When Women Say NO - Why Don't You Hear Us? Part One
Updated: Apr 5, 2019
#YesAllWomen: A short fuse between rejection and violence
- More than 80 percent of women worldwide experience some form of street harassment in their lifetime.
" The leap from spurned advance to physical violence might not always be as dramatic as last Friday’s killing spree by 22-year-old Elliot Rodger, who murdered six people and wounded 13 in the University of California at Santa Barbara community before taking his own life — but it isn’t as far as many would like to believe.
Rodger’s actions, which he detailed in a 137-page manifesto and a YouTube video, were part of his plan for “retribution” to punish women, “hot girls” in particular, for denying him the sex life he said he “deserved.” He also lashed out at other men for being able to experience what he felt he was denied."
Toxic Masculinity? -
I had a conversation recently with a 17-year-old young man. He's a good kid, polite, cares deeply for others, will put himself at risk for anyone without question, loves his mother, adores his sister, has a deep and abiding respect for womankind but with that said, the minute I said: "Toxic Masculinity" he could barely control his frustration.
He, like most, have an immediate and visceral reaction to that term. I tried to explain to him what that term meant to me, with no avail. He wasn't interested, he took it as an immediate dig at men as a whole. At that moment, this boy who has been raised around feminism was not that far removed from men who believed that the concept of toxic masculinity was created to punish Men for being Men. All it took was one thing to put them on the same emotional playing field.
What I had tried to explain to him, was for me, when I think of toxic masculinity I immediately think of the above-cited statistic. That term conjures for me the thought of, an unending need to place your will ahead of someone else even if it is at the detriment of the other person. This happens because your ego cannot handle what could possibly be a humiliating rejection of your manhood. Sadly to say, very often this leads to verbal and physical assaults.
Growing up I legitimately thought that this was just how it was. My body, my space, my womanliness was not my own to control. It was there for the general consumption of others. Mostly; for men. You got used to catcalls, men touching you in the club when they could have easily gotten past you without the aid of your waist or arm. I had formulated many plans on how to deal with it, but to be honest when it happened all those plans were for naught. I would stand there, sit there and quietly hope it would end quickly.
A lot of it had to do with the fact that somewhere in my upbringing I had come to the conclusion that I was not allowed to say no to a man's requests. Speaking out went against everything in me. So I'm certain they took my acquiescence for approval, but to be honest I'm sure they didn't even worry about whether I wanted it or not.
My Experience With It -
I was in college at the time. Two friends of mine and I were walking late at night. We were in a part of town that we didn't know all that well but when your 18, you have a tendency to lean towards "young and dumb" :). It was snowing, the sidewalks hadn't been cleared yet so we were trudging through at least a couple of inches. We had just passed a convenience store when we heard someone calling us from behind. All of us girls turned around and standing there, were two teenage boys. I couldn't hear them very well but I had thought there were asking for my friend's phone numbers.
Ignoring the request, we turned back around and continued on with our walk. It was in that moment that it went from "hey can I get your number?" to "Yo Bitch! I'm talking to you!" I remember feeling this need to stand up for my friends. I can't remember what exactly I said but I do remember telling the guys that my friends weren't interested and to leave them alone. They guys got visibly frustrated and told me that they weren't interested in my friends, they wanted to talk to me. Feeling emboldened I informed them that I wasn't interested. I then turned around and we continued to walk. For a minute I thought we had gotten away. The guys were silent and I truly believed that they had taken their loss like little adults and continued on their way.
I COULDN'T HAVE BEEN MORE WRONG.
The next thing I heard was "stuck up light skinned Bitch!". Before I could even react I felt a heftily sized snowball hit the back of my head. My girlfriends screamed and moved out of the way. I stood there humiliated, too terrified to look up for fear I would catch their eyes and what had started as a humiliating moment would turn into violence.
I got lucky, they were satisfied with the assault and humiliation that they had heaped upon me. So instead of continuing they turned tail and slowly sauntered off. I will never forget the train ride back to the dorm; my friends wouldn't look me in the eye nor would they speak to me. I felt so embarrassed and alone. Later that night I called my boyfriend at the time and told him what happened.
At that moment I really felt like I needed a male to tell me that what had happened was wrong and not typical, not all men were like that. But more than that I needed the comfort of someone I trusted. And honestly, I had halfway hoped that he would be furious and threaten to kick their ass.
But all he said was, "why didn't you just give them a fake number? They would never have known and then you wouldn't have gotten hit."
His response left me feeling so deflated, so unsure of myself. I immediately second-guessed myself, was I to blame? Had I brought this on myself by being rude? If I had just been nice and talked to them for a while then maybe they would have left me alone.
I wish I could say that was the only time something like this had happened, but sadly it had been happening in some form since high school.
