So this and this has been going on this week...and I saw this. And this. Aaaand this.
I have written page after page after page trying to figure out just what I wanted to say about the shooting in Santa Barbara, the #yesallwomen hashtag, sexism, misogyny and violence against women (in all its forms). I have written very rational and factual responses but that didn't express the frustration, anger and sadness I feel. I wrote a rather emotional and personal response but it was deemed "too much". Which, if you really think about it, is rather ironic. I don't want to "turn off" others by being seen as an irrational, emotional woman. I want to share my experiences with others but I'm afraid of the reaction I may get. Irony at its finest - I'm afraid to speak out about misogyny and sexism because of the potentially negative reactions I may get.
Since my cousin posted about this hashtag on Facebook two days ago, I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. I haven't been able to turn my brain off and everything I hear is now processed through a completely different lens. I keep thinking of what I would say if I were to post something to Twitter. It's reopened scars I thought had long since healed. I've been fighting demons I thought were long since dealt with.
Louis C.K. has a short sketch talking about the danger men pose to women. The audience laughs because why would a person willingly put themselves in danger in such a way? It's absurd, really. He compares men to half bear, half lions that will kill you because it's their nature. It's unrealistic to expect the lion/bear hybrid to do anything other than attack and kill you. Hence, it's unrealistic and naive to expect men to not attack women. By his reasoning (and yes, I understand he is employing humor to make a point) we can't expect men to treat women well because it's not in a 'true man's' nature.
I've read a lot of different responses to the hashtag - most are very positive and are truly attempting to have a dialogue. Unfortunately, there are still many who don't see sexism and misogyny as a very real threat to the well being of women and children. (This brilliant TED Talk discusses how women's issues are actually gender issues. It's about 20 minutes but worth a listen.) Sexism, misogyny, violence against women has such an impact on every single person. It's not just something that hurts women. What about the young boy that watches his mother beaten nightly? What about the young girl that is told she'll never make as much as her brother. In a society that indicates value by monetary distribution, what is it telling our sons and daughters when women still don't make the same salary as men? That there are far fewer female CEOs, Senators, Congresswomen, professors, doctors and scientists?
I don't have daughters or sons but I have nieces and nephews. I have nearly 200 students that I interact with on a daily basis. I want a better world for them. I want my nieces to stand tall, proud and unafraid. I want my nephews to respect and appreciate the strength of the women in their lives. Was it is about our culture that turns boys into men that devalue and denigrate women and girls? I think...I hope it starts with an honest and open dialogue. To that end, for the young women and girls trying to define and determine their own identity; to the young men and boys trying to define masculinity...
- because it's her fault he's using her. She needs to wise up.
- because "just checking in, I'm safe" texts and emails are normal while traveling.
- because as a single, short, white woman, I have to work twice as hard as my male counterparts to get the respect of my students and maintain order in my class.
- because I have a firm drive separately, meet in public first date policy
- because the buddy system isn't just for little kids
- because the width of my hips is commented on with regularity
- because all men want a woman that's a 9 or a 10 no matter what they are and at best, you're a 7.
- because he had certain 'expectations' for his wife that didn't include working at an inner-city, title I junior high
- because me saying "no hickeys" is actually a challenge for him to leave a larger, brighter mark the next time.
- because no one will want me unless I drop 60-80 pounds
- because nothing I say matters if I cry. It simply proves I am an irrational woman
- because I've lied about having a boyfriend when rejecting a man. It's easier and safer than actually telling them I'm not interested.