Why #YesAllWomen?

cropped-header.jpg

Because I have two sons and a daughter.

I’ve been seeing all this #YesAllWomen stuff everywhere.  I’ve been reading lots of talk, a lot of opinions, and of course a lot of bullshit.  I’ve read some who think it should be #AllPeople or #AllMen or whatever.  But I think they are missing the point.

 I started thinking of what I have experienced in my 34 years as a woman, and I don’t think a man, any man, would have experienced those things the way that I did.  Not all the things that women are so used to that we just shrug or walk away or lock our doors.

#YesAllWomen is not saying that ALL men are sexist, raping, murdering pigs.  I’m not saying all men are bad guys, or even not-great guys.  I’m saying that I do not know a man who has ever been afraid to walk to his car after dark because he might be shoved up against it and raped in the parking lot.  But every woman I know has felt that fear, or worse, the reality.

Lately I’ve been paying more attention to what people say to me when I’m out and about, and some of it is disturbing — mostly because I am so used to it, I guess, that it means nothing to me, and partly because I’ve caught myself thinking, “well, if you weren’t wearing this dress” or “you were bending over to buckle the car seat.”  Um, what was that?  Our rape culture has infected my brain, a woman’s brain, to the point that I excuse shouts of “DAYUM” or “I’d hit that!” because of WHAT I WAS WEARING OR DOING?

I’m ashamed of myself and that is why I’m writing this.  Because I don’t deserve to be spoken to like that and I don’t deserve to feel threatened because of my sex or my outfit.

When I was in kindergarten I only went to school half a day.  A little boy on my street went in the morning and I went in the afternoon, so we would pass each other walking to and from school.  One day on my way to school he stopped me by grabbing my arm and pulling me behind a short, wide tree in his yard and pulling up his shirt and down his pants.

When I was in the fifth grade I moved to a new school.  We sat in groups of four desks, two side by side and two facing.  For a couple of weeks I twisted my legs and shook my head and whispered fierce warnings to the little boy who sat across from me.  It didn’t stop him from taking his pencil and trying to insert it between my legs every day during class.  When I finally told the teacher, I thought I was in trouble.  The next day I got to pick a seat anywhere I wanted in class.

When I was 13 years old a boy on my bus stood up and when the bus hit a bump, pretended to fall, landing on top of me and not getting up for far too long.

When I was 18 years old and coming out of a big box store on my way to work, I found a note under the windshield wipers of my car.  The note said that if I just waved, the author would come over and do such vile things to me that I can’t even type them here.  Just wave, it said.  I was scared to even look up or move my hands even to lock the doors, but lock the doors I did, and drove away.  I went on to work and only told my parents about it later.

When I was 19-years-old I worked nights alone at a convenience store.  One man would come in every night and just watch me for hours.  I was so afraid of him that I wrote down his name and license plate number on a receipt book with the note, “if I disappear, he did it.”  Eventually my dad started coming to work with me every night until I got put back on the day shift.

When I was 20-something, a man tried to get into my car, chasing me around it and beating on the windows to be let in.  He was yelling the entire time.  This was at a convenience store in broad daylight and no one did anything.  I did not know the man and I locked myself in the car and drove away.  Later that day I reported the incident to the store owner, who basically laughed at me.

Last week two strangers yelled things at my rear end, indicating that they were enjoying the view and would like to see more.  I ignored it for the most part; thought that I shouldn’t have been bending over trying to hook up a car seat while wearing a dress and heels, even if the dress did come almost to my ankles.

I’m not saying that all women are all good.  I’m not saying that a woman would never harm another woman. But I think as women, we hurt each other in different ways.  A woman could threaten me with rape and worse, either as a joke or as a real threat, but it seems less likely to me simply because a woman understands that fear of having your body taken without your consent.  Also, generally they don’t have penises.  I said GENERALLY, calm the fuck down.  God.

I’m sure, I mean POSITIVELY sure that there have been more incidents like this throughout my life.  These are just the ones that stand out right now.  And I think it’s pretty sad that I can think of 7 instances off the top of my head where I was treated with at least total disrespect and at most threat of harm, invasion of my personal space, threat of rape, kidnapping, or murder.  And those were just the times strangers accosted me.  I’m not even mentioning the times when the perpetrator was someone I knew and trusted.  I’m not ready for that yet, or maybe ever.

So, men.  Think back.  How many times can you remember being catcalled by a woman, or where a woman has touched you inappropriately (without your consent), or sexually harassed you, or threatened you with rape?  That’s why it’s #YesAllWomen.


 

Now, for some lighter fare, go check out my new page Reviews, News, and Booze where I interviewed Brad Carter, author of Saturday Night of the Living Dead!

