In case you hadn’t heard, there was a mass shooting in Santa Barbara, California a few days ago. I saw a link to a video on Facebook and watched it. Six entire minutes of the creepiest thing I have ever seen. The shooter, sitting in his car, going into detail about the crimes he wanted to commit, and why. He is so monotone, any emotion appearing affected and manufactured as opposed to genuine, and has the creepiest look in his eyes and laugh. I immediately became morbidly obsessed with this story, and have been following it every day. It’s not very often that we get to see into the mind of a sociopath (as I like to think of him) prior to crimes being committed. Although YouTube has removed his video, some sites have picked it up. To watch the video yourself, click HERE.
As if that wasn’t enough, the next thing that surfaced was his approximately 150-page manifesto, titled “My Twisted World: The Story of Elliot Rodger”. In this, he details his entire life and the traumatic experiences that led him to the killing spree. I haven’t read it yet, but I have read snippets. To read this, click HERE.
Then, the #YesAllWomen campaign started. With this hashtag, women are openly discussing the harassment and dangerous that it is to be a woman in today’s world. Now now, before you cast me off as a raging feminist or click the X on your browser window, hear me out. I’m not looking to go into a rampage on how men suck. People suck, and this person was clearly disturbed. However, when the conversation becomes about mental illness and gun control, and NOT violence against women, it’s my turn to throw my hat in the proverbial ring of internet conversation. I want to give anyone who is curious a snapshot into what it really feels like to be a woman. I have discussed these points with men before, and they are shocked. They literally can’t wrap their brains around this kind of stuff, and they literally had no idea that women have this weight on them ALL THE TIME. I can’t speak for all women, but I think if you asked one, she might agree that these ideas are inherent parts of our life.
When we walk to our cars, especially at night, we’re looking under the car during the entire walk to see if someone is hiding.
This is something I actually do. I walk to my car, keys in hand, looking at the space between the body of the car and the pavement. I’m looking for a body. When I approach my car, I look in the backseat to make sure that no one is in there. When I get in the car, I promptly lock the doors. Can you imagine that? Whatever it is that a man does walking to his car late at night, I am sure it is not this. Why do women do this? Well…
We have a subconscious understanding that men are naturally larger and heavier than us.
Being ever-vigilant is safer because we are not caught off-guard. In the time it takes for us to react to being surprised, it’s already too late. We can’t rely on physical fitness or our natural body size to protect us in an attack, and we must always be aware. Always. It’s exhausting, never being able to relax, because that split second counts. This is also why we carry pepper spray – so we have an advantage.
We avoid confrontation with men.
This is also related to safety, I think. Women are trained to use the excuse “I’m sorry, I have a boyfriend” when we are hit on. Whether it’s true or not. For a little while, women pretended to be with their lesbian lovers, but men caught on to that trick. The boyfriend line works, but at what cost? What we are saying roughly translates to this: I cannot belong to you because I already belong to another. Why do we say this? Because we were never taught to simply say “Thank you, but I am not interested.” We make this even worse by including an apology!!! As if we are already begging for forgiveness for not being into the guy. Maybe this is because we are classically nurturing souls, but maybe it’s because we don’t want a confrontation. Especially when we are young women, we know firsthand that young men can be aggressive, hostile, pushy, and rude. They are unpredictable, and we try to avoid attracting anger from them. I’m sorry or I have a boyfriend coddles the man – as if he can’t handle “I’m not interested” and only reinforces the power imbalance in something as simple as an encounter with a complete stranger. Which brings me to…
When we go down a sexual path and don’t go “all the way”, a part of us worries what might happen next.
I find this to be particularly difficult. I struggle with it. A lot. If I so much as feel an erection by accident, I feel bad. Growing up, I never had balls, so I don’t know what it feels like when they are blue. All I know is that it was made pretty clear to me how uncomfortable it would be, but no one ever finished that thought with “and he knows how to jack off if he’s THAT frustrated”. At what point do we teach young women that a man’s sexual needs are our responsibility? Sure, I know what it feels like to not get off. I’ve been there. I’ve been ten seconds away and the orgasm just floats away, right through my fingers. How did I want to react? Well, I wanted to throw a temper tantrum, but decided against it. After all, pleasure is important, but let’s not lose perspective. Not everyone gets what they want all the time, and I’ve had enough great sex to stomach a missed opportunity once in a while. So, that guy I’m hardcore kissing in the back seat of a car? Yeah, he wants to bang me. But what if I don’t want to? How do I even slow this thing down or stop altogether? I’m avoiding confrontation and dealing with the guilt of being so careless that I let him get that excited in the first place only to let him down. I mean COME ON. Am I wearing a t-shirt that says “Get your orgasms here”?
We know that when men want to sleep with us, it’s the biggest thing they see.
