Wednesday, May 28, 2014

It's a Man's World

So I have been resisting writing about the misogynist shooting near Santa Barbara because so much has already been written about it, and I was just depressed thinking about this young man who was so steeped in a culture of masculine entitlement he literally felt killing women was an appropriate response to being denied sexual access to women's bodies.

But, given that I live in a house with three male people, I think I need to process some of the stuff being stirred up before I just start hating on men in general. I know, I know, #NotAllMen harass or abuse or spout misogynist bullshit.  But I also know, #YesAllWomen (literally, every single woman I know) have experienced harassment, or abuse, or at the very least have altered our behaviors so as to try to avoid violence from men. And that is fucked up.

Not as fucked up as the lives many women lead in other countries, as this morning's New York Times reminds us, but I really don't think we should be congratulating ourselves simply because our fathers can't sell us off to men 40 years older than we are, who can then set us on fire to induce a miscarriage. With no legal penalty for any of it.

Still, the fact that women in our armed forces are 15 times more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by the enemy; that domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women in the U.S, more than car accidents, muggings and stranger rapes combined; and that women who dare to have a public voice are barraged with sexually violent threats, doesn't exactly make me want to jump up and down shouting "Go USA!"

From the odious Pick-Up Artist movement, to the proliferation of Mens Right's Activists, to the widely-accepted and yet highly reductionist concept of men being relegated to the dreaded "Friend Zone," women are too often cast as the enemy, and damned if we don't have the injuries to prove it.

So again, I gotta say the only way I see of stopping this relentless shit parade women have to walk through every day is to raise more good men and get the existing good men to call their fellow men out every time they do or say something harmful to women. My husband and I are raising two boys, and I am genuinely curious - how hard is it for boys and men to stop making female traits the most horrible insult you can think of to call another boy; or stop whistling and gesturing at girls at they are simply walking down the street; or stop touching their bodies as they walk through a crowd to get a beer at the bar; or actually look a co-worker in the eyes, rather than at her chest; or take your hands off a woman when she says, "We've gone as far as I'm comfortable with?" I mean, isn't all of that just basic human decency?

I know this is a bit (or perhaps more than a bit) of a rant, but it gets exhausting and frustrating and depressing to realize that, despite a lot of real gains, so many of the people we are related to, or that we might meet and try to bring ourselves to love don't even look at us as fully human beings. Really, what IS that?

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