About Steph

I like words. I suspect I would like sanity, but I really have no way of knowing. I can be reasonable, but not often. View all posts by Steph

41 responses to “Why #YesAllWomen?

  • JRose

    Yup. Trying to decide if I will tell my stories of male trauma on the blarg.

  • Michelle

    I’ve been thinking about this so much lately as well. I think we just become used to things we here and fear we have to process. I dont think.these horrible little scenes never leave us. I remember walking home from school in the 2nd grade and a much older boy asked me if I wanted to see a baby bird….and of COURSE I did. But I remember it felt off..I was uneasy. I lived in the city and I was walking down an alley alone with a older boy. He was looking into sheds, etc. I don’t know…finding the right place? A boy in my class who NOBODY liked started calling my name from half a block down and I ran to him because I didn’t know what this other kid was up to, but I knew it was bad.

    The boy in my class said, MIchelle…stay away from him…he’s a bad kid.

    I have no idea what might have been in store for me, but I’ve been grateful to that kid from my class my whole life for keeping it from happening.

    • Steph

      OMG! I’m so grateful that you knew something was up and to that kid too! This isn’t right. I don’t want my daughter to EVER be subjected to anything like this. xoxo Michelle.

  • merbear74

    Wow…this post brought back a couple of scary memories for me…times when I felt violated, but laughed it off.

  • gluestickmum

    True, true, true.
    That said, at home I DO walk home in the dark alone. I have done since I was 18 and I’ve never had any trouble. Because, as you say, people perceive things as happening in the dark so the streets are policed and, actually, the most intimidating things have happened in broad daylight and/or not involving strangers.
    I don’t believe that violent opportunistic rapists and murderers are lurking on every corner. I believe that more often things happen when signals are words are misconstrued.
    At night I’d actually be more concerned for men, then risk of physical violence greater than sexual violence.
    But still, #AllWomen is important for exactly the reasons you give. Well said.

    • Steph

      Thank you. I’m glad that you do not let things like this stop you from doing what you want to do. I used to be much more fearless; how much of that now is anxiety and how much is the world we live in, I don’t know.

  • Twindaddy

    I’m trying to think of something relative or supportive to say, but coming up with nothing.

    As to your questions, there have been, surprisingly, a couple of instances where I was touched inappropriately by a woman. One woman did it at work in full view of multiple coworkers. I was too stunned to feel any outrage or even say anything to her. Eventually I became more worried about my wife finding out since we both worked at the same place.

    The difference is, though, if push came to shove I could have defended myself from her if necessary.

    • Steph

      I thought of you when I wrote this! Cause I thought, well, that one crazy biotch was mean to him, so he might understand. Also because I knew that you would take this the right way and NOT think I was attacking all men.

      • Twindaddy

        I know you’re not. Yes, I had an abusive wife and she was the one I was afraid of finding out that a coworker and straight grabbed my ass in plain view of about 5 different coworkers. I was certain that would somehow be my fault if she ever knew. Luckily she didn’t find out.

        • Steph

          Ugh! I totally agree that ALL people need to show respect for each other. So you *can* kind of understand how I feel, because I can’t count the number of times I’ve had my ass slapped. It’s a violation, even if they don’t mean it to be.

          • Twindaddy

            Yes. Even without that happening I can imagine it wouldn’t be pleasant at all. There are a lot of douchebags out there…sigh.

  • Mental Mama

    How incredibly timely – our department had a meeting with HR yesterday about this exact thing.

    It’s disgusting that any human being should ever have to be afraid of any other human being for ANY reason, but you’re 100% right – women are more often afraid for all of the reasons you stated. And rather than say shitty things about each other, like “she was totally dressed like a whore, she had it coming,” we should protect and support each other.

    And honestly, shouldn’t we maybe teach guys that NO means NO and raping women (or other men) is just completely unacceptable? Just a thought.

    • Steph

      Exactly. I actually talked to my boys about this when all this stuff started. I said if someone says “no” even if they have previously said yes, even if they just took their own clothes off, even if they change it to yes or look like they might say yes, at a SINGLE no, they need to STOP whatever they are doing.

      Of course, they were insulted that I thought they needed to be told that, because they would never, but I just felt so strongly about this that I had to be sure that they knew in black and white.

  • El Guapo

    Well said, and I agree that any man that sees this as a general attack on men is missing the point.

    I can’t imagine this was easy to write. go you for standing p and telling your story.

  • beverlydiehl

    Hi, saw your comment on The Bloggess.

    Thank you for this. #YesAllWomen need to speak out about the times we have been pressured, catcalled, assaulted and raped. I blogged about my two rapes last years – I am not ashamed that men CHOSE to rape me.

