I’m not exactly a practicing feminist. I don’t go to rally’s and I haven’t lobbied for anything outside of talking with the men and boys in my life about respecting women and girls. I am all for protecting women and pointing out the flaws in our culture that can make our lives miserable. I’ve never marched for the cause, but that’s about to change.
I was in the hospital briefly when I was first becoming ill with Lyme Disease. I left work that night and went to the emergency room. I had been self diagnosing and medicating for awhile before I went to ask for help. My supervisor that night actually made me leave.
I spent almost 10 hours in the ER at the hospital. I left around 4 a.m. As I was driving home, I took a different route than I needed to because I was starving and I thought I could swing through the 24 hour drive-thru at Taco Bell. Wouldn’t you know it, they were closed that night for a construction project that closed the kitchen.
I drove north up a fairly well traveled city street and came to a stop at the light next to an older model, black Ford Explorer that was sitting in the turn lane. It was a nice night and I had my windows down to get some air. The second that I drove up next to that Explorer, I sensed that I was in trouble.
The man in the passenger seat was drunk or at least appeared to be. He started talking to me. At first it was all “Hey pretty lady” and “Hey baby”. I ignored him and kept watching the light. He didn’t like being ignored and started making some really sexual and vulgar remarks that I won’t repeat here.
At that point, I hit the button and just rolled up the window without even looking over at him. He didn’t like this and the situation was escalating. He was getting angry, but I continued to ignore him. If he got out of the vehicle, I would just drive away.
He started screaming a barrage of obscenities at me and called me some horrible names. Use your imagination. He then threw a full can of a Monster Energy drink at my car . Of course he waited until the green turn arrow appeared before he did this and then drove off on a side street into the darkness.
Looking back, I should have just driven through the light before it even got this far. If I had been stopped, I would have been more than happy to explain why I ran the light. I also have the benefit of being in the city where I work as a dispatcher and all of the police officers know me. As a matter of fact, when I shared this story on Facebook, I got in trouble for not calling anyone.
It was pointless and I knew this. I didn’t bother with a plate number when I had the chance. Once he turned the corner, he entered into the neighboring city’s jurisdiction anyway. They would never have caught up with them. It would have been a waste of time and I really just wanted to go home.
There was no damage to my car. Thankfully.
This incident upset me. The more that I thought about it, the angrier I got. I realized that the man felt entitled to talk to me like that. As a matter of fact, he felt so entitled that he flew into a rage because I didn’t give him what he wanted, that he technically acted out with violence.
That’s just one story.
What amazes me, and maybe it shouldn’t, is that every single one of my female friends has a sexual assault story of some kind. Not just harassment or cat calling on the street, a sexual assault. A lot of them happened when we were younger. Some in our teens while others happened in college and quite a few as adults.
I have a friend who simply gave into a male acquaintance and his advances to where she had sex with him because she didn’t want to get hurt and she knew he would just leave when it was done.
She didn’t want to get hurt and knew that he would leave when it was done.
She spent the following days in a fog. She didn’t get out of bed until late in the afternoon the following day. Her thoughts spun in all directions. She came up with reasons to argue that it wasn’t rape. She had put herself in the position that got her into trouble. She did it to herself.
Even though she said no over and over and then said “please don’t”. Then she tried to convince herself that she liked it and participated. Even though she didn’t want to fight and get hurt and she knew he would leave.
Then she remembered, she drove him to her house in her own car to show him some of her art work. What she thought was innocent enough, was apparently taken the wrong way. Misconstrued. An open invitation to grab her and kiss her before the front door was even closed. What she thought would be a short visit, ended up with a man on top of her taking off her panties.
She didn’t report it. He was a local public figure that everyone loved. Everyone. Again, she told herself, she put herself into the position to get herself in trouble. He was bigger than her, more powerful. Everyone had seen them leaving together. No one would see her side and he would be made out to be the victim.
What did she think was going to happen?
