Some things about me that are important going forward:
I am a straight, white, married, woman in my mid-twenties.
I was raised in a middle class, urban, democratic, feminist household.
I attended public inner-city, elementary and high schools in an North-Eastern mid-size city.
I have attended a rural primarily white college
I have attended an urban community college
I graduated from an urban all-women, overwhelmingly liberal, fairly diverse, woman’s studies focused undergraduate institution.
I currently attend a small Presbyterian seminary that I consider conservative.
I offer this because my educational background, and the spaces I have occupied over my life are integral to how I view the world. These experiences, while limited in their scope of my life, give a peak into where I am coming from. They are hardly the only things that have shaped WHO I am, but they certainly scrape up against how I have become the WHO.
Now back to your regularly scheduled feminist rant.
Tonight my mom and I stood in line at Walgreens while the older balding guy with a ponytail behind us clutched only a box of condoms. I was immediately aware that I desperately wanted to text my favorite other “out-of-the-closet feminist” friend at seminary and talk about how uncomfortable it made me. How he was standing SUPER close to us and how he refused to put his Trojans on the counter but clutched them greedily up against his chest while the sixteen-year-old behind the counter lazily scanned through our Diet Dr. Pepper and looked every bit as excited to be working at Walgreens at 10:30 on a Friday night as a cat in a swimming pool.
While my mother and I exited to our separate cars in the parking lot I was acutely aware of how I watched her get into her car and drive away. I noticed how quickly I locked my doors and how I felt safe once I stopped occupying the same space as that guy. I was instantly aware of how, despite my feelings, I SHOULDN’T HAVE TO FEEL THIS WAY.
This week memories have flooded my mind back to my high school days where riding alone on public transportation I was approached by a man at least 30 years my senior (I was barely 15), who passed me a note that read “Your tits are really nice” with his phone number on it, and the man who sat next to me at a bus stop and pretended not to understand English when I asked him twice to take his hand off my thigh, and the ex-boyfriend who was mad at me when I got a piercing because HIS religion didn’t allow women to do that, and the men who have whistled or criticized and then called me a bitch when I didn’t respond positively, and the rape jokes, and kitchen jokes, and feminazi jokes, and lesbian jokes, that have been told in my presence and the joke tellers have been surprised when I didn’t laugh.
This is rape culture. These are not just our stories, but the stories of many women. Most are worse than mine. These are the moments when our bodies have been commodified by men, how our aesthetics have been dictated by men, how our bodies’ care and preservation has been decided by men, how their location and what jobs they have or don’t have are positioned by men.
But not just by men, because there is this whole internalized misogyny thing and women are doing WORSE to each other than the men and are enforcing stereotypes and limiting their sisters and talking about other women in all these horrifying ways.
And now we are at a stand-off. We write and blog and scream about the state of our culture. We look at the outcome of Steubenville, and the statistics of underreported rape, and we study advertisements and how our bodies are used and abused and then *Misogyny Overload takes over.
*Misogyny Overload: Feeling overwhelmed by the state of the world so you throw your hands up and eat the moose tracks you actually bought for your husband and have sarcastic one-sided conversations with horrendous reality television and that reinforces the stereotypes you are working against until you start finding yourself typing a legitimate blog post critiquing said television.
Okay, your misogyny overload probably looks a little different than mine, and I promise one day to finish that post on Friday night wedding TV. You know, however, that you have that moment and A TOTAL MELTDOWN REACTION when it all just boils up like Kraft mac and cheese left on the burner too long.
So, here’s the thing. There are a lot of blog posts that look like this, with much better words and sayings and helpful things to break you out of Misogyny Overload. But that’s it, we have to break that cycle. We have to teach our sons and love our daughters and celebrate the diversity of our sisters.
We have to break the cycle in our close friends, and stop buying into this culture and stand up to those things ESPECIALLY when we feel uncomfortable. Don’t let Misogyny Overload get you down, don’t let Dr. Oz or any male hack tell you how to live your life, don’t let people get away with glorifying sexual harassment as cute or sweet, don’t let your sisters, especially women of color, languish as they fight against everything telling them who they should be because they are a woman, don’t play into the devil’s temptation to blame the victim. Be next to those
Change the world, one little rant at a time.