OK, I’m going to sound like an angry woman here again — mostly because I am angry.
I wasn’t at the keyboard five minutes this morning before I saw a post that said, “not all men.”
Well, duh. I never said it was. I told the man this sounded a bit like “all lives matter,” and he set about mansplaining to me why my feelings aren’t valid.
Let me survivor-splain why they are.
I know not all men. I’m married to one who gets it. I have a ton of man friends who get it.
The problem is, it’s enough men.
The problem is it’s systemic.
The real problem is, we never know which men.
See, not all men harass women, but pretty much every single woman on the planet has been harassed, attacked, raped, abused, molested, paid less, dismissed, interrupted … All of us.
And then we’re blamed.
Am I safe getting into that elevator with the man alone?
What about the man walking behind me in the mall parking lot? Is he going to grab me?
If I stop into a bar and have a drink, who’s going to think I’m there for him?
Ask me all the reasons I quit wearing heels as a young woman. Among the reasons are the fact that I can’t run as fast in heels as I can in flats, and the fact that some men are going to think it’s a come-hither thing.
This is not paranoia. This is as real as it gets. I know because I have lived it.
I know I’ve avoided being attacked at least once by being prepared. Back in the early 1980s, three men approached me one morning while I was walking in Paterson, NJ. I had my keys and the blade of a small knife sticking out through my clenched fingers. They walked past me. But I wasn’t in the office 10 minutes when I heard a woman walking alone in the same place I was had been attacked just a minute after I passed by. They stabbed her and stole her purse. Had I not shown I was willing to fight, I would have been the one attacked.
If you’re a man, tell me what measures you take every day to protect yourself.
I mean every day.
Every. Damn. Day.
Let me give you an example: Last night I was driving home from Raleigh. It’s a four-hour drive, and about three hours into it, I had to pee something fierce. There was no way I was going to make it home, so I stopped at a rest area.
It was 10 o’clock at night and the rest area was all but deserted. There was one other car, and a lone man standing outside the building, smoking a cigarette.
I stayed in my locked car, debating whether I should just pee in the car and get it cleaned later. Fortunately, another car with two people in it came along.
I got out and went into the rest room, keys jutting out between my fingers in case I had to gouge an attacker.
So tell me, Mr Not-all-men, have you ever had to even think about doing that?
And if someone did attack you, have you not reported because you know you’ll be blamed for your own attack?
Has anyone ever told you a woman who was raped somehow asked for it?
I’ve heard it again and again.
Remember when the Kennedy kid was accused of rape? One of the reasons the young woman was blamed for her own rape was because she took off her pantyhose to walk on the beach. So tell me, if you’re going to walk on the beach barefoot, doesn’t that involve taking your socks off?
But she was at a bar.
So was he.
But she had a drink.
So did he.
But she was dressed up.
So, that means you get to have your way with her? Her attire is a personal invitation for you to screw her? I’ll bet that’s not what she thought when she was getting dressed.
How about the politicians who say educating females will get rid of rape? Know what they’re really saying? It’s our own fault for being prick teasers. And you know what? Our very existence makes us prick teasers.
So, don’t tell me not-all-men. I know that.
Instead, roll up your sleeves and stand with me.
Listen to me. I know more about this than you do. Every woman does.
If you do that, you never have to tell me not-all-men. If you have to say it and then you feel you have to mansplain it to me when I question your willingness to fight misogyny with me, methinks you doth protest too much.