#YesAllWomen

I hate that I have to write this post, but I cannot refrain any longer.

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As #YesAllWomen has been taking off on Twitter, first I just started retweeting some of the more poignant posts, to share my support for the writers. Yes, I get it: “not all men.” But please understand, while “not all men” are monsters, “yes, all women” have been harassed or attacked or taught to avoid harassment or attacks.

And several times, various male friends have tried to explain to me that women just don’t understand how difficult it is to deal with male hormones and their sexual impulses and all the pain they endure from frustrated sexual urges. On one hand, I get how vulnerable he feels about admitting to me (or any woman) the physical pain endured during puberty and adulthood when aroused. I get it. This isn’t something you want to admit, that you feel pain, that you feel weak, that you endure embarrassment.

But let me share something with you on a completely different topic. A teen was having trouble not just eating everything in sight. And he blurted out to me, “You don’t understand! I have ACTUAL PHYSICAL pain!” And I had to look at him and say, “Yes. Everyone does. That’s called hunger. And you are NOT going to die if you wait one more hour until dinner. You don’t get to eat anything you want just because you *physically feel hunger.*”

Men, please take this to heart. When violent misogynists (like the monster from the killings in Isla Vista at UCSB) declare that it’s “just not fair” that women are teasing him with their sexuality, and complain because of “involuntary celibacy” (good grief, these men have coined the word “incel” to whine about their sexual frustration), they are taking the *physical pain of hunger* to a new level. Dude. You’re hungry. We get it. But you don’t get to shoot up a restaurant because you’re hungry. You don’t get to demand women’s intimacy because you’re lustful.

And don’t give me some crap about how “society made him sick” with all the marketing images, media, and pornography. You don’t get to blame anyone else because you willingly and consciously indulge a petulant, childish behavior and use it for an excuse to lash out with hatred and anger.

No. One. Owes. You. Sex.

No one.

You want to know how to be in a trusted relationship? You want to know how to find intimacy? Grow the hell up and be mature. Stop throwing temper tantrums worthy of the most obvious two-year-old. You’re not two years old.

I wrote on twitter earlier today two specific posts:

* Note to the men in my life whom I trust, thank you for being trustworthy and not killers. I recognize you. I trust you.

* Problem is when someone says, “But I’m a nice guy!” you need to remember that the killers say that, too. So that happened.

Occasionally, I have to go out of my way to comfort the men in my life who are not killers. And while I have trusted men in my life, there’s a small inner part of me that’s rolling my eyes. I cannot believe you’re looking for comfort because women have been hurt by men and *you* aren’t automatically trusted.

There’s an analogy going around on #YesAllWomen — Here’s a bowl of M&Ms. 10% of them have been poisoned, but we won’t tell you which ones. Go ahead. Have an M&M. Not all of them are poisoned.

The internet has make trolling more obvious and more prevalent, with the ease of anonymous threats, comments, and harassment. Women who speak up (about, good grief, ANYTHING) are threatened with rape and violence and death. Then they are tracked down and harassed by phone and in person. And some have actually died. Let me say that again:

WOMEN ARE DYING.

Because *some* men are violent misogynists who think that women *owe* them something, are only supposed to be *used* by men, who must conform to a specific body shape and type, who are shamed if they are too fat or too thin, who are labeled sluts if they *do* conform to the body ideal….

Women Are Dying.

And #YesAllWomen are suffering because of it.

There’s this notion that men could learn to be a “Pickup Artist” (PUA) and if they know how to “play the game” correctly, the prize is that you “win” sex from a woman. Women, *personally* as humans, aren’t even the prize in this game. Fucking a woman is the prize. The man acts upon an object, then the man wins. The woman isn’t even a person in this philosophy.

This is what the violent misogynist *chooses* to believe and act on.

And because of this, I personally can cite the following:

* As a middle-school girl, a man in a car stopped alongside me while I was on my bike, to show me that he was not wearing pants and he was masturbating while watching me ride my bike.

* I was taught how to walk with my car keys in my fist, so that I could fight back if/when I was attacked.

* I was told that I should “feel complimented” if men catcall me on the street.

