Who’s sick of hearing the “#yesallwomen” tweets and updates that have swept social media since the tragedy in Santa Barbara?
Newsflash, you’re part of the problem. A big part.
Sorry to hit you with some tough love there, but you may as well get used to it, because the love in this post isn’t going to get any easier. Just be grateful that the above didn’t say:
Newsflash, you’re part of the problem, asshat.
I typically avoid conversations on hot button topics on my blog. Truthfully, this is a release for me and it is supposed to be a place of entertainment, so I keep my personal opinions to myself generally. I don’t want this to become a soap box. Occasionally, something slips through, and I just can’t keep quiet anymore. This is one of those moments.
Socially, we tend to view women’s issues as a thing of the past. This occurs in the same misguided idea that racism and religious prejudice are things of the past. Things that went away once women got the right to vote and own land, or segregation, or the Spanish inquisition. But, let me explain to those of you fortunate enough to live your life without ever being maligned: just because it isn’t as bad as it was (or still is in some parts of the world) doesn’t mean it’s not still a major problem.
Just ask any victim of the any prejudice. I guarantee that it happens so much more frequently than you have the luxury of having to imagine.
The fact of the matter is, we have adapted to protect ourselves from it in so many ways. We just try to act a certain way in mixed company to avoid offending the offensive, just to prevent those hateful words, and threats of violence from those around us. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never done or said anything in the past, the fact of the matter is that it has happened so frequently to us that we have no choice but to be on high alert with every new person we meet.
You think this is an exaggeration or excessive? I guarantee it’s not. Ask a young black man if he speaks differently to a white woman he randomly encounters in public, or a woman how differently she walks when alone versus with a group of people. I bet every single time he or she will tell you that there is a difference.
What’s excessive is that we have to do this.
Where does this come from? Easy, we allow it to happen. We allow these prejudices to happen. For example, “bitch” is a totally acceptable word in our society. I hate it. HATE IT. It implies two things, 1. The person (typically a woman) is at the level of a dog, and 2. The person is subservient to the speaker. Can’t stand that word. I don’t care who uses it, it promotes the degeneration of women and should not be considered acceptable.
Another example that seems so innocuous: the “nice guy syndrome”. We’ve all heard of this, probably even laughed about it. The idea that women only date assholes. And I’m not arguing that a lot of women date assholes, but the premise behind this “syndrome” is that it’s not fair that the nice guy doesn’t get the girl.
WHAT. THE. FUCK.
Why is it presumed that a woman is required to be interested in a guy who shows her interest? Nice or otherwise. The reason she doesn’t like you, homeskillet, isn’t because you’re nice. It’s likely something else. You may be ugly as sin. Sorry, suck it up, you don’t attract her, get over it. Maybe you smell. Maybe you’re so desperate you make her uncomfortable. It doesn’t matter the reason, she’s not into you. Move the fuck on.
Moreover, you’re so busy mooning over this girl who’s not interested in you, you’re probably missing the girl who is mooning over you. You, in essence, are treating that girl the same way your crush is treating you. (Feel free to insert, “asshat” anywhere in the above.)
I have read several things online that generally state the reasoning behind a lot of these differences. Why others don’t understand how major a problem all of this is. I found instances of conversations or interviews with both men and women. Men were asked why they were threatened of women – the answer? Typically something as innocuous as a woman’s opinion threatens a man’s ideal of masculinity. When the same question was asked to women about men, the answer was quite different. Death, violence, rape.
Why are these answers so different. A lot of people boil it down to the simple fact that by their nature, most men can overpower most women and the same is rarely true vice versa. That’s likely a factor, but it’s deeper than “boys are stronger than girls”.
As a woman, I am accustomed to having my ideals threatened. I have lived with the emotional abuse that comes from everyone around me for being a woman my whole life. “You can’t do that, you’re a girl,” “you’d be so much prettier if…” unwanted advance? “you shouldn’t have…”, “girls don’t do that,” “you’re being so emotional,” “man up,”. All of this and more, catcalls, comments on my figure, my weight, my hair, my clothes. These are things I just am used to as a woman. What else can a man do to me emotionally that society hasn’t already?
