I have a very vivid recollection of the first (and last) time a man ever hit me.
I was 21 and at a popular bar with my girlfriends in Pacific Beach, San Diego. We were dancing, drinking and having a great time. As we were walking across the jam-packed dance floor, a man whom I had never met before, decided to forcibly grab my hair in a caveman-esque fashion, stopping me dead in my tracks due to the combined force of his hand and my surging rage. Men touching me in bars was unfortunately nothing new. But this time it was different. This time it was too rough and I had had enough.
“What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” I turn around to say to him.
“Whatever the fuck I want,” he says back with a cocky, misogynistic smirk on his face, which was quickly met with the slap of my firm palm.
I was prepared for the fragile male rage and slander that had become customary when rejected. What I was not prepared for was being met with a reciprocal slap to the face. I was stunned. Speechless. Without any idea what to do next, I walked to the nearby security guard to explain what had just happened. The decision? If they kick him out (and this was a big “if”), they also have to kick me out, because I was apparently the one who instigated the violence. WHAT. THE. FUCK. Needless to say, we left the bar and I never went back.
“Men are afraid women will laugh at them. Women are afraid men will kill them.”
– Margaret Atwood
Just because women are used to the inappropriate behavior – the catcalls, the groping, the dirty DMs, the subtly suggestive and unwelcome comments – does not mean it’s okay. And I think we’re all just now starting to realize that. Women are finding their voice. There is a collective re-traumatization that is happening now as women begin to share their stories, and it’s calling for healing and the empathy of men.
“Some days I am more wolf than woman and I am still learning how to stop apologizing for my wild.”
– Nikita Gill
I pray that our world is changing… that our society is awakening. So that when, or if, I have daughters one day, they won’t feel the need to hold their breath with their keys strategically interwoven in-between their fingers as they walk to their car at night. So that they won’t have to text at least two people the details of their first date, “just in case.” So that they won’t have to keep their eyes and hand glued to the top of their cocktail because they’ve heard countless accounts of girls getting roofied at bars and parties. So that they won’t feel restricted to only running in daylight where people (aka. witnesses) are plentiful. So that they won’t deliberately try to make a “resting bitch face” after getting catcalled in an attempt to look as unapproachable as possible; So that they won’t silently wonder if they’ll get attacked if they clapback. So that they won’t question if anyone will even believe them if they say they’ve been assaulted (God forbid) because “What were you wearing? How much did you drink? Were you flirting?”
“It’s tempting to say that’s sheer paranoia, and most men are wonderful. Most men are wonderful. Except, of course, for the ones that aren’t. One in three women are victims of domestic violence, and in 55 percent of cases where women are murdered, domestic violence is involved. In 93 percent of those cases, the perpetrator is their husband or boyfriend or an intimate partner. Or, as the Huffington Post puts it “Who Is Killing American Women? Their Husbands And Boyfriends, CDC Confirms.” And before someone says “but women kill their male partners, too!”—yes, they do, two percent of the time. Ninety-eight percent of homicidal partners are male.” (1)
I have been blessed with more positive interactions with men than bad ones. But the bad ones have been downright terrifying at times. From being stalked for miles on end, to being inappropriately groped by a stranger. These are things that sear themselves into a woman’s memory and change the way she experiences life until she releases and heals them; thus freeing up space to see, trust, and ultimately, celebrate men.
Photo by Jordan Tyler Paige[/caption]
This is not a time for men to sarcastically complain about not knowing how to “appropriately” speak to a woman or what “consent” means. Go listen to some of John Wineland’s content. Women want to feel safe. We’re tired of the rape and roofie jokes. We’re tired of hearing that a man’s reputation is more important than a woman’s safety. We’re tired of lying and saying “sorry, I have a boyfriend” because we’re too afraid to just say “no.”
Let’s call in safe vocality and healthy boundaries. Ladies, it’s time to speak up and heal. Men, it’s time to listen and love.
(1) “Women are afraid men will Murder them.” Jennifer Wright. https://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/politics/a15300130/sexual-consent-versus-coercion-aziz-ansari/