#YESALLWOMEN, #YESALLMEN

Those things are not compliments. They are humiliating and reduce a person to feeling like an inanimate object, and it feels very much like an implied threat. Even more so when I did not respond and that earned me a verbal barrage of another type which felt even more threatening. Sometimes they would follow us to our car and continue making comments and wanting to know where we were going. 

I’d like to say these are extreme examples, but sadly they’re not, and the list goes on and on and on. I have so many stories like this, and there’s nothing special about me. I am just an average woman, and I don’t know a single woman who doesn’t have a long list of their own stories. They have been a very regular part of my life. It happened to a friend just the other day.

I have been put in some incredibly uncomfortable situations and been made to feel embarrassed and apologetic even this past year when someone I consider a fairly good guy has felt the need to comment on my body in front of his wife. I think it was awkward and uncomfortable for both of us women and so unnecessary if he’d simply have thought before he spoke.

The saddest part of all this and the part that makes me the angriest is that nothing has changed. In fact, I think it’s even worse now with social media and technology making it even easier to terrorize women and to do so anonymously. My teenage daughter simply walked down the sidewalk last summer in our small town and had an older man make a crude sexual comment to her.

There is a “secret admirer” page for her college campus on Facebook. It is all anonymous posts. Last year, her freshman year, there was a post made about my daughter and her roommate. The page admin said he had received the submission multiple times and finally posted it, after “cleaning it up a bit.” What was actually posted were comments about the physical attributes of my daughter and her roommate, things he’d like to do to them, including a threesome with them, that my daughter’s hair made him think “really kinky things,” and a clear statement that he knew where they lived and had been observing them on multiple occasions.

They were understandably freaked out. They were actually so scared they had a guy friend escort them whenever they left their room for weeks, actually being more afraid to walk around inside their own dorm than out on campus, because he knew where they lived. Her boyfriend 6 hours away was beside himself with concern. My daughter wore her hair in a bun for weeks to hide her hair. 

This is so important. I want to get this across. The girls were afraid to walk around inside their own dorm and my daughter was afraid to wear her hair down. These were not harmless comments. They made these young women literally change the way they lived and acted for weeks out of fear, because they felt unsafe in their own living environment. The fact that my daughter felt the need to wear her long beautiful hair up in a bun, not because she liked the hairstyle, but because she felt the need to hide it because some creep saw it as sexual and she was afraid to let it be seen lest it encourage such thoughts, enrages me.

Absolutely not all men are like that. Of course not. I have always known that. Some of my best friends have always been, and continue to be, male. There are men here on tumblr who are speaking out on this subject.

I know for a fact there are men who also sometimes feel objectified and devalued as a person when women just want to use them for sex, but I don’t think they have the same accompanying fear for their safety or the constant lack of respect that is so pervasive for women, and on so many levels. 

The point is that #yesallwomen experience these things on an alarmingly regular basis. This is our daily reality and until we really know you well and trust is established, we have no way of knowing which men are the “not all men” and so, like that m&m analogy, we have to assume they might be poisonous until we can sort out which ones are safe, because to assume all are safe until we discover which ones are poisonous could cost our safety or even literally cost us our lives. Sometimes it is one we have come to trust and think of as “safe” and a friend who then turns into one of the “poisonous” ones.

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