When I was seventeen and preparing to leave for university, my mother’s only brother saw fit to give me some advice.
“Just don’t be an idiot, kid,” he told me, “and don’t ever forget that boys and girls can never just be friends.”
I laughed and answered, “I’m not too worried. And I don’t really think all guys are like that.”
When I was eighteen and the third annual advent of the common cold was rolling through residence like a pestilent fog, a friend texted me asking if there was anything he could do to help.
I told him that if he could bring me up some vitamin water that would be great, if it wasn’t too much trouble.
That semester I learned that human skin cells replace themselves every three to five weeks. I hoped that in a month, maybe I’d stop feeling the echoes of his touch; maybe my new skin would feel cleaner.
It didn’t. But I stood by what I said. Not all guys are like that.
When I was nineteen and my roommate decided the only way to celebrate the end of midterms was to get wasted at a club, I humoured her.
Four drinks, countless leers and five hands up my skirt later, I informed her I was ready to leave.
“I get why you’re upset,” she told me on the walk home, “but you have to tolerate that sort of thing if you want to have any fun. And really, not all guys are like that.”
(Age nineteen also saw me propositioned for casual sex by no fewer than three different male friends, and while I still believe that guys and girls can indeed be just friends, I was beginning to see my uncle’s point.)
When I was twenty and a stranger that started chatting to me in my usual cafe asked if he could walk with me (since we were going the same way and all), I accepted.
Before we’d even made it three blocks he was pulling me into an alleyway and trying to put his hands up my shirt. “You were staring,” he laughed when I asked what the fuck he was doing (I wasn’t), “I’m just taking pity.”
But not all guys are like that.
I am twenty one and a few days ago a friend and I were walking down the street. A car drove by with the windows down, and a young man stuck his head out and whistled as they passed. I ignored it, carrying on with the conversation.
My friend did not. “Did you know those people?” He asked.
“Not at all,” I answered.
Later when we sat down to eat he got this thoughtful look on his face. When I asked what was wrong he said, “You know not all guys do that kind of thing, right? We’re not all like that.”
As if he were imparting some great profound truth I’d never realized before. My entire life has been turned around, because now I’ve been enlightened: not all guys are like that.
No. Not all guys are. But enough are. Enough that I am uncomfortable when a man sits next to me on the bus. Enough that I will cross to the other side of the street if I see a pack of guys coming my way. Enough that even fleeting eye contact with a male stranger makes my insides crawl with unease. Enough that I cannot feel safe alone in a room with some of my male friends, even ones I’ve known for years. Enough that when I go out past dark for chips or milk or toilet paper, I carry a knife, I wear a coat that obscures my figure, I mimic a man’s gait. Enough that three years later I keep the story of that day to myself, when the only thing that saved me from being raped was a right hook to the jaw and a threat to scream in a crowded dorm, because I know what the response will be.
I live my life with the everburning anxiety that someone is going to put their hands on me regardless of my feelings on the matter, and I’m not going to be able to stop them. I live with the knowledge that statistically one in three women have experienced a sexual assault, but even a number like that can’t be trusted when we are harassed into silence. I live with the learned instinct, the ingrained compulsion to keep my mouth shut to jeers and catcalls, to swallow my anger at lewd suggestions and crude gestures, to put up my walls against insults and threats. I live in an environment that necessitates armouring myself against it just to get through a day peacefully, and I now view that as normal. I have adapted to extreme circumstances and am told to treat it as baseline. I carry this fear close to my heart, rooted into my bones, and I do so to keep myself unharmed.
So you can tell me that not all guys are like that, and you’d even be right, but that isn’t the issue anymore. My problem is not that I’m unaware of the fact that some guys are perfectly civil, decent, kind—my problem is simply this:
In a world where this cynical overcaution is the only thing that ensures my safety, I’m no longer willing to take the risk.
