On women in the world
I don’t write about social or political issues in this blog, or on twitter, or on my tumblr. Not because I don’t have views or opinions, but because this is not a place where I want to discuss them. If I wanted to have those discussions, I’d create a space for them.
I also don’t do it because I don’t have the wherewithal to be angry all the time, or horrified, or hurt. I had my time where I fought for things I believed in against the wall of ignorance and bigotry: I had the energy for all that negativity, for the fighting once. Not any more.
Sometimes I despair over how the world is. My despair is a reason I choose not to watch the news, not to read current affairs. It is a kind of self protection, and I justify it by saying that unless I am going to DO something about it, my knowing about terribleness in the world doesn’t help anyone in any appreciable way. My hand wringing and upset and anger and sadness does not help anyone else one tiny little bit. It just makes me feel bad with no benefit to anyone.
I’m not going to start talking about these topics, but I want to say this in response to the valuable and important discussions that have arisen over a young man who left behind angry hateful words and six dead bodies.
Not all men are bad people, everyone knows that. But all women carry a level of fear for their safety when they walk around in the world because they don’t know which man *might* be one of those. We can’t tell who might get violent if they are rejected, or who will escalate into verbal abuse if they are ignored, or who thinks that grabbing at a woman because she smiled at him is reasonable behaviour, or who is going to go on the attack just because.
I don’t know any women who have not been sexually assaulted. This is shocking to me, even as I say it.
I have been sexually assaulted three times. And when I say that, I am not including the times I have been harassed or touched or groped in bars or on transport or at parties because I don’t even keep track of that stuff. Hundreds of times? I don’t even know.
Once I was sexually assaulted by two ‘friends’ who started out ‘mucking about’ which escalated into them trying to get my clothes off. I was 15 and they didn’t stop until I screamed. Once by a stranger at a club who cornered me in the bathroom and hissed “Are ya scared, are ya scared?” into my face as he held me up against the wall. “No”, I said because I refused to give him the satisfaction. I was terrified. Once it was a ludicrous unbelievable groping by a man who was being paid for his service and expertise and I couldn’t even believe it happened.
When some strange man harasses me in some way, I studiously ignore him and hope he goes away. A polite response might encourage him, a rejection might anger him, a rude reply might end up with him smacking me. Even *ignoring* him isn’t safe because “Think you’re too good for me, you fucking bitch?!”
This is the society that we have built and it sickens me every time I hear yet another story where we try to pretend that anger and hatred and entitlement towards a woman by a man is a once-off, an anomaly, and not part of the ugliness that we have carefully nurtured and strengthened systematically and from the ground up.
I am saddened and I despair and it makes me want to never leave the house again.
I won’t write about this again, and I probably don’t have the spoons to reply to comments. I just wanted to say it out loud. I don’t even know why.
Maybe because it hurts me and I don’t know where to put it.