Trigger Warning: This post contains discussion regarding sexual assault
Well alright. *clears throat, pushes glasses up nose*
We’d love to give every guy the benefit of the doubt right up until they rape and murder us. I get it. Not All Men. What you’re quite possibly forgetting is that it’s more like Quite Possibly Any Man. No one can identify a rapist or a psychopath by looking at them.
Women are simultaneously told that we should let our guard down around men because we’re being overly paranoid and “GOODNESS NOT ME”, while being told that if we want to protect ourselves, we have to be on guard around all men – lest we be raped and/or murdered by them and blamed by large swaths of society for our own assaults.
Even when our abusers are arrested, society does very little to them. The bulk of reported sexual assaults are never prosecuted because rape survivors aren’t taken seriously – including child rape, and warehouses are full of untested rape kits some of which are decades old that are just “too expensive” to bother with.
What we take from that is that our lives, our bodies, and our bodily autonomy are that worthless to the world. And like the world keeps repeating – it’s up to us to keep ourselves safe, because clearly no one else is going to.
We’re told “that’s just men”, that “men can’t help themselves”, that “you have to teach your daughter stay safe”, that “sure, teach her the man who rapes her is responsible but this is just how society works” (read: the onus on a woman’s safety is on her, not the guy who attacked her).
And then we’re yelled at for being too sensitive, too cautious, and too paranoid.
And when men react to our apprehension at talking to strange men (because that’s literally the instructions we’ve had beaten into us as little girls from Day 1 (if you want to be safe follow all of these contradictory rules or we’ll victim blame you)) with “Not All Men”, what it tells us is that you really have no comprehension of the situation we’re facing.
Tell me what you’d like us to do, Ian? Maybe you could wear a sign that says “Not A Rapist”. Maybe that would help. Not that any woman is likely to believe it because it’s not like rapists run around gleefully identifying themselves.
Which would you like? For women to protect themselves or for women to stop being so goddamned sensitive? Because we can’t do both simultaneously – even when it’s constantly demanded of us.
If you want someone to be mad at for why you have to be afraid to talk to women? Be mad at rape culture. Be mad at the patriarchal nature of our society that leaves us to fend for ourselves and then treats us like we’re hysterical or asking for it when we’re assaulted.
But women? Women are really not the problem here.
You get to walk around this world every day not feeling like any random person of the opposite gender might just be the one who decides to follow you down a dark alley and violently assault you. You get to exist without threat that people will grab parts of your body in public and treat you like you’re less than human, pushing you up against a wall and hovering over you. I’m going to wager a guess that people don’t routinely send you pictures of their genitalia and tell you that you should thank them for the privilege of seeing it. Then, when you don’t, tell you that they’re going to come to your house and rape and murder you, you stupid bitch.
You don’t have to live in constant fear because you’re a -guy- and this stuff happens a lot less often to guys. When we talk about “male privilege”, that’s what we’re talking about. It’s simply saying that by your very nature of being male, there are some things you don’t have to experience regularly.
And that position makes it difficult for you (and so many other men) to have any concept of what it is we experience, as women, on a LITERALLY DAILY BASIS. Not once a week. Not once a month. Daily.
I get rape threats from random strangers once a month or so. Photos of genitals sent to me daily. Messages to my inbox threatening me for being outspoken and talking about these things. Just last week – in broad daylight – in a public park full of children, a guy blocked my path between a block of toilets and tried to physically intimidate me, hovering over me and being all, “Hey baby hang out with us, you’ll have a nice time.” When I tried to walk around him he blocked me again. That’s not a situation you likely have to deal with regularly – but it’s the kind of situation we have to deal with often. Then we’re told that we’ve overreacted to when it leaves us feeling unsafe. And when you’re told that you’re overreacting to a situation like that – and you know you’re not – you start to see rapists in every damn man you see.
Because like you, WE can’t tell the difference on sight alone.
Sincerely yours and best wishes,