#YesAllWomen

because I was taught to bring mace to college, and my male friends brought condoms”

because “When I graduated and moved away my parents got me a rape whistle.. my triplet brothers got watches”

“Because what men fear most about going to prison is what women fear most about walking down the sidewalk”

I recently became aware of how blissfully unaware men are.  Men, even the good guys, have no idea about the fear we women have lived with since we were able to leave the house on our own.

Since I was a little girl, I’ve been taught about safety.  It’s been ingrained in me how I can best protect myself – in my home and out.  I’ve been given safety precautions from church leaders, public education professionals, police officers, and anyone else who could see that I am a female.

I’ve been taught to look up and be aware as I walk by myself – no headphones, no looking at my phone.  I was assured that no matter how paranoid I appeared, I should cross the street if I was alone and walking toward a man on my side of the street.  It was explained to me that I should have my keys out and ready so I wasn’t fumbling with them at my car and then get in quickly.  I was also told to hold them so they poked out of my fingers to use as a weapon in case I was approached.  And, of course, never get into my car if a van was on the driver’s side of my car, because I was sure to be kidnapped if I did.  I was to go back to the store (bank, mall, etc.) and have a security guard see me safely into my car.

Don’t get out of my car if I hear something weird being dragged behind me or to grab the $100 bill under my windshield wiper.  Don’t roll the window down or get out of the car if a police officer stops me on a deserted road in the dark.  Don’t open my house door if I hear a baby outside.  Because, of course, you’re more likely to get kidnapped if you do any of these things.

I know that I’m not the only one who was taught these things.  These are things that females are taught from a very early age.  There are lots more, but those are some of the big ones I can think of right now.  We do so many without even thinking that they’re second nature to us now.  We silently, subconsciously take actions to protect ourselves in ways that men aren’t even aware of.

And then there are the lessons that men have taught us themselves.  The biggest one is – Don’t ever EVER reject them.  If I do, one of two things will happen: either 1) they will turn around and call me names, degrade, or insult me, or 2) will threaten me or even become violent.  Every time.

I try to always be polite.  When I was doing the whole online dating thing and a man contacted me (who I didn’t find interesting) I would very politely thank him for his interest, tell him how flattered I was, and then wish him luck in his search.  Often times, I didn’t even directly include a direct refusal.  The response I received was ugly – I was called a bitch, he would retract his prior pleasant evaluation of me and tell me how fat and ugly I am, he would tell me to f*** myself, etc.  Every.  Single.  Time.  So, men taught me that I wasn’t allowed to be nice.  I quickly learned that the safest thing for me to do was to block the user and delete the e-mail.  With my nature, that was hard for me to do, but it helped save my self-esteem so I could continue online dating (and eventually find Mr. C.)

The rules about rejecting men doesn’t only apply to dating.  If a man wolf whistles at me, I have to handle it delicately.  If I insult his manhood in any way by responding negatively to his disgusting treatment of me, he could potentially become violent.  If I ignore him, he could become violent.  If I behave too positively, he could be come violent.  So, not only do we have to protect ourselves, we have to do so carefully.  Men outside of our personal circle have a hard time accepting rejection.

Unfortunately, sometimes it’s men within our own circle who have the same difficulty.

because an Arizona Man is accused of Stabbing his girlfriend after she refused his marriage proposal.

We, as women, all know this.  We know that men are stronger than us and that if we try to defend ourselves in any way, we will lose.  We know this and we act accordingly.

The problem is – men don’t know this.  Some of the good men of the world have no idea of the fear we live with, just under our skin, every day of our lives.  They don’t understand that the abusive, overly-sexualized way men have treated us in our lives has trained us to wear our fear as a shield – if we are hyper vigilant and aware, we have a better chance of surviving this world with as few scars as possible.

They just don’t understand.

How much would this world change if the good guys understood the fear we’ve lived with for decades?  Would they defend us against the smaller insults?  Would they stand up for us when other men are being overbearing?  Would they be more gentle with us when we tell them about how we’ve been treated?

because “I told a man to stop staring at me & getting close FOUR times, & he didn’t react until another MAN told him to stop”

I dare my female readers to have the men in their lives check out The Most Powerful #YesAllWomen tweets.  Or even the direct #YesAllWomen Twitter account itself?  Men, why not check it out?  What do you have to be afraid of?

 

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