— r.d. (via vonmoire)
this is all true and perfect and awful. and dudes, one of the worst things you can do in a situation where you witness “those guys” is say “not all guys are like that.” the last time a man screamed out his car window that i was a slut, an unknown man walking the other way turned to me and said, “i’m sorry that guy’s an asshole. have a good night, okay?”
if you feel you absolutely must comment on the situation, model yourself on that man. don’t make excuses for yourself or “guys” as a whole or, in fact, anyone. don’t center your concern on what this says about you or about what i might think of you in the face of your fellows’ abusive behavior. if you want to express concern or sympathy, center it around me and then shut up. any concern you have about what this says about you or about “guys” is valid, and you should probably think about it, but that is not my problem. i am not interested in affirming how good it is of you to have noticed that something bad happened or reassuring you that you’re not one of “them.” violence has just been done to me. either stay out of it or worry about me. keep your introspection to your damn self.
“Gender Bias in College Admissions Tests”, FairTest.org
And then people urge me everything is fine, of course it is, when you’re ignoring statistics that is.
Fun fact: SAT tests predict college performance pretty well for men, but they strongly underpredict college performance for women. http://spp.sagepub.com/content/early/2012/12/20/1948550612469038.abstract
I think I’ve reblogged this before, but that study needs to be shared.
I don’t know if some of you have been to these live reads at LACMA, where a classic film is read live on stage by actors who just sit and read the script. We did one recently of American Pie, but we reversed the gender roles. All the women played men; all the men played women. And it was so fascinating to be a part of this because, as the women took on these central roles — they had all the good lines, they had all the good laughs, all the great moments — the men who joined us to sit on stage started squirming rather uncomfortably and got really bored because they weren’t used to being the supporting cast.
It was fascinating to feel their discomfort [and] to discuss it with them afterward, when they said, “It’s boring to play the girl role!” And I said, “Yeah. Yeah. You think? Welcome to our world! —Olivia Wilde crushing it when she talks about women in Hollywood. (via leanin)
Anonymous asked: I'm kinda sad because I tried convincing my friends why it was important to read books by female authors too in AP Lit and they kind of just shut me down? Idk what should I do to convince them that it's important?
idk how much useful advice i can give you here, but it sounds like your friends are teenagers, right? teenagers have a whole bunch of weird unexamined prejudices like anyone else, but you’re in luck because they’re way more likely to change their minds than old people are.
first of all you should probably find out WHY your friends don’t want to read stuff by female authors. do they literally think female authors are inferior (in AP lit class???), or is this more of a “we don’t want to be forced to read female authors out of ~political correctness” situation? if the former, then basically they’re kinda sexist and you need to ask why the heck they think female authors are inferior in the first place. if it’s the latter, then try to explain why female authors need to be repped more actively than ~classic male authors who automatically get a ton of attention and have done for centuries. reading books by female authors broadens the variety of life experiences you’re reading about, inspires new female authors of the future, and prevents female authors of the past from being erased from history.
throughout history, male authors have found it easier to publish and publicise their work, so it’s not a matter of women being bad writers or not being worth reading, it’s just that they’ve been hidden from view by the ingrained sexism of everyday life. if you decide not to read anything by women for some spurious reason during high school english class, you’re just perpetuating that system for yet another generation.
Men make $1.22 for every woman’s $1.
It interests me that even the most common simple measure of gender inequality is firmly based on male-as-normative …
this is an interesting point, although mathematically inaccurate: assuming the women:men, 0.78:1 ratio is correct, men make $1.28 for every woman’s $1
White people are still the ~standard so that’s not so revolutionary.
A white man makes $1.34 for every dollar that a black man makes
A white man makes $1.52 for every dollar that a latino man makes
A white man makes $1.24 for every dollar that a white woman makes
A white man makes $1.44 for every dollar that a black woman makes
A white man makes $1.67 for every dollar that a latina woman makes
That’s some bullshit right there.
If you take away anything from this website, please let it be what I bolded ^
Let’s take it a step further. For every hour a white man works, a black woman has to work 86 minutes to earn as much money. 57.6 hours a week compared to the white man’s 40.
Take it another step further. Assuming a Monday through Friday, 9 to 5 job, from Thursday 12:45pm through Friday end of business, a white man gets paid for his work, a black woman is, by comparison, working for free.
See also: Why intersectionality is REALLY FUCKING IMPORTANT OK.