* Men told me that if I “started something” with them, I would be obligated “to finish” them because it wasn’t fair if I got them aroused.

* On the dance floor in college, strangers would grind their pelvis against me, to “prove” that they were hard and then would attempt to get me to “relieve” them because it was my fault they were aroused. (It’s no wonder I hate going clubbing or dancing now. I hate party crowds and avoid them at all costs now.)

* I had one dating relationship in which he came home angry about something at work. He was so angry that he wanted to have rough sex because of it. I “gave in” because I thought if he calmed down, then he wouldn’t be angry at me and therefore I wouldn’t run the risk of being raped.

And I feel fortunate that I wasn’t molested or raped as a child, or molested worse than these stories above.

How sick is it that I have to FEEL LUCKY IT HASN’T BEEN WORSE. Yet. There’s always the risk that *worse* is just around the corner. It could be when I’m traveling alone–whether driving or on public transit. It could be when I’m out with friends and get trapped by someone’s forcible attention. Or it could be that I’m just out and about and a stranger decides to go ballistic like the IV shooter.

I want to run a marathon someday. To be honest, I haven’t started training because I am terrified of running alone in public.

And while I have the “advantage” of being “overweight” by society’s standards–so I am actually harassed sometimes less frequently than my thinner sisters–there are some violent misogynists who attack fatter women *more* because they feel like we are worth less than our thinner sisters. Since we *don’t* meet their “ideal,” then we’re not just “sluts,” we are called “fat sluts.” And some days I have to wonder why I would ever want to conform to the “society ideal” for body size, because I know that I would just *increase* the frequency of stranger advances and unwanted attention.

#YesAllWomen have been harassed. All of us. We *all* know how dangerous it is to be a woman nowadays.

And no, I will *not* “blame society” for making men “sick.” Men who are violent made their own choices. They never bothered to try to become mature and understanding and patient and *HUMAN.* So I will hold each of them personally responsible for being poisoned.

I have no idea how to “fix” society. I only know how to individually communicate with the women and men in my life. And I will continue to encourage people to grow up, become more mature, think before you act, think about someone else, be respectful, be patient, be considerate, learn to communicate, learn to listen.

And if you ask a yes/no question? BE PREPARED THAT NO IS AN ACCEPTABLE ANSWER. Because it doesn’t matter if you’re asking, “May I sit with you?” or “May I kiss you?” or “May I buy you a drink?” If someone is not interested, respect their answer. Walk away if they say no. Teach your children this. Model this behavior in society. Expect this behavior from the people around you. Ask permission, don’t ask for forgiveness.

Live your own life in a respectful fashion. Don’t expect anyone to hand you anything. If you develop friendships, care for your friends. This garbage that there is a “friend zone” that is a lesser “prize” and derogatory is complete nonsense. No one owes you intimacy. Friends should be treasured. If we’ve granted you friend-status, that is actually a prize. Because we don’t have to be your friend. We don’t have to trust you. If we choose to trust you as a friend, maybe you are a nice guy. Now act like it.

Because #YesAllWomen have been betrayed. Don’t be that guy.


Note: I’m overwhelmed with how many people have read and shared this post, and likewise feel compelled to reply. However, comments are moderated. Not every comment will be approved. This is my blog and my safe space. I get to decide what posts.

20 thoughts on “#YesAllWomen

  1. D'vorah says:

    I adore you for wording this in ways that — I deeply hope — will come across to *actual nice guys*, why we think they’re nice guys, and what they can do to encourage, earn, and then not F up that trust.

  2. 3panman says:

    I… wow. I knew things were often rough for women, but… wow. I don’t think I ever realized how far things went. Thank you for sharing, Cat. That was awfully brave. And I hate that it had to be brave.

