statistics and anecdotal stories show that the number of men being abused by women is an exponentially smaller number than that of women being abused by men.
How many men fear walking home alone at night? How many men have been victims of date rape – and how many have gone on a date fearing such a thing? How many men worry about being raped at all? How many men are really truly afraid of their wives? How many wives actually break their husband’s bones? How many wives give their husbands discrete bruises? How many men worry about everything they say to women – hoping they don’t give the wrong message and create a miscommunication leading to a scary situation? How many men worry about sending the wrong message with their tight pants? How many men wonder if their tone is giving the wrong signals in conversation and wonder if they’ll have to defend their casual conversation in court later to prove they really weren’t leading their rapist on?
They don’t. I don’t have to ask every man I know because I already know most of them live day to day not fearing violent sexual confrontation from anyone. Most women do.
I’ve felt choked up and overwhelmed and full of apology I owe to no one all weekend.
I have been made aware of more hatred towards women than I previously knew was out there. Hatred that endorses killing women for not agreeing to have sex with any man who wants it. Fucking double standard from hell – because when they DO agree to have sex with you without any of the natural and healthy courtship rituals they are slandered as SLUTS and WHORES.
We are disrespected if we do and killed if we don’t.
If the epithets WHORE and SLUT are going to be thrown around then they apply more appropriately to all men. It’s tempting to sling that around at men, to taste that in the mouth of full reversal.
But I don’t think having sex and loving sex make anyone a whore or a slut. Not women or men. Because I see us all as equals and I see sexuality as a normal and healthy part of human life provided all parties are of legal age and able to consent. I don’t give a fuck what gender(s) you prefer. I don’t care if you like to swing or have an open marriage. I mean, I have opinions on how well that works out in general, but I don’t see anything morally wrong with whatever any consenting adults want to do with each other.
Just leave my unconsenting sisters of the world alone because my wrath is waking up.
There’s an awakening happening and I understand why certain men are afraid of it. Women individually are pretty fucking fierce – but if they are mobilized to rise and protect each other they are warriors of the finest caliber and more vicious and brave than any man on earth because they have both the fire of creation and the strength to protect life more than they care about their own skin.
That is a combination to fear if you’re on the wrong side of it.
Women stepping out of their code of silence is an act of rebellion as immense as black Americans stepping out their code of slavery.
Neither of us is finished rewriting the code yet.
All I can say is watch out for women because they’re taking numbers, but not for sex.