This post is not an educational piece, but some needed thought digestion:
I spend much of my time working in the community focused on empowering those around me. As a result, I tend to not take the time needed to do things I would benefit from. Today it felt like too much and I could feel cracks in myself forming. My puppy Appa chewed on the current book I was reading and I’d had enough so I cratted the pup and decided to do something for myself.
First I put some cypress & eucalyptus oil in my oil diffuser. Cypress oil is what trees release when you’re outside which makes hikes so perfect. Eucalyptus oil always smells so fresh. I lit four candles because your girl loves an even number. Then I threw on some aquarium live feeds with light classical on in the background. I made a hot chocolate in a Tears of the Patriarchy (Patriarchy – a system of society or government in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it.) mug and snuggled up underneath some blankets with my older dog Harley Quinn on the couch. A bong rip or 2 and finally I came to you the reader.
I have always loved to read and write. Reading lets you escape this world into one that is guided by your writer. Writing lets you tell your story uninterrupted and lives on past you. Sometimes you just need to read and sometimes you just need to write. Today I need to write.
I am a single cis woman in her late 20’s and I have been dating for a while at this point. I am open to dating anyone I get along with regardless of gender identity. Lately, I find a feeling that I’ve always had getting heavier. I find myself growing increasingly uncomfortable around men. For the purpose of this writing when referencing men I am primarily focusing on cis men, but I have had several interactions with trans men that also perpetuate patriarchy, so I will use men to reference both in this writing.
As a girl growing up in the United States, I had to know how to stay safe. If there were courses they would be called things like:
Fashion Saftey 101: What outfits to wear to what places to keep from being a target
Girl Group Logistics 201: For the Girls on the Go, there’s safety in numbers
Don’t Get Roofied Gen Ed: Basics food & drink protection
Declining Gently Gen Ed: How to be harsh enough to be left alone while being gentle enough to stay alive
Some of my earliest experiences with men were being stared at by strange old men while I played on the playground or being told I was “too pretty to be walking” by a man driving a car when I wasn’t even a teen yet. Even when speaking about boys, I was slapped across the face by a boy my age in a church group because I didn’t want to play the game he did.
Over the years I have had men and boys make me feel unsafe, but this week it just feels heavier. I was out with some friends this week and I had an entire conversation with a security guard that boiled down to him as a light-skinned black man believing the black community is poor because they are lazy. A white man that looks like Ronaldo Fryman cosigned his sentiment and explained to me that Jordans are an expensive brand of shoes and just look at how many shoes poor people own. After explaining that there’s no data that backs up these claims and anecdotal evidence can prove anything you want it to, I cut off the conversation. They decided I was wrong because I didn’t want to talk anymore. Fryboy was also very surprised there were consequences to his actions when I told him he couldn’t hang out with the group of brown and black people I was with after his hot take.
Then in the same week, I was at a friend’s party and a black man started to explain to me that while we all know about patriarchy we don’t talk enough about its opposite misandry (misandry – dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against men). I explained that much like racism, while an oppressed group can dislike an oppressing group, we don’t have the systematic power for it to equate to systematic oppression. After that, a white man in the room started yelling “Equal Rights Equal Fights.” I said fighting anyone is assault, you aren’t supposed to hit anyone. The white guy explains that if a woman hits him he’s going to hit them back. That’s self-defense I said. Then at some point, the black man yelled out that I was triggered.
I don’t mind talking ideas, but what is unsettling to me about this interaction is that men are so willing to tell us they want to assault women. What about me wanting to get equal pay makes you want to hit me? What about me wanting to rights to my own body makes you want to hit me? What about me speaking my mind makes you feel like you want to hit me? Why is the first thing you think of when we talk about gender equality violence?
It makes me want to stay at home. I am tired. As a woman in America, I constantly feel like my body is on the line. I have to monitor what I wear, where I go, who knows where I am, how I approach men, etc just to make sure I don’t get sexually assaulted, kidnapped, or murdered. Then I go to bars and have to defend my ideas with the eloquence of the goddamn president because if I don’t I get laughed away by men who don’t know an ounce of what I do. I am pretty and men have shown me time and time again that their interest is my body and not my mind, safety, or feelings.
I was only able to find the root of what I am feeling because of the man I was in love with. I loved a man for 2 years and what I miss the most was how I felt genuinely safe in his presence. Someone I knew would never harm me or allow anyone else to harm me physically. While the relationship didn’t work out I can now identify what I’m not feeling from many men around me.
I don’t feel safe with the men who ‘Devil’s Advocate’ Debate me at bars. I don’t feel safe with men who want to be my friend with secret intentions. I don’t feel safe with racist ideations. I don’t feel safe with men who voice wanting to hit women. I don’t feel safe with men who want to take my rights away. Does abortion really equate to making women feel unsafe? Hell yes. Men who are comfortable taking abortion rights away from women are men comfortable with women dying because men can’t mind their business on women’s healthcare.
I think about all the times men have made me uncomfortable. Sometimes it’s not taking a no as an answer. Sometimes it’s showing up places they know I will be unannounced, this one has happened at least 3 times. Sometimes it’s actual assault.
I don’t want women and girls to have to continue to live like this. We have to keep moving forward even if it’s slow and exhausting. I know that my mug is meant to be cute and funny, I am drinking tears from men of the patriarch, but now it kind of mocks me from the table thinking about all the tears I cried at the very groupey hands of the patriarchy.