Sunday, September 27, 2009

That fear thing


You know... I tried to explain once to someone that the reason it's a douche move to make sexual advances on women who aren't interested isn't merely that it's stepping on the toes of whatever man has a claim to her. It's that it's treating a woman as though her chief value is as a potential mate--if not to you then to someone (regardless of her personal feelings in the matter, because a mate doesn't need feelings, just a serviceable cunt)--and no, god damn you that is not the same as lawyers and doctors being "prized" husbands.

It matters when men treat women that way because men have social power that women don't. Yes, I realize that this is a hard thing to think about as a man who would not want a woman to feel pushed around or bullied by him. Yes, I realize that this might be hard to understand for a guy who doesn't have to deal with any of it personally.

I just wish I could explain certain kinds of fear to people like that in some way that would be effective without oversharing, without opening up in ways that'd make me vulnerable to new angles of insinuation. The idea is to draw boundaries, not to get closer. Strong women get scared, too, but that doesn't mean we should have to air it all around to people who can't be trusted, just to make a point.

There are guys who don't understand this but at least know they don't understand. There are guys who've never felt afraid to walk home alone at night, but are at least willing to take a woman's word for it when she says it's not a good idea.

Then there are those guys who hear a woman mention that she's scared of men, that she feels she's in danger from them, and they get all offended like she's being unreasonable and sexist and bigoted and isn't that just like a white person saying that black people are a threat to them and that's just not fair to generalize about all men that way!

Because they don't understand that most women resist feeling that way. It doesn't make us feel superior to admit that men scare us shitless sometimes. It doesn't make us feel like we're of a higher order. I can't speak for anyone else, but it makes me feel weak and bitter and I hate it. I wish I could believe that I live in a different world than I do solely for my own peace of mind, but that would be absolute fucking insanity.

No woman likes thinking or feeling these things! We've just--somehow or other, over a long period of time or a short one--finally found inescapable the fact that men in many cultures are trained to hurt us, that according to messages in our culture that most men don't even think about they are entitled to hurt us, and that we're the ones who'll be blamed if one of them finally eventually does.

That's the thing that always gets me. This fear is such a nightmare precisely because no woman I know wants to feel this way, to live this way. But it's the only way to fucking survive this culture--to be aware and even if it means constant terror being on guard absolutely all the time because women really are not safe.

For most guys, assault (and therefore all things that might hurt a woman) is a terrible thing that they shouldn't do, nothing more or less. But they're so busy not thinking about themselves as "the kind of guy who'd do that" that they're afraid to see it in the men around them, either. And then they become part of the problem.

In case we needed any more proof that men who can't stand to think for too long about what it must be like to walk around in life as a woman are part of the problem, I give you this particular guy's response to me attempting to teach him that women are socially/culturally subordinated to men in a way that actually does disadvantage them yes it does, yes it does, you son of a bitch, quit shaking your head at me.

"I'm glad I don't live in your world." And a disappointed shake of his head. Stupid woman. Her soft emotional woman-brain has created a nightmare world in which crazy things happen which can't possibly be true. So glad he doesn't live in that nightmare.

He may be glad, but I refuse to believe that any good friend or decent human being would hear someone talk about the ways in which they're forced to lead a less-satisfying life and respond with that horseshit. I refuse to believe that anybody who cares what kind of world the people he suppposedly cares about are living in would respond to the difference with, "I'm glad I don't live in your world," like I've described some kind of insane schizophrenic horror in which all men are Evil Kitten-Eating Reptilians from Outer Space, and how terrible it must be to go through life thinking such a silly thing.

As cernowain said at the time, "Oh... I wish you hadn't said that. Because we all live in the same world."

Because Cern gets it, god damn it. We're all living in the same world. It's just that some of us can ignore huge chunks of it because blindness to the suffering of others is comforting, and if a thing is comforting, it must be worth believing, and if it's worth believing, it must be true. Never mind the people you could help but won't because you don't have the sack to even fucking look at them or what hurts them.

When one man on the street makes a comment to me, or stares at me, or makes kissy noises at me, or gods forbid walks a little too close to me, I check two things: I check to make sure there's only one of him, and I check in a store window afterward to make sure he's not following me, or following me with a friend or two. That's my immediate reaction.

I don't think, "Gee, what a lovely compliment he is paying to my outfit and hairstyle which I clearly worked hard on as a mating display for the benefit of onlookers who prefer decorative females." I think, "How many? Where? Am I being followed? If so, how far is it to my destination and could I make it if I had to run?"

But never mind that. Obviously the necessity of such thinking is all in my head. Obviously I'm living in some kind of horrible estrogen-fed madness.

Part of the problem. If a man can believe that women he knows don't have valid complaints about misogyny simply because it makes him feel better to believe it, he's part of the problem. He's part of the problem because he has effectively put the sanctity of his own comforting illusions above the sanity and safety of the women in his life.

Which is a hell of a set of priorities for someone who doubtless thinks of himself as being too smart to be sexist.

It'd be nice if this particular brand of idiocy weren't so fucking common, but then again... if it weren't so common, we'd all be living in a very different sort of world, wouldn't we?



Lyon said...

Tell it. *nods*

The Dictatress said...

I read this twice. This is important.