“I think the weirdest thing about having teenaged boys yell: “suck my dick bitch.” at me is that there’s nothing I can say to them that will make them feel the way that makes me feel.
I have lived my entire life with this threat of sexual violence hanging over my head: I’ve experienced it too. They’re hitting me where I live.
Women can’t threaten men with sexual violence and make men feel small and want to crawl out of their own skin; it’s taken a lifetime of violent socialisation just like this (men leering out of cars since I was 12, peers reaching between my legs in junior high, uncles getting too close, sports coaches grabbing my hips, being groped on transit, being sexually assaulted) to provoke this visceral reaction in me. Men haven’t experienced this constant background radiation of violation that contextualises moment like this.
I get well-intended messages from men: “I’m sorry you had to experience that.” “Those kids are jerks.” I do appreciate people reaching out. The thing is: in the context of my life experiences, this wasn’t even a particularly traumatic incident, so much as an illustrative one. It’s one of thousands of these moments.
I made me sad and a little contemplative, sure, but I’ll get by; feminism really helps with that, because it gives me this (almost) unshakable belief that I am human.
But I don’t want to hear: “those [particular] kids are jerks.”
I want to hear: “I’m not going to tolerate misogyny in my own life, and among my social circle. This stops now; it stops with me.”
There is no threat I can make to a man that will make him hate the fact he was born in the body he was born in. The second I start thinking I’m a person, someone reminds me that to them, I’m just a hole. I’m a bitch. I actually can’t make them see I’m a person. That has to come from other men.
As I get older, I get more and more angry when men I know are hostile to feminism. Because it means they aren’t really listening, or even caring, when I describe the reality of my life. Feminism is my refuge, and the sole source of my belief that I’m not deserving of the way I’m treated. It is the only movement that has dared to put forth the radical belief that women are people.
I don’t even want to hurt the men who do things like this. I just want them to be kind. Yeah, I can carry my knife, or get a big dog in self defense, but I actually don’t have a lust for vengeance or causing people pain. That’s really the worst part of it: being better – being more human, more forgiving, more kind – than them, and still losing.”
The radical belief that women are people. The year, dear readers, is 2016. In your social circles if you see shit like this happen, don’t laugh it off, don’t ‘boys will be boys it’ – demand an end to the behaviour at once. If the push back is too great, the people you happen to be interacting with are telling you a great deal about how they regard one half of the human species, and more importantly strongly arguing against their continuing membership in your social circle.