Yesterday I read a lot about “angry” and “irrational” women. I am so tired folks. I am so tired of having to qualify my emotions, of having them used as a weapon against me, of having them thrown back in my face by someone who freely flings the words “feminazi-libtard”at me. I refuse to be ashamed of how I feel and as long as men insinuate that I’m a liar, that my menstruation cycle is clouding my judgement, I will continue to be enraged.
We all know this refrain when it comes to victims of rape and sexual assault. The victim is blamed for what she was wearing, for flirting, for walking down an alley after dark. The woman is always too sexual in some way for the sexually primitive male to resist. The root of the issue is power, not sex. Mediocre men need to feel dominant. Mediocre men rape and beat their wives and partners. But this same logic is true through micro-aggression’s as well. When I was photographing a wedding and the father of the bride decided to infantalize me and play “got your nose”, it was about power. What other reason would a grown man have to go up and grab a complete strangers nose? Would he have done this to a man? Absolutely not.
Catcalling is the ultimate expression of male cowardly dominance and deafness to female complaint. When a man shouts at a woman on the street he obviously doesn’t think she’s going to turn around and give him her number. He likes the red that blossoms on her cheeks. He likes how she fidgets and tries to cover up any bare bit of erogenous skin. When you speak to him and tell him that women don’t like it, that they feel threatened and embarrassed, they dismiss you and laugh at the stick up your ass. It’s just you, they say. Most women like it.
We could make great strides towards equality if we could only get men to believe us. Imagine if you told a catcaller that his advances were not welcome and he actually apologized and changed his behavior. That would demonstrate respect. It would indicate a move beyond a need for patriarchal dominance. But instead, we lack a sense of humor when we aren’t amused by being the butt of a misogynists joke.
I feel because I am human. When I get riled up it’s not because I’m some delicate snowflake, it’s because I have every right to be pissed off. When I cry, it’s not a sign of weakness, it is my catharsis before I continue to trudge through the quagmire of nonsense presented to me each and every day. If you don’t think I’d rather be rereading Harry Potter for the millionth time instead of thick tomes on racism and sexism, you’d be so wrong. But the truth is my armor against masculine condescension is my education. I hope one day to have the eloquence and knowledge to enlighten the greatly misinformed masses, though in the land of celebrated anti-intellectualism this is probably a pipe dream.
And, Jesus, if I feel like I’m not being heard, I can only imagine what women of color have to go through. When a black mother can’t get someone to be a jot sympathetic towards her fears in regards to raising black sons, I can’t help but wonder what is wrong with our culture? Are we so removed from a semblance of empathy that we think people are being selfish and lying about how they worry about their children? They are not lying. I am not lying.
When conservatives fear monger in regards to immigrants and refugees, I wonder why they aren’t focusing on 20 women who are assaulted by an intimate partner ever minute in the United States. Or the 1 in 7 women who are stalked by a partner. Or the 1 in 5 women who are raped, half of which were raped by an acquaintance. We are validly afraid and validly pissed off that our culture does little to confront this issue head on. When a man gets upset when I call him out on his B.S. and I back off, I’m not weak, I’m practicing self-preservation. People are letting emotions dictate their fears and actions. Anyone who thinks a refugee is going to set off a bomb in their quaint little church but doesn’t worry about their neighbor who consistently sports bruises up and down her arms has no interest in fact.
So no, I’m not going to shut up and take it. I’m not going to sit in my corner, happy that I have more than my mothers and grandmothers had, because it’s not enough. I don’t want my daughter to be relegated to her home because she’s too scared to go out at night. It has to be better. And if my anger and my tears rub you the wrong way, well suck it up, buttercup, because we aren’t going away.