1. Women are just bodies made for the pleasure of men
Women’s bodies are not here for the purpose of penises, eyes, egos, or profit. It’s really as simple as that. I don’t know if it’s a combo of male libido and an imbalance of power between the sexes, or the way that heterosexual sex works, or the smaller statue of females, or what, but there’s definitely the sense that all parts of the woman are there for the man. It’s only gotten very tiny increments better since the dawn of sexual liberation and women’s equality. You’d be right to assume that women’s bodies are definitely for men, and that our value is summed up by the parts of our body, based on media, marketing, and general understanding of how things work. We are sold as splices of body parts all the time. And those splices are impractically perfect. The beauty standard is absurd, and sold HARD. We are cast as the accessory female prop alongside the man with the storyline in TV and movies. Majorly underrepresented.
Men, no matter who they are, or what they themselves look like, have the right to ogle and judge and criticize us. (I would include a link to our president and his wife, or our president and any woman, ever, but eww gross, I just can’t.) They also feel they have the right to touch us, own us, if they want to. That’s what we know. And, so, women primp and wax and color and thin down, in order to try to reach a standard, and be acceptable to the male gaze.
2. Men are pigs.
So, when I was a kid….hang on, let me start by saying that you may read something that triggers your own trauma here. So, please don’t read, if you think this will cause you more harm than good. This last few months, as victims of abuse and harassment finally found a tribe they could fall into safely, and we finally, FINALLY, made a little ground in recognizing the existence of this system, a rape culture, that we’d been told didn’t exist, there was a lot of experiences of abuse and assault shared online. Social media is a really cool space for this safety net, and that’s amazing, but also, when you’re scrolling along your newsfeed and seeing recipes and puppy photos, and then descriptions of your college buddy’s rape, it’s jarring, and might open raw some wounds of your own. I’m not sorry this united voice is growing, but I am sorry if it’s making it harder for survivors.
So. When I was a kid, my family used to have my sisters and I chant, “Men are…pigs! Men are…pigs!” It was kind of funny, to hear little girls saying it, I guess, and I think it was their version of warning us? Of sliding some armor over us? They had 3 girls, and I know everyone fears having girls, because…well, what do people say? Girls are more complicated, more manipulative, more emotional, more trying, and more….vulnerable to attack from men pigs.
“When you have a boy, you only have to worry about that one penis, but when you have a girl, you have to worry about ALL the penises.” Have you heard that? The assumption is that the owners of the penises can’t be held responsible for them, the girls/women have to do it for them. “Boys will be boys.” “Men will be pigs.”
(Side note- How many men and women do I know who desperately did NOT want to have a girl child when they were expecting? A lot. I mean, progressive, educated, empowered women whisper this all the time, are afraid of what it would mean to try to raise a girl. I used to feel that way, until I realized it was because I was sexist against girls and women, and myself. I was raised in this system, and I had biases against females…and against myself. We gotta get on top of that. Now.)
I assume my family was trying to warn us of this system, by teaching us “men are…pigs.” They were making sure we know “the way things are,” by having us memorize that chant. It wasn’t exactly a solution for us, though. Men are pigs, and so….what do we do about it? Men are pigs, and…why? Men are pigs, and…here’s what I mean by ‘pig?’ Men are pigs, and….and….after all of that, we were left to figure out on our own.
That’s confusing to a young girl, or, frankly, to an adult woman. Aren’t you saying that being a pig is bad? So, why wouldn’t men…not do that? Also, if men are pigs, but my dad’s a man…what do I do with that? I have to assume he’s not a pig, because he’s loving and lovely, so is it maybe that he’s just a pig in a very certain way that will only negatively effect other women, but not me? Argh. My head hurts. Or is it that you can’t help it, because it’s just men’s nature? A huge force of nature we all will succumb to? Geez. What next then?
It’s confusing, because it ain’t right. Men shouldn’t be pigs. Girls/women shouldn’t have to “deal with them.” If it’s biological, look. We’ve overridden lots of biological imperatives. We’re fairly advanced beasts. We can do this one, too. Don’t be pigs, damnit. And recognize the ways that you are. And don’t shut us up when we’re pointing them out.
One of the most helpful things about these #metoo conversations online, is that they feel like confessions of crimes we didn’t commit, but were nonetheless holding shamefully against ourselves. When you see, objectively, how other victims have owned the men pig’s crimes, their harm, their indignities, and are learning to release them, it gives you permission to unload those you were holding against yourself.