It wasn't until years later when I was a Mother of 3 that the catcalls, the touches, the lewd glances, - reached a new level of harassment.
I was out with a group of friends at a local club. We were having a good time and I had told the girls I had to go to the bathroom. As all women and girls know, we do not go alone. But this time I had insisted I would be fine, the bathroom wasn't far besides they were dancing and having a good time. They agreed and I slowly started to move through the crowd. At some point on my bathroom journey, a guy grabbed my wrist and pulled me slightly back towards him. He wanted to talk, to get to know me better. I smiled and said, "I had a man but thank you." He didn't like that answer so he tried again. This time I was a little more forceful and insisted that he let me go because I had to go to the bathroom.
What happened next came so fast I couldn't have prevented it even if I had known how. I remember somehow I ended up with my arms locked behind my head and I was being pulled up on my tiptoes. His friend was standing next to us laughing like it was the funniest thing he had ever seen. There I was in a hold that had rendered me immobile. I was so terrified and once again humiliated, I kept asking him to let me go, trying to wiggle out but to no avail. As I was standing there trying desperately to get free, I watched the people in the club walk passed us. No one stopped to help, they would either ignore what was going on and keep their eyes on the ground or they would look concerned for a second but never stop moving.
No one came to save me, I had no idea how to get out. I was so scared, I was terrified that either his friend was going to sexually assault me - he had the opportunity and he wasn't repulsed by his friends' behavior. Or I was going to be walked out of the club still in a hold, on my tip toes to God knows where on my way to being another statistic.
At that point I had no reasonable expectation of some form of intervention, everyone who had seen what was going on had ignored it and actively chose to ignore it.
I'm not sure how long he had me like that but at some point, he must have gotten bored because he had let me go just as suddenly as he had grabbed me. Once he let me go he went on his way as if nothing had happened.
I stood there for a second, no longer needing to use the bathroom and I was too scared at that point to be without my friends. So I made a beeline for them.I never told them what happened because by that time I had come to accept that this form of assault was my fault in some way and I had brought it on myself.
I am only one of thousands/ten's of thousands/millions of women who are harassed and or assaulted throughout the world. These occurrences happen every day and for the most part, we as women are constantly told how to avoid it or we are asked what we did to create the situation. Whenever I hear someone say "well she should know better than to have gone out that late by herself." or "Did you see what she was wearing? I'm not saying that it's her fault but it might not have happened if she was wearing something a little less revealing."
Victim Blaming -
If you are going to tell me how I contributed to my assaults - all I have to say is - I'm fucking over the victim blaming!
The article below says everything
25 Ridiculous Things I Shouldn’t Have to Do to Avoid Street Harassment
October 23, 2016 by Maisha Z. Johnson
When it comes to the issue of street harassment, you can’t really grasp what the problem is unless you’ve had to deal with it.
So for those of us who do know what being harassed is like, we often have to put up with not just the harassment, but also with dismissive attitudes doubting that it’s as bad as we say it is.
“What’s the big deal? Take it as a compliment!”
“Well, I wouldn’t mind if women were hitting on me all day.”
“Look what you’re wearing – what’d you expect?”
These comments are super frustrating. They invalidate our experiences, victim-blame us, and just plain miss the point. Plus, they have the dangerous impact of excusing the unsafe and often violent cultural norms that we’re surrounded by.
When will we as a society stop and assess how we are dealing with violence against women? Articles like the one above should not have to exist at all. It is simply unacceptable that we are willing to turn a blind eye as a society, as individuals, as friends and family members. The longer we stay silent the longer we accept it as the status quo and the more we tell those who are perpetrating the harassment and those that are being harassed/assaulted that it's okay, that it's a situation that the women must deal with on our own.
I could talk about what harassment is, but I think it might be easier to state what it is not. (If I've left anything out feel free to let me know)
What harassment/assault is not:
THE WOMAN'S' FAULT!!!!! (period,underlined,book closed, discussion ended)
Its a simple list, you do not ever get to blame her clothes, her shoes, her cleavage, the way she is sitting, the way her ass looks from behind, the way she said hello, the way she refused to say hello, the fact that she doesn't want your phone number, doesn't want to be your friend, etc...................
AND FINALLY ..............
If you take nothing away from this post, think of this:
I am only one of the millions in this world who had decided that they were powerless because nobody told me; either through their words or through their actions that what was happening to me was not my fault and that I was not alone.
It starts with you, be mindful of what you say and how your wants affect others. Don't let your friends and family off the hook so easily next time. It's free to educate yourself and others, who knows, maybe the effort you make will change how someone else is treated.
Part Two - Take Responsibility For Your Actions - This includes Parents
Part Three - Women Stop Survivor Shaming - Treat Your Sisters With The Respect They Deserve