Hi. Just a reminder about the disclaimer I put in my first blog: I believe in transparency and honesty so I’m going to try not to filter myself much in these blog posts. With that said, I would like to ask three requests of you, the reader. One – please know that I acknowledge that I am still learning. My blog posts are going to largely be me describing the world as I see them. It will always be colored by the life I have lived so far. I think I have some pretty cool ideas sometimes and I also know that there may be some which I later look back on and think differently about after some time has passed. Some of these ideas will be half baked. Just a little secret – we’re all on a blog schedule that has already been set through next July so sometimes I might be putting hands to keyboard before I feel like the concept is solid in my mind. (If you know me, you know this is good, or else I would never post anything #PerfectionistLyfe).Things & perspectives change and that’s cool. Two – Please receive my words with grace. I ask that you try to give me the benefit of the doubt. Try on my thoughts, try to stand in my shoes when you read it, then form an opinion if you want. You don’t have to agree with my thoughts and feelings, but please try to lend some grace. Three – If I rub you wrong (or right really) in any kind of way and you want to chat about it, please find me on social media and let’s chat about it! Okay, now on to the real meat of the post. J
The following blog is rated RL – Real Life – for hard language and sexual content. Some material may not be suitable for children.
How am I too much and not enough at the same time? <– An actual question I asked myself despairingly in my journal. My mind is in a pretty pro-women place right now. I’m feeling pretty short-tempered no-nonsense having with men at the moment. I know this is an emotional reaction and I can’t really blame myself. In the past couple weeks I’ve had:
- A man jerk off while talking to me face-to-face while he leaned on my car and I froze trying to think how to get out of this parking lot. Biting his lip and all…
- My last few runs down by the river have been interrupted by whistles or shouts at me
- A man next to me on the bus stares hungrily at the girl’s legs in her skirt. Says to another man “I know you’re old man, but you gotta tell me you see that. Mmm.” The decent man says “I don’t objectify women like that” and stares him down. Nasty man goes on to say “Ah man, they make Viagra, you should try it. Dammmn” as he peers back at her and then follows her off the bus. Decent guy watches him and follows too.
- A girl yells for help outside of my house. I look out the window and a man is pulling her hair and man-handling her. We go outside and offer her to come inside our house while she waits for her Uber. She says no, she’s okay. The man runs away. She follows him. We don’t know what else to do.
- A man at the bar asked me what I do. I told him proudly that I graduated from college a couple years ago and have been working in HR and non-profit sector. His response to that was “Oh, do you have any desires that you didn’t satisfy while you were in college?” [He raises his eyebrows suggestively]
After that last instance, the one at the bar, I left the bar with a group of my female friends. Upon exiting I yelled “Ughhhh I fucking hate men!” My girl friends told me “Shhh!” On top of all of this, it’s my one year anniversary with the time I was trapped at a coffee shop with a man’s hand on my leg and I didn’t know how to make him go away.
Following these interactions that directly involve me and a man, I have been talking with various friends and family about them. People close to me are always stunned. Why didn’t you say no? Why didn’t you physically remove his hands from your body? Why didn’t you make a scene? Well, so many reasons. Partially because of my flight, fight, or freeze reaction. Partially because I’m stunned. Partially because I’m a relatively quiet person and making a scene isn’t something I’ve practiced. Partially because I’m trying not to make the man feel rejected because A) I feel bad and B) I know that when men feel rejected they often resort to anger and violence and I fear their response and my inability to physically protect myself. Partially because I fear being called a radical, or a crazy feminist, or a girl looking for attention. Partially because, historically, when I do get angry I’m told to Shh!
Why can I not be angry and upset?? I’m too angry, they say. Too divisive. Too extreme. Not positive enough- look at the silver lining- don’t cuss. At the same time, a close friend has recently suggested that maybe I look too nice and sweet. She may be right. I’m thinking I need to look more mean and rough to dissuade people from approaching me for these things. I’m just really confused. People tell me to get it together when I’m angry and ready to yell. When I’m nice, docile, and polite then I “bring it on myself.” I’m too much when I want to bring attention to this disgusting and disrespectful conduct. I’m not enough when I try to handle it politely. I love to smile when I feel it. It keeps my happiness alive and feels brighter, but if I do then I make myself a target. I’m learning that there are places where I can smile, where I should smile even. And there are places when I’m better off to be tight lipped and straight faced. Get those confused though, and you might be either a radical or a girl who asks for that shitty kind of attention. The kind of shitty attention that takes you away from the interesting book you’re reading, the gratitude you’re feeling, the intriguing business idea you’re mentally working, the meditative run you’re enjoying, the fun reunion with your friends. Sure, you nasty f***ing men. Take me away from all of that. It wasn’t important anyway. Your pursuit of sexual satisfaction and you’re rights are more important than my freedom and becoming the person I was meant to be. Why would I get angry? Silly girl. Reactive feminist. (Re-read that paragraph in sarcastic tone if you didn’t already).
I guess I’m going to commit to a side here. If being angry at these approaches makes me a radical liberal or radical feminist or an extremist, then cool. Label me. I don’t love labels, but more so I hate that fear of misconduct or being rude has repeatedly made me freeze in potentially dangerous situations. This weekend, our ESC crew had shared formation with the Catholic and Lutheran service corps. We studied Letter from Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King Jr which he wrote in 1963 in regards to Civil Rights. MLK Jr. put a couple similar sentiments more eloquently “But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love?:…… Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice?”
“…but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action.”
“Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive.”
I want to wrap this up with a conclusion, but honestly I’m not sure what it should be. I would like to end this by sounding resolved with a plan of action, but to be honest this won’t be ending any time soon. I’ll be continuing to try to maneuver and navigate this world that is my reality. So I guess I will end with some thanks, some hopes, and some quotes.
- “In this wasteland where I’m living, there’s a crack in the door filled with light” – Needtobreathe
- Thanks to you bystanders and co-commiserators who have intervened and helped me and many other women stay safe. Many of you have been men and I am so grateful. Keep it up. Thanks to those of you who reinforce the beliefs that I don’t have to endure sexual harassment and assault. Thanks to those of you who believe me when I tell you about my experiences. And thanks to those of you who will help me tell these nasties to f*** off when they pursue me. You can count on me for the reverse.
- “Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.”- Marie Sheer, 1986
- “There will just be reputation.” – Taylor Swift
- “Liberation is a contagious project.” – Rebecca Solnit
- In a convoluted way, I am thankful for these interactions and the emotions it has stirred because it has help me become more convicted my pursuit of social justice and freedom. I don’t want to be oppressed. And I don’t want you to be either.