#YesAllWomen

I’m usually pretty slow on the uptake when it comes to social media trends.  And current events.  And especially social media trends based on current events.  So, it’s a little strange for me to step into the realm of posting about a trending topic.  Bear with me.

If you’ve missed it – first off don’t feel bad, I almost did, too – you need to have a look.  After a young man killed nine people (at the last count I was able to find) and then himself, apparently it came out that he blamed women and their rejection of him for his actions.  And most of the responses are focusing on the fact that he was mentally ill.  But the fact of the matter is most men do expect for women to pay attention to them, to be flattered by their attention, and to put out because of a, b, or c.  And when they don’t get it, the least you can expect is name-calling.  Stupid bitch.  Tease.  Ungrateful cunt.  These are ones I have heard.  And you know what’s sad?  There are people who will read that, knowing what I look like, and roll their eyes because I’m obviously too ugly for men to want me and I should be grateful one would give me the time of day.

And that’s the point.  Most women, if not, have had a point in their life when they were scared because they were a woman alone.  Because we are taught from childhood that we must be vigilant and that we have responsibility of protecting ourselves.  Go read some of the tweets, I’m serious.  Because there are thousands of them.  And, yeah, a lot of them sound like a bit of repeating.  Because so many women experience this.  Even me.

I tell people when we get into these discussions, “I’m 6’1″ and big, so I’ve never been sexually assaulted.”  Look at that statement.  I didn’t even realize until today.  The thing I state absently is a perfect example of what this – and the feminist movement in general is talking about.  We live in a culture where I have to explain why I’ve never been assaulted, because it’s assumed that it’s going to happen and if it hasn’t, you have to explain it to everyone else.  Yes, I’m 6’1″ and big.  But I’ve been assaulted by a guy because he was bigger than I was and I didn’t do what he wanted me to.  I was in 7th grade and it was the school bus.  A FULL school bus.  And no one helped me.  I was attacked for defending my friend, who he attacked first.

When it came before the principal, my friend and I found ourselves having to defend ourselves.  “So, I’ve talked to some of the other students on your bus and they say you and your friend provoked the attack because you wouldn’t give him your seat.”  Yes, that was said to my friend and I, our parents in the room with us, by the principal.  We were every bit as on trial as the guy that attacked us, even though every other student that had been spoken to attested to the fact that the only fighting my friend and I did consisted of trying to stop him from choking us.

I walked away from that experience with a lot of negative feelings – towards my attacker, towards my school, towards my peers, and towards the principal.  You see, he was suspended from the bus for a few weeks, but nothing else was done because we “provoked the attack”.  My attacker’s parents did more to see to my safety and my feeling of safety.  His father sat with me, my friend, and our parents and told us that if we wanted our attacker to go to jail, he would take him down and file the paperwork himself.  Because he recognized that what happened was wrong and he made sure his son knew it was wrong.

But I learned that even I can be weak.  That even I can be hurt by a guy that’s bigger than I am.  And that when it does finally happen, I will receive as much blame as he will.  It got to the point where I would say things like “I’ve never been assaulted, but it’s because I’m big.”  The truth is I’ve never been sexually assaulted – and yes, my size probably does have a lot to do with it, along with all the things girls are taught from a young age on how to protect themselves.  But I have been assaulted.  And then taught to minimize it because I “provoked” him.  By the way, would you like to know what we did to provoke him?  We sat in the seat he wanted to sit in…before he got on the bus.  And yes, we had to defend the fact that we sat in that seat.  Mostly because he was such a “good guy”, we had to have done something to deserve it.

We need #YesAllWomen because if you are a woman who has never been afraid, I bet you are a minority.  More so, I can guarantee you know at least one woman who has been assaulted for the simple fact that she was a woman who did something to displease a man.  Want to know something even more frightening?  I can very nearly guarantee that you know a woman who was raped or sexually assaulted.  #YesAllWomen is good for women, because it helps connect women and let them know they aren’t alone.  And it’s good for men, because how can they learn if we don’t teach them?  Even my own beloved Sir Joshimus, who is one of the most amazing men on the face of this earth, is bad about telling misogynistic jokes and thinking they are no big deal.  (yes, we’re working on that)  No, this won’t solve the problem, but it will damn sure help, even if the only people who are impacted are the people who have been sharing that tag this weekend.

 

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