Now, I am sure there are plenty of men that have matured or tamed their inner sexual animal to the point where they can table that. And, I am equally sure that there are plenty of women that objectify men. But, I also know that most women crave emotional stimulation as much, if not more than, sex. We need the hand holding, and the romance, and to feel valued. We want security and emotional intelligence and intimacy. So while you’re mentally bending us over a chair, we are asking you questions about your hopes and dreams. What’s worse is that we know all of this, and yet we feel inexplicably “needy” or “clingy” because we know that men don’t operate that way (most of the time). Somehow we became the problem with building relationships, because we’re too “complicated” – all for just trying to seek what we need, just like the men do. It’s not a bad thing that men see sex and women see emotional bonds, because we all need what we need. But the overwhelming pressure to be sexually available makes us feel like we are undervalued in other areas, the same areas that we look for in a partner.
We have to hit the ground running in a professional world.
Growing up, my mother wasn’t the kind of mother that wore makeup. She didn’t have perfectly styled hair, and she wore a lot of masculine looking clothing. I didn’t notice any of this about her, it was my female role model, but then I started to notice how she was different from other moms. Once I got older, she told me why. She explained that in order to be taken seriously in the workforce, she had to seriously downplay her own femininity. She explained that she did not want to be seen as a woman for her curvy figure or her beautiful eyes, she wanted to be seen as a kick-ass corporate ninja. As it turns out, she is extremely successful, rubbing elbows with the VP and CFO of her company. I aspire to be like her, but damn I wish I could wear a skirt at the same time. How depressing that we have to make ourselves appear more masculine in order to be respected by our male peers and superiors? Not to mention the battle that women have with other women over appearance and the status related to that.
Our dress code is our dress code because… men get distracted by our bodies.
Think about it. No spaghetti strap tank tops in high school? No short skirts? No yoga pants? No tube tops? Whether or not this is how you dress, we learn very young that our bodies are interpreted in a sexual way and we should cover them up so we don’t distract the boys. I don’t hear teachers telling boys to be nicer to us and bring us chocolate when we cycle, or to stop writing us love poems because “girls will be girls” and we are just so damned emotional.
When we leave a party, we tell each other to send a text when we get home safe.
I am curious – do men tell their bros to let each other know they got some safe? Do you always make sure you walk in pairs or large groups to fend off rapists? Do you worry walking at night, by yourself? Hell, do you get nervous when you are alone EVER?
Sexual assault is, in our society, victim centered. Not perpetrator centered.
I don’t know this people acknowledge this or not, but it’s the truth. A woman gets raped and people want to know what she was doing out that late alone, why did she wear that outfit, why did she blow so much cocaine or get so drunk that she was that out of it in the first place? True – risky behavior does put you at risk, but no one ever asks the perpetrator why he decided it would be a good night to rape a pretty girl. What’s worse, people think that sometimes this is actually okay. Check out this photo:
When we get passionate about something, we are labeled “emotional”. When men get passionate, they are labeled as “strong”.
This one really bothers me. Even at the beginning of this post, I had to make a qualifying statement that you shouldn’t judge me as a raving feminist. Just because I feel strongly about a topic, that makes me emotional and crazy. I’ve been called crazy so many times, mostly by men that didn’t want to hear me assert myself. I get angry, just like everyone else. I get passionate, I cry, I pace back and forth, and I’m like a dog with a bone when it comes to things I care about, or people. Instead of being viewed as a strong woman, some men will dismiss me and say things like “That’s a woman for ya”. Brutal. I have to temper my own feelings to be taken seriously, without seeming apathetic or disinterested. Exhausting.
What I like about the #YesAllWomen campaign is that it brings awareness to the world about what it feels like to be born into this gender. Obviously, these statements are based on my experiences and the experience of those around me. Every woman I know has been afraid when she is alone, because men scare us. Every woman I know has been made to feel overly-emotional, dramatic, crazy, clingy, weird, a tease, a bitch, a slut, and you name it – because of what we need or how we feel or what we think about the world. There may be some exceptions – and I have no doubt that men have their own bullshit baggage they carry around – but this is ours. It’s not meant to challenge anyone or make them feel like crap, it’s just a snapshot – a view into our world.
Moving forward, how do we want to be treated? Well, we want to be treated with respect. We want to be seen as equals. We are very different from you, but that does not mean that we do not deserve the same freedoms; we are all human beings. So, the next time you speak to a woman, think about your tone of voice. Think about your words. Understand that you are at a slight disadvantage because we are raised to see men as a threat. Do not exploit this about us. You wouldn’t be the first one to do so, but just don’t do it. Instead, know who we are. Know we are emotional, know that we have autonomy, and know that we always have a choice. We can be careless, callous, mean-spirited, rude, angry, and any number of things. But, unless you are convinced that we aren’t getting you off out of some twisted desire to hurt you, or unless you believe that we are mentally unstable to the point where we insanely latch on to people, or unless you really know in your soul that the best thing we have to offer is our body – treat us with respect. Please. Encourage others to do the same.