  3. Nathan says:

    Yes. And, as a man, to other men who are not monsters:

    Do you feel hurt that women don’t trust you because of your reproductive equipment? It’s not like you’ve ever done something to earn that distrust? Maybe so, and perhaps you do have a right to be angry. You have a right to be angry with that frat-boy roommate you had who talked about his techniques for scoring. You have a right to be angry at that guy you work with who nudges you when you’re having lunch and gestures with his eyebrows at a woman who just entered the building. And you have a right to be angry with yourself for every time you took the easy route and said nothing, and looked down in shame for your gender, rather than shutting him down, and shaming him for his behavior. I know I am. I regret every opportunity I missed, through life, to make other men aware that they are being judged when they objectify women, that their behavior is not acceptable when it’s “just us guys” any more than it is in mixed company. I wish I could stamp a scarlet ‘M’ on the forehead of every acquaintance that has revealed himself to me as a misogynist. I wish there was a way to write, in twenty foot tall flaming letters, a warning to all women that this is what this man says when he thinks it’s “just us guys”.

    Because part of the answer to the question, “how do we fix it” is, for those of us who happen to be male, “be your brothers’ keeper”. Not because women can’t take care of themselves, but because, by association, we have accrued a share of the guilt, and we all bear a part of the shame, and of the burden of fixing it.

  4. barb says:

    #yesallwomen Hugs and we are here. It is sad we are here to suffer in silence. Thank you for sharing your story.

  5. Amy Luna says:

    I have a friend who is a Marine veteran who served in Iraq. He was telling me how when he got to Iraq, the people welcomed him like a liberator and he enjoyed meeting and helping everyone he met. As time went on, and the “insurgency” grew, he saw his friends die from child suicide bombers, pretending to be friendly. After that, he didn’t know who to trust. Anyone being friendly was looked at suspiciously. He trusted no one. As he shared with me his story and his pain, he had my full attention. But something was gnawing at the back of my mind. What he was describing felt strangely familiar. That was when I realized THAT’S HOW ALL WOMEN THINK ABOUT MEN.

  6. Mimi says:

    I have no desire for this post to be published, but you may at your discretion, if you so choose. I just wanted to say Thank you so much. You have saved a little of my piece of mind. You know how when someone terrorizes an airport, all airports are actually safer after, because they crack down on security? In the wake of this tragedy, I have felt increasingly unsafe. Because out of the woodwork have come the kinds of men I have dreaded since I was nine. They raise their hands and say “I am an emotional and psychological terrorist. I have a RIGHT to be. And I have no intention of stopping”. No one does anything. I’ve been so overwhelmed by all of this media content around these dynamics that we as human beings live with and participate in daily. And I couldn’t even imagine leaving my house today. Your post has articulated some of what I have been trying to express. It has given me hope that, no, I am not “crazy” for desiring to be seen as a human being, and no, I am not alone. Thank you.

  7. Marion says:

    “Society did not *make* men *sick*”

    Another way to think about this is, what is male society made up of? Individual men. So if male society made these sick people what they are, who is responsible? Every individual man. I think Nathan made this point more eloquently than I could, though.

    Why should I need to be “brave” to travel across Europe by myself? Many people told me this while I was abroad. Nobody said it to the guys who were travelling by themselves.

    Thank you, Cat, for a well-stated post.

  8. Marie de Womwell Tovaas says:

    I have been thinking about this entire situation a lot recently because of the controversy that happened at a Pagan/Wiccan conference in Northern California recently. Zuzanna Budapest, the leader of the Dianic (feminist) Wiccans planned to hold a Women’s Circle at the event.

    The problems started when she stated that it was for women only, not because it excluded men, but because it was exclusively for women born women, no one who considered themselves a woman (or “female”) but who were born male could attend. This caused an uproar among the LBGT (?) and non-Dianic politically correct people who feel that if someone says “I’m a woman” then no matter what their configuration is, they are what the say they are.

    What these people are not recognizing is the trust issue Cat describes above. Just because someone says they are something doesn’t mean they are not lying to get past a woman’s defenses. A Dianic Wiccan Circle is a safe place, a place where a woman can relax and be free and, I’m sorry to say, Y chromosomes and penises destroy that environment. It’s easier to simply eliminate them than to have that nagging fear in the back of your mind that this may simply be an elaborate ruse.

    That’s how much fear and distrust our whole experience has brought us women to. Overly paranoid? Maybe. Politically incorrect, definitely, but not necessarily unjustified. And that, my friends, is horribly sad. I look forward to the day when something that has to be this extreme is no longer necessary. (My own Dianic branch is not quite so exclusive, thank the Goddess!)

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