I work in a male dominated field. I have to prove things that my male counterparts don’t. I have to do twice as much to prove the value of my skills. I’m used to this, truthfully, it’s part of life at this point. As a women, I walk into most meetings with my guard up, because it’s very likely that my male counterparts will do what so many males do when someone the deem as weaker disagrees – try to bully them into agreement. I just go in assuming this will happen so I’m ready if and when it does.
This is not gender related, but it is prejudice related. Before I continue, you need to understand how big a fucking deal it is that I am saying this. It’s not something I necessarily hide, but it’s also not something that I advertise. Not even my in-laws really know this about me, so to post this on the internet means a lot to me.
I’m not a Christian.
Seems so small and so easy, right? Well, I have a lot of devout friends and family who will not find the above statement acceptable. I used to think I kept it to myself out of respect for the beliefs of others, but honestly, it was self-preservation. Remember, I was born and raised in the Bible belt, and I have learned to defend myself from those who think they can convert me or those that tell me I’m going to go to hell. Or worse, those that just drop me from their lives entirely.
I don’t need to be saved. As a matter of fact, I tend to believe that those trying to save me are the ones who need to be saved from wickedness. Not all, but a lot.
I have amazing friends who know this about me and don’t care. For example, my best friend, Grit McGrit, is a very religious woman. She knows that I do not hold to the same beliefs, and still accepts me for who I am. We often have religious discussions and we learn from and challenge each other. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I’m fairly certain she prays for my soul because she’s convinced I’m gonna end up in hell based on her beliefs, and quite frankly, I’m grateful for that. She doesn’t think that maliciously, and her prayers for my soul are genuine. While prayer isn’t important to me, it is to her. For her, a prayer in my honor is a gift of love, and I couldn’t ask for anything more. (For the record, I keep her in my thoughts and wish her nothing but the happiness and the best of everything too.)
What all this boils down to is I have been raised to protect myself. To keep my keys ready, to know how to use pepper spray, to dress a certain way, to know how to handle my drink at a party or bar, to say the phrases that will keep me off the radar of those who think they can change my head and heart in a single conversation. I was raised constantly on the defensive from men, other women, and nasty zealots.
Just because these threats aren’t present from every member of the above groups, doesn’t mean that this isn’t an issue. It won’t be an issue, when it stops. When it’s no longer “cute” to make disparaging comments at women. When a woman can walk into a room without feeling threatened by judgmental women and predatory men. When “boys will be boys” is not an excuse for males to treat others poorly or demean women. When young boys are raised to understand that girls are just as important and worthy of respect as their fellow males.
I am perfectly aware that this is not an issue every man causes, so the bullshit response of #notallmen pisses me off even more. I married a great man, he’s wonderful, but even him I have had to give some perspective to. You, as a man, may not have tormented a woman to her face, but how many times have you joked with your friends in private? How many times have you witnessed other men be misogynistic and done nothing? You may not have done anything, but by not standing up to stop it (then and now) you may as well have.
Everyone, even me, is guilty of doing something like I mentioned in this post. No one is perfect, and that’s not what is expected. I know that there are times when insensitive things are done or said because the person doesn’t realize they’re insensitive (I’ve totally done this – sometimes my curiosity gets the best of me and others are inadvertently offended). However, until we stop putting the blame on the victims of these prejudices, this will remain an issue.
It’s not just about women, it’s about the underbelly of our society that finds prejudice and mistreatment of others as acceptable.
So, keep hashtagging the hell out of that. Hashtag your own stories, show empathy and solidarity for women and understand that we are maligned as frequently as others. Don’t let, “because she’s a woman,” be an excuse for mistreatment of another human being.
Here are some of mine, feel free to add to them and keep the tag going.
Because my gender is not a factor in my intelligence. #yesallwomen
Until men have to walk at night on the phone with someone to prevent an attack. #yesallwomen
Because I am judged on my looks as much if not more than my skills, experience, and work. #yesallwomen
Until I don’t have to worry about what may have happened when I set my drink down at a bar. #yesallwomen