#yeseverywoman ….except maybe not me…
I’ve been watching this roll out in the media and social media around me. I have read with horror and empathy as women expounded on their harrowing tales with sexual assault and sexual intimidation, watched as every man who dared to speak up and say, “hey wait, I’m not that guy” got lambasted for his privilege and his obvious inability to “get it” and I’ve wondered what in the world I’ve done wrong in my life that I didn’t feel the way these women do.
Let me be clear. I am a cis-gender woman, complete with big breasts. I have never in my life felt as though my life or my body were in danger due to the proximity of a male of the species. When a guy uses sexual aggression in a social situation I reward him by telling him he’s an asshole and walking away. When a guy tries to talk down to me or expect me not to know something because I have boobs, I show him what I do know.
Am I naive to behave as though people are people? Am I wrong to believe that people can rise above the social programming in individual interactions?
Or possibly worse, does my thinking that way, does my behaving that way, in some small measure help perpetuate the very culture where rape is seen as common place and our girls are perpetually taught to protect themselves rather than our boys being taught not to rape?
These are the questions that have been rolling around in my head this past week. One thing I know for certain, my treating men like grown adults who know how to behave even with a penis and a set of balls is never going to END rape. There will always be situations and individuals and we won’t ever stop it completely. And YES, we need to have consistent and strict punishment for those caught and convicted. And YES, women, it does fall largely to us to not be stupid.
I’m reminded of a young man I knew in high school. He was something of a hellion. He was known for being disrespectful, getting into fights, causing trouble. I became friends with him. I made it clear with my behavior that his behavior was unacceptable. Very quickly when he was with me he was respectful, even chivalrous. He controlled his words, he spoke to me about the reasons he was angry or hurt…by the time I’d known him a year, he was a different young man. He was getting better grades, he was making friends. My expectations changed how he behaved.
Since then, I’ve applied this principle with others, both male and female. Most of the time it has positive results.Sometimes it fails, but I guess that helps me remember I am human. In every instance though two things were constant: I EXPECTED and made my expectations clear, a certain model of behavior and I loved unconditionally, even when the behavior wasn’t modeled.
Nothing I’m saying is a solution. I don’t know how to fix what is wrong in a society where men feel justified killing a woman who won’t have sex with them, or where rapists are told “don’t do that again” and let out into society simply because their victim was their wife. I don’t know how to help every woman feel secure in her own body, in her own sexuality.
I’m not sure I actually have a point except to point out that #yeseverywoman isn’t exactly true….because most of what I see being posted under the hashtag doesn’t apply to me. And yeah, I’m a big fat woman, and I’m usually the person my girlfriends use as their “safety” when we’re out and some guy gets ideas that make them uncomfortable (by which I mean, they sit in my lap and kiss me and make it clear I’m their girlfriend so the guy gets the idea…which is probably not the “right” way to handle that, but how do we even fold that into this conversation?).
So, am I somehow privileged because I don’t feel threatened by every guy I pass on the street, every dick in a bar thinking with his little head? Or is it because I don’t find myself desirable enough to be aware of the threat they pose? Or is it maybe that I haven’t yet experienced any overt sexual aggression? Or am I oblivious?
I honestly don’t know. I just don’t know.