    The more all of us “nice women,” “respectable women” share the times men have behaved badly, the less stigma and the less “She must have dressed/done something to deserve it” attitude will be floating around. We need men as allies, and yes, not all men rape, but MANY men turn a blind eye to a$$hat behavior.

    • Steph

      Beverly! This went to my stupid spam folder; I’m so sorry.

      Anyway, yes, I agree – the stigma of “oh she asked for it” has got to go. I’m so sorry that you have such REAL experience with this. I do agree with what you said about “respectable” women also, although I doubt that many would call me respectable, lol! Hugs, and I’m so glad you stopped by!

  • heylookawriterfellow

    Such a powerful and eye-opening post, Steph.

    I hope this gets Freshly Pressed.

    • Steph

      Wow, thanks! It’s not my best writing, but the sentiment *was* powerful…I thought about it in the car and then it just came spewing out once I got home and started typing. I felt so strongly about it that I just hit publish. Now I’m kind of wishing I’d cleaned it up a bit, but oh well. (There go those anal tendencies, lol.) I appreciate the compliment, sir!

      • heylookawriterfellow

        Hey, nobody says you can’t tweak it a little now. I polish my posts all the time after I hit the publish button. Not that your post needs polish, mind you. But as a fellow anal person, I understand where you’re coming from.

  • Jana

    I had a terrifying experience when I was still in grade school. Basically, I was held captive for more than an hour while I was pressured to have sex ( I didn’t even know what sex was until that day) with a “friend’s” teenage brother. I also had a near date-rape experience when I was a teenager (thankfully the passed out before the deed was done, leaving me bruised both physically and mentally). Both still make me cringe when I think about them.

  • Janice

    YES to all of this. I live in a huge urban city and the constant mass of people is a comfort and a threat. Just taking the subway everyday is stressful, I always try to find a position where my back is to the wall so that men can’t come up behind me to stick their hands between my legs, because that happens a lot. I’ve been followed home and propositioned so grossly that I can’t repeat it here, men have crawled through my windows….but the most surprising thing about all of this is that, I explained what it was like to be me for a day, to a date once, and he had no clue whatsoever what a woman experiences on a daily basis, that it is a constant vigil on my part to stay safe. That’s when I realized how much still needs to be said about rape culture. So, yes to #YesAllWoman!

    • Steph

      Janice, that is terrible! I’m from a really small town and I’m always on guard when I go to bigger cities. I carry mace everywhere. I’m so sorry that you’ve felt this too, but so glad we connected. Thanks so much for commenting.

  • jaklumen

    http://jaklumen.wordpress.com/2014/05/26/canary-tweets-in-the-abyss/

    Yes, I’ve been sexually harassed by women. (Granted, I was sexually harassed by men, too.) I was also falsely accused of rape by a woman. And my mother thought that showing her private bits to 6-year old me was a good idea in the name of sex education.

    Don’t get me wrong– during MANY of these experiences, I was made very painfully aware of how women face these issues much, much more regularly than men do. Especially during the relationship that ended in the rape accusation. I’m painfully aware how it has affected my wife– 15 years filled with many tears and pain. But thank God, she helped me so much with dealing with my own.

    • Steph

      Oh Lord that is terrible! I hope you understand that I don’t mean to belittle anything that has happened to anyone by my post.

      Recently I’ve thought about accusations, false accusations, and the like, and that is terrifying. You hear about these people who have been imprisoned and then set free because of DNA or such. I hope everything is better now? You said 15 years, so I am really hoping this happened 15 years ago and you have moved on. No one should be abused by their parent or guardian and no one should be accused of something they didn’t do. Sounds like your wife is a keeper!

      • jaklumen

        Trauma is what it is… I’m still reminding myself the nightmares are over, and learning to deal with the complex PTSD. Cimmy hasn’t completely healed from her molestation, either. I look at it this way: I may not have duck feathers so water slides off my back, but I can learn to shake it off like a dog. (Wish I could feel more like dogs do… they can love their owners so unconditionally.)

      • jaklumen

        Oh, mental health is an issue for me, too– I’ve been in the system for over 25 years. Puberty and middle school was absolute HELL. Anyways, I like to think I can relate very well to what many trauma survivors deal with. I just wish I could have gotten help with it specifically a lot sooner.

    • Steph

      And Jaklumen, how is it that I’ve not been following you?!? I am now, and I’m reading the link.

  • Deanna Herrmann

    I think we’ve all been thinking about this a lot and that is one good thing to come of it. I appreciate you sharing your opinion and stories. It definitely reminded me of some and I’m one that actually has more from people I know then maybe from strangers. Some of yours were so scary, like the note on your car! Holy shit!

Respond to this lunacy here.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: