I started to write a post about the #metoo movement today and how I felt about it as a woman who is constantly traveling alone and how great I think it is that women are finding the courage to be open and honest about what has happened to them as well as how heart-breaking it is for me to fully come to grips with just how large of an issue this is and just how many women around the world have been affected by this.
But the post that I was working on seemed such an inadequate response to the situation after I read this man’s thoughts on how to tackle rape culture:
The first thing that went through my mind after I had only gotten to his second point was a stream of expletives fueled by stunned indignation. I was so angry, but I simultaneously could not believe what I was reading. Did he seriously believe this would work? Did he genuinely type this out believing to have discovered the answer to ending sexual harassment and assault in the US? Could he possibly be either so naïve or so arrogant?
Either way, it is clear that he has no idea what he’s talking about. And the thing that worries me is that many of the men who are going to feel the need to speak up and voice their opinions (as they are so often wont to do) will also have no idea what they’re talking about. So, if you’re one of those men and you’re about to start telling women how we should say “Stop” and “No” more forcefully and how women who falsely accuse men of rape should receive just as severe sentencing as men who actually commit rape, let me stop you right there.
I’ve been followed. I’ve been coerced. I’ve been groped and grabbed. I’ve been raped. I know how it feels to be physically unable to move because twice your own body weight is pinning down your arms and legs. I know what it feels like to squirm pathetically, helplessly under a hulking mass of flesh that you’re physically unable to move or get out from under. I’ve found myself in frightening situations where I didn’t always know what the outcome would be and it scared the living shit out of me, because the thought crosses my mind that if this man is willing to force himself on me, what isn’t he willing to do? I’ve woken up in a cold sweat to the sound of my own screams ringing through my head, the result of memories that refuse to be forgotten. I’ve almost killed myself because of what’s happened to me, not once, not twice, multiple times: I spent a year of my life trying to work up the courage to end my own life. And I’ve spent many more years trying to convince myself that my life has value and that one day those experiences won’t haunt me, that one day those experiences won’t affect EVERY SINGLE decision I make regarding men, making trying to have any kind of relationship with a man so exhausting that it’s hardly even worth it at that point.
I know what it’s like to spend every year of my life since I hit puberty the target of sexual harassment, sexual assault, lewd comments, and unwanted sexual advances. Do you Johnny? Do you have ANY idea what that’s like? No. No, you don’t. 99% of men don’t. Even men who have been sexually assaulted or raped (and I’m not trying to undermine their pain here, what they go through is horrific) have no idea what it’s like to ALWAYS be the target.
Because being born with a vagina means being born with a target on my back.
So Johnny “I used to be a sleezy pick-up artist who viewed women as prizes that were won if you played the game well” Jen, no your suggestions are not actual solutions. Not only are they proffered from a place of complete and utter ignorance of the topic, they are also wildly misogynistic: only one of your “solutions” directly targets men and what men should do, while the rest demand that women be responsible for ensuring that these crimes aren’t committed against them, or they use the pronoun we, again forcing women to shoulder half of the responsibility for not getting raped or assaulted.
These aren’t solutions, these aren’t even actionable suggestions. These are only perfect examples of bullshit mansplaining and I don’t care if I offend or hurt anyone’s feelings by saying that, sometimes the truth hurts.
Here are some actual solutions that movements like the #metoo are currently working on addressing:
- Force society to recognize the magnitude of the problem so that women who come forward are not so easily met with suspicion and downright disbelief.
- Have serious legal action taken against sexual criminals from ALL walks of life as a message that these crimes will no longer be tolerated.
- Lessen the extent of toxic gender roles and gender “norms” in society that instigate men’s belief in their own superiority (either physically or intellectually) so that a generation of young men can be raised with the firmly held belief that women are human beings first and girls second. The power of toxic gender roles in our society cannot be emphasized enough. So long as men continue to see women as girls first and human being second, they will continue to feel empowered to treat us as second-class citizens because they were taught from a young age that girls are inherently “weaker” and somehow “lesser” than them.
THESE are real solutions. Steps such as these will ACTUALLY help lessen and even end rape culture in America today, not victim blaming and telling women “Oh well if you just shout louder I’m sure there will be a ‘good’ guy around that will come to your rescue, because you know you’re so much weaker and need rescuing.”
How about instead of ‘we need to be rescued because we’re so much weaker’, men just stop being fucking disgusting sexual criminals we need rescuing from.