When I was 16, I waitressed at a Bob Evan’s restaurant. An old man (maybe 60s? 70’s? I had the perspective of a kid, so it’s hard to say, but he seemed really old) came in and always sat in the same seat at the counter and always requested I be his server. He started talking to me about his life, and then, when I would do things like mop the floors, he would make weird comments about ‘staying out of the Mrs.’ way when she was doing her house work.’ Stuff like that. He had a wonky eye and a weird way of talking. I had the impression he was a little ‘touched.’ So, I was nice to him, and I was doing my job. Then, one day, he gave me a manilla envelope that contained, to the best of my memory, a ring of some sort, some other tokens of some sort, and a really long, really poorly spelled letter about how he intended to marry me. At that point, I told my parents. I can’t remember what the restaurant did, if they knew. I was definitely afraid of being fired, but I imagine we got management involved? I recognized that he was creepy and I shouldn’t be around him for my safety. I got in trouble at home, for letting it go that far. I should have known better. I should have not put out those vibes. I shouldn’t have been so nice to him. Was I flattered by his attention? Damnit, Sarah. You should have been more suspicious. I was definitely left with the impression that it was my fault. I should have understood, better, that this old, maybe impaired man’s intent, of course, was to try to own me and have sex with me. Because men are pigs. Hadn’t I been listening?
That bugs me. I was just doing my job, and being a nice person. I hate that the lesson learned was that to be a better girl/woman, I had to protect myself from the pigs better. There are going to be a lot of them.
Sigh. As we expose and take down this system…it’s going to be hard. It’s going to strain relationships. And it has been, for me and the people I love. When I’m describing my #metoo, or talking about how much harder something is for women than men because of the system built against us, or how unsafe I am in situations where men are fine, or how the burden of domestic responsibility is so unbalanced, they get hurt or want to deny my truth. I find myself stopping my description of my pain, and comforting them. Or, once I realized that was wack as hell, just clamming up. Shutting it down. It’s exhausting, and infuriating.
Women aren’t unique in this insane responsibility, of course People of color who are invested in white friends and family, have to patiently, delicately, patiently, Oh, God, so patiently, explain to us that yes, there is a system built to hurt them, no it hasn’t already been resolved. No, they’re not exaggerating. No, they’re not trying to game anything. Dear Lord. Yes, it’s just as bad as it seems, worse, probably, and right, yes, that’s more terrible than you want it to be. BUT STILL.
I don’t want them to stop teaching us, and I don’t want to to shut up anymore.
Women have long shut up to protect other people’s feelings, and to protect men pigs. Time Magazine just named the “Silence Breakers” of the #metoo movement as person of the year. In reaction over the past few months, there’s been a lot of victim blaming and asking “haven’t we lost enough talented, powerful men now? When is enough enough? Was it really that bad, what she experienced? Come on! ” Women are told to shut up because they’re exposing the power structure, the patriarchy, the rape culture, the truth, and it’s hard. They’re told not to make waves. Let him be. Be silent.
The most devastating, absolutely stomach churning example is little Maya Angelou’s early life story (then little Marguerite Annie Johnson). At the age of 8, she was raped, and sexually abused by her mother’s boyfriend, and she told her family. They believed her, and the man was found guilty in court, and jailed for one day. That wasn’t justice, obviously, and someone took the law into their own hands and killed the man 4 days after he was released. That little girl, who had been so badly hurt by that man, went mute for 5 (five) years, because, as she stated, “I thought, my voice killed him; I killed that man, because I told his name. And then I thought I would never speak again, because my voice would kill anyone…”
My. God. Baby girl.
She was silent. And then, thank God, she wasn’t.
Recently, a friend told me about going out to drinks with her husband, a friend, and that friend’s customer. The customer, an older man, who my friend barely knew, put his hand on her butt and cupped it as the group walked from one bar to another. He just reached out and grabbed her in one of her most personal areas of her body. Because he wanted to.
Her FIRST THOUGHT was how, if she told her husband and her friend, her friend who was in business with this man, might be negatively affected. This might be bad for business. And she was fine, she could handle it, it wasn’t THAT big of a deal.
She was brave, and she didn’t stay silent. She told her friend and her husband and together they all threw the shit head out of the party.
I hate that she experienced that, and that she questioned whether it was wrong, or ‘wrong enough to cause a scene.’
We were raised to protect the pigs. FUCK THAT.
We are done.