She certainly didn’t expect to be assaulted or to spend the next three weeks in a panic over being pregnant because he didn’t wear a condom. The thoughts about having an abortion to terminate a possible pregnancy swirled through her mind. The thought of making an appointment the following week to be tested for STD’s didn’t cross her mind.
This story has never even passed through her lips. She has never even told a soul. It all came out in an essay that she wrote that felt more like a confession. While she isn’t going to harm herself physically, the emotional toll and the shame she feels spilled out all over the pages. Repeating several times that he doesn’t wear underwear and it isn’t circumcised. It, because she can’t say penis.
When she confronted him two days later and told him that she wanted to terminate the friendship, he turned the tables on her. He told her that the sex was consensual and that he needed affection and he could tell that she did too and that she shouldn’t feel embarrassed, ashamed or regretful.
Now she battles with herself about not reporting it. Instead, she blames herself knowing that what’s worse, this man is walking around free to do this to someone else. Silence. The evidence is gone. All that is left is the recollection and an essay about the night that it happened. Part of her is convinced that this is her fault and that she has to accept responsibility for it.
So. When I told the story about the man at the stop light. There was a lot of rage expressed from my friends. The officers were upset that I didn’t tell them about it right then or bother to call the police. Others made comments about me carrying a fire arm. Which is true but you can’t go around waving your gun at people.
What struck me the most was a question posed to me by a female friend.
“What were you doing out that late?”
What seems like an innocent question has an accusatory undertone. What was suggested through that question was that it was my fault it happened because I was out so late. I deserved for this person to verbally abuse me and throw a can of Monster Energy drink at me because I wouldn’t acknowledge him or the things that he was saying to me. I clearly had it coming for being out past a reasonable hour.
This is a problem in our culture. This is a problem with our thinking.
I was at the gym this past week and this random male stranger walked up to me. I may or may not have seen him around. When I go to the gym, I go there to work and not make friends. I am there for a reason and none of it has anything to do with mingling or flirting with the opposite sex.
This man passes me and says “You’d be pretty if you’d smile,”
Instead of saying anything, I continued what I was doing. I didn’t need to say a word and the look on my face said it all for me. This was apparently an invitation to continue our conversation. He stopped and said:
“Why do you have to be so mean?”
Without even thinking about it I responded.
“I would rather be a mean ol’ bitch than an easy ol’ broad,”
I didn’t even wait for a response I stopped what I was doing and walked away. Before you argue that he was just trying to be nice, he wasn’t. Telling a woman to smile is a direct order and implication of ownership. Implying that she isn’t pretty is rude and none of your concern.
Sadly, it takes being rude or in my case “bitchy” to someone to get them to knock it off or cease the advances. I don’t know how many times I have been married or gay, just to get someone to leave me alone because the word “No” wasn’t good enough for them.
Last year at Christmas time, I was standing in line at Kohl’s Department Store when I heard a click and saw the flash from a cell phone camera. I turned around and caught a guy who, judging by the look on his face, was mortified for just getting caught. According to the teenager behind him he “Just took a picture of your ass.”
His response for this? “I’m sorry, I thought the flash was off.”
It’s a fact that most women are consciously aware of the dangers around them, and spend the majority of their time keeping themselves safe. We really do go about our days putting forth the effort to avoid being attacked, raped etc. While most of us don’t dwell or live in debilitating fear, it is something that we have become accustomed to as females. It’s carved into our being.
I don’t hate men. Not even close. I love men. I am however, frustrated where we’ve come as a society. I will also say that women can be as guilty as men. Different cultures have different customs or ideas on how to treat women and what their roles are. We consider ourselves to be so advanced from other cultures yet we constantly blame victims and continue to allow bad behavior.
It starts with us as adults and parents to teach our girls and boys what is right and wrong. I could go on and on about this topic, but I am not going to. It’s a never ending discussion and a hot button for a lot of people. It’s a trigger for some of us.
This makes me angry..