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!