Thursday, May 29, 2014

#YesAllWomen

Let me preface this by saying I'm not going to make this about guns because that's a whole entry in itself (I will just say I don't understand the 'nothing has to change! everything is perfect!' attitude. This is... perfect? It can't be better?)

Let me preface this by saying I'm not even open to discussing whether or not autism has anything to do with it - because it doesn't. Aspergers can certainly cause a feeling of social isolation, sure. I'm a chubster - if I was in High School right now I could be crucified for it, I could be lonely. If I then went and attacked people, it wouldn't be because I was chubby or because fat was a universal, gelatinous time bomb. (Someone wrote about it here much more eloquently).

Let me also preface this by saying that even though the majority of people who read this blog are probably women, men folk - of course I'm not talking about all of you. If there could be a positive that has come out of this last week it's been seeing how all of the men in my life have responded in horror, and some of them seem even more affected than women.  I'm surrounded by lovelies - but like I read in a brilliant tweet this week: ""UNFAIR! NOT ALL MEN!" Imagine a bowl of M&Ms. 10% of them are poisoned. Go ahead. Eat a handful. Not all M&Ms are poison." (And if your online outlets aren't full of lovelies like mine are, maybe post this which is awesome).

Let me also preface this with a picture of a cat hurling a Shakespearian insult - because some of this may be a trigger for some ladies, so let's just consider the below cat portion the unsafe bit, yes?

(Source.)

We good?

In the event that you don't know and are too embarrassed to ask, to recap: last Friday a man in his early twenties killed six young people in Santa Barbara, CA, before killing himself. He did this after uploading a series of YouTube videos (the last one remains) and a 141 page manifesto explaining why. In short, women were too stupid to realize what a catch he was, he was still a virgin, and other people were living the life that he deserved - and dontchaknow, if just one woman would have said yes to him then he would not have had to have done this. (Let me say that the video is disturbing - I know a girl or two who couldn't handle it, but I found it handleable. Just as a warning.) This inspired horror, discussion of misogyny and women sharing their own experiences with being victimized because of their gender under the hashtag #YesAllWomen.

I have been at times entranced by and at times unable to read stories under #YesAllWomen. There just isn't a girl or woman past a certain age who doesn't have some story 'big'  or 'small' to contribute. There just isn't, and that's no surprise at all - but there is something about having a few days where you're forced to stare at the details, and the sheer number of them. I haven't added any of mine to the mix even though I think volume is important and my Facebook/Twitter accounts seem to be blowing up with them.. so here goes. (When I'm done I'll put up another catty cat pic so you can skip these to avoid triggers).

By the end of 3rd grade I was a B cup. By the end of 4th grade, a handful of boys called me Dolly Parton and eventually kept offering me money to show them. (I'm happy to report none of these boys grew past 5 ft 2 inches - teach you to make fun of puberty, assholes). #YesAllWomen

I was 10? 11? The first time I said no to a boy and he kissed me anyways. It was not the last. I was 14 the first time a guy tried to grope me without a hint of permission. It was not the last. I was 16 the first time I had to forcefully push a drunk guy away from me so he would just stop trying. It was not the last. #YesAllWomen

When I was 13 and living in a foreign country a man followed me for months, wrote me letters, eventually disarmed our alarm system while we were on vacation, stealing my underwear and pictures of me out of frames. #YesAllWomen

I was 16 when a boyfriend pulled my parking break while I was driving on the highway because I wasn't showing him proper respect. #YesAllWomen

I was 17 or 18 when my big boobs & lack of acting like a 'lady' led to a lot of boys in school wrongfully thinking I was a slut. The number of pregnancy rumors were mind boggling (not to mention totally fucking ironic). #YesAllWomen

I was 20 when I got out of my first emotionally abusive relationship. #YesAllWomen

I'd say it's been nearly 20 years since I've gone a day without a little habit designed specifically to avoid rape, it's been 15 years since I've gone a week without a man having an entire conversation with my boobs, and about 10 years since I've gone a week without a man calling me, in a condescending way, 'honey' or 'sweetie'. #YesAllWomen

What makes the idea of sharing and reading all of these stories awesome? Everyone has them. Solidarity. What makes the idea of sharing and reading all of these stories terrible? Everyone has them. Solidarity.


So I've been trying to write (outside of this blog) about the shootings, the hashtags, the videos, the whole bit for several days now. And I keep getting... stuck. Just utterly constipated.  There is too much, so much, epic amounts of shit and it's not coming out.

I'm having trouble getting it out for two reasons, I think.

One, I'm angry, just like everyone else - but I'm really angry that I'm not more surprised. This should be a fucking shock, and it's not.

Because really... way more than a handful of women were killed, today alone, because a man felt he was owed a substantial piece of her being that she wasn't willing to give.

What's shocking about what Elliott Rodgers did is that it was seemingly random. He seemingly had every advantage in the world. He did it on a larger scale than just one, specific woman. He was so confidently rotten at such a young age and most of all he without hesitation recorded his very clear views on women - he didn't pretend, he didn't edit himself, he didn't wait until he was in the 'proper company' - he just laid it all out there, that's how confident he was in his beliefs. (His beliefs weren't shocking, just his confidence in laying them out).

But the fact that a man sought revenge on women because they wouldn't give him what he perceived he was owed as a man? I have tried, and there's just not one little ounce in me that is shocked. And that fucking pisses me off.

The second and much bigger reason I'm having a hard time writing about it outside of this blog in any lucid, cohesive fashion is because I'm fucking exhausted of the idea of misogyny. I am.

I am angry, yes, but most of all I am EXHAUSTED.

A few points as to why:

It's not my job as a woman to validate a man unless I clearly and expressly apply for that job. This seems to be a continued point of confusion in society.

Another point of confusion: the existence of my or any vagina in proximity to a penis doesn't automatically mean, imply, or infer a gd thing.

It's not anybody's job to be PRETTY. That is not something that anyone has to be.  I have never seen a man in a tabloid magazine with a close up shot of his thighs with red arrows pointing to his cellulite.

Whether it's calling for women to be more modest or calling for women to be sexier (and both are demanded at the same time, at all times) a disgusting amount of what we do to fall on the Madonna Whore scale is being dictated to live up to mens schizophrenic ideals. These ideals are exhausting and not fucking anyones right to demand, and not living up to them certainly doesn't make anyone subhuman.

I'm irritated because there are sites/clubs/forums all dedicated to picking up women and some of them immediately exploded with sentiments 'if only he knew how to pick up women, this would not have happened! He needed our help!'.  HORSESHIT. Let's think that through for a second - because if the difference between a perfectly rational lovely man and a mass murderer is his ability to 'snag poon' then we should all be way, way more afraid than we already are.  (And to the well meaning, rational men - just on principle, if any group or club describes women as 'targets' then skip it.)

I'm beyond pissed that there are grown ass men commenting under this hashtag with such rationalizations as 'I've never been the victim of a catcall, so they don't exist'.

I'm in my 30s and I need some of the younger women to pick up some of the fight, at this point. Some of them totally are and doing better than I ever did. Some of them are fucking exhausting. 'Feminism' is not a bad word. 'Feminist' does not mean 'man hater' or can't hang with the boys anymore. For chrissakes most of my friends are men. It just means that you have equal rights and can do the things that you want - you want to be a CEO? Awesome. You want to be a housewife? Awesome. You want to have lots of sex, no sex, kinky sex? Awesome, awesome, AWESOME. The only thing not so awesome is betraying your own damn self because you're afraid if you don't take your 'rightful' place behind men that they won't like you as much. Just like with any other group of people - equality is not taking anything away from anyone else.

I'm exhausted because it's 2014 and on one end you have society telling girls only whores have sex (which leads to death!) and on the other they're being told if they're not sexy, they're worthless.

I'm pissed because fucking purity balls exist, where a girls' entire value is tied up to her virginity. Her entire. value. And it's her Fathers to keep until he can hand it over to her husband (I don't even have words for how creepy that is - and yet somehow, I think we would all feel the cootie vibe if it were Mother's protecting their sons' junk). As someone pointed out on Twitter - even Elizabeth Smart thinks the way we talk to girls about sex is bull shit.

Not to mention we still have proms where male chaperones are given the job of making sure the girls aren't 'too enticing'. (It's bothersome that ANY chaperone has to do this, really, unless someone shows up nekkid - but there's something particularly grotesque about asking grown men to review whether young girls are boner proof.)

We've all come up with these ridiculous, convoluted, contradictory rules for women in society and that's all we're teaching the boys, too! Rules for women! There is far less emphasis on the 'handbook to being a man' then there is the day in, day out 'role of a woman' bombardment. FAR LESS.

I think, maybe most of all, I'm pissed and exhausted because I'm going to have to actively teach my daughter how not to get raped or abused. It's 2014 and she's going to have to, just like every woman before her, learn a daily habit or two or ten designed exclusively to keep from being attacked. She HAS to learn those things. Do boys have to learn how not to be a threat in the first place, or can they skip that to avoid awkward conversations?

So worst of all, what really gets me, is in addition to teaching her how to avoid rape I'm going to have to teach her how to teach boys. More times than I care to think about, that will be her unapplied for, unasked for and completely unfair job, just like it's been all of ours. And when she doesn't do it 'right', when the results are less than perfect, it's a crapshoot whether or not society will blame her for her lack of teaching skills, her skirt length for lack of clear boundaries or the boy.

So while she's learning all that, what do boys have to do? Play ball?

18 comments:

  1. *Trigger warning* I've never written about this before on my blog because there's never really been any reason to, but 6 years ago almost to this very day I had a close friend who was murdered by her fiance. She was in the process of breaking up with him; they had been living in different cities due to their job situations for a few months, and she'd decided that she was happier on her own and told him she was breaking off the engagement. He flew to see her under pretense of winning her back, but he strangled her to death instead before killing himself. Obviously the whole thing was very traumatic for our group of friends, but probably the worst part was that we had absolutely no idea that he was the kind of guy who would do something like this. You always kind of think that the guy who kills his girlfriend is an abusive asshole, but he wasn't. He could be kind of a dick at times, but no more so than any other popular, entitled jock. There was no sign. Nothing at all that made us say that we shouldn't let her see him alone. Nothing to make us worry or make her take precautions. It terrified me for a while that you could THINK that you know who and what to be afraid of, and yet be so utterly and tragically wrong. Attitudes of ownership / control of women by men are more pervasive than I think we want to admit a lot of the time.

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    1. Holy shit! That is TERRIFYING. I am... beyond sorry that that happened. Sorry sounds stupid.

      Not anywhere near the same scale - but the few friends I've known who have gotten out of abusive or scary relationships... it's sort of shocking how many of them don't seem like raving lunatics before. It's like they had it hidden somewhere and then somehow they unleashed it in the moment.

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  2. What an entitled little wanker!! I am willing to be he's never experienced a single "INJUSTICE!" in his life. I am watching his little video... so far I am 11minutes in, and if he says "beautiful blonde girlfriend" one more time I am going to lose it.

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    1. Totally entitled wanker. In his manifesto he goes on about his aristocratic genetics and how that should make him more qualified. It pisses me off that it's less his views that are shocking and more his total honesty about it.

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  3. I for one plan to talk to my son about respect and consent, about how women aren't objects. It's going to be a struggle considering society tries to contradict that very idea at every turn. There is no "Boys will be boys," in my house though, and there never will be. Thankfully I have a husband who stands by this and can be a good role model too. And if I have daughters, I'll have to teach them all the things you already mentioned. It's a scary world out there.

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    1. So fucking scary.

      And yeah - I admit, I don't have the first idea of how you really talk to boys or explain to them like... hey, you're wonderful - but you can be perceived as a weapon, here's how to make it clear you're not one. How does a person do that?

      And it's alarming just some of the simple things men don't seem to think about... Like, I still have GROWN men friends who don't understand that even if you're kidding and being playful, you can't/should never jump out to greet/try to scare a woman friend. Grown. Men.

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  4. I agree with what you have to say. Being that I had boobs in first grade and ended up being felt up more than once even before the tender age of 6 I can really relate to how you are feeling. In no way do I need to validate a man. I keep saying to folks if you don't like your life you are the one responsible for changing it. You can make yourself happy or miserable and it is time that you learned it; well I do say that to quite a few folks. I was raped, beaten and mentally abused. I refuse to let some misogynist ever again treat me like their doormat.

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    1. I'm so sorry that happened to you. Never fails to be startling how many people can say that.

      And agreed - a woman can (if she wants) make your life better not MAKE your life.

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  5. First things first: this post is absolute brilliance and perfection. Thank you.

    I grew up being afraid - incredibly afraid - of men for most of my life. Verbally abusive father, pedophile godfather, inappropriate comments and touching attempts from uncles...it all made me want to stay away from guys for the rest of my life. So no one is more shocked than I am that I somehow found the courage to get married. And now, oddly enough, I find myself in the position of raising a small gaggle of boys.

    Almost everyone I know has told me that it's easier to raise boys than girls, so I should be thankful that I have only boys. I *am* thankful for my boys (just as I would be for a girl), but I strongly disagree about it being easier to raise them. It isn't. In a lot of ways it's absolutely terrifying. How do I get them to drown out all the misogynistic, uber-masculine, don't-be-a-pussy bullshit that boys are bombarded with on a constant basis by our society? How do I convince them that it's ok for them to feel bad about things and to TALK about those feelings, rather than beating someone or something to a pulp over it? How do I get across to them that they aren't owed anything by women (or anyone, really) and that most of the time they're going to be disappointed? How do I teach them to accept these things gracefully? I'll do my best to teach them respect and kindness and empathy, but I worry that it won't be enough.

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    1. First - good Lord I'm sorry that that happened to you.

      Second - not that I know, really, but man alive I don't think raising one gender is easier than the other, just different. With either... it's like, with a girl you have to do your BEST to get her to drown out all the pressuring bullshit and then you hurl her out into society where there's nothing but pressuring bullshit. With a boy, you have to do your BEST to get him to drown out all the pressuring bullshit and then hurl him into society where they tell him every day it's his job to contribute to the pressuring bullshit.

      It's all pretty scary.

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  6. I love your post. Yes, All Women. I'm angry too, and I'm also feeling exhausted. I'm a lot older, and I'm angry that I'm shocked that this is still happening. In my 20s, in the 80s, I was so hopeful things might change. But they haven't. And in many ways, I think they're worse. I've seen so many young women squandering the gains that my generation and more particularly the generation before me worked so hard to get.

    So your post - and the comments - gives me hope. Hope that there are still women who are angry, and who will therefore work hard to try to change things for their children, their nieces and nephews, their students, the next generation. Because we can't give up, even when we are so angry and exhausted that it seems futile. I will try to take notice of my own advice here, and not give up.

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  7. I'm one of the embarrassed and did not hear this story. Lame I know, but having a child had made stay away from the news, per my therapists orders. Because of fucked up shit like this. You ignore it and it goes away right? I haven't watched the video and not sure I can. I have a son and firmly believe in raise your boys and girls the same. Why should there be a gender issue there. If I had a girl I would raise her the same as my son. Unconditional love, be kind to your elders, share, manners, be sensitive to others feelings, treat others with respect. I hope so much that my son ends up kind and doesn't become a sexiest pig, who believes that women owe him something. My guess is he won't, but god damn it I will do my damnedest to make sure he isn't.

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  8. Elliot Rodger was a murderous entitled asshole, but he did not come up with his "manifesto" independently - he certainly absorbed some insanity from society

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  9. Your daughter is beautiful! Congratulations and welcome to motherhood with the little one on the outside! Congrats to Bub too!

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  10. I am guessing you have given birth by now. . . ?

    Would love to read a post from you about how you are adjusting to motherhood. Hope you are well. :)

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  12. Where did you go? How is your little girl???

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