We are taught that we must be better, smarter, and more polite because Black bodies are seen as worse, ignorant, and dangerous. We must remain on high alert as we navigate our own neighborhoods and are aware of tensions that arise when we walk through others. We are told to respect the police not because they have earned it by being our protectors, but because lack of respect can result in brutality and death. When we do succeed, we are considered exceptional, and when we fail, we are an expected statistic.
We have yet to reach the mundane. Our stories must be triumph or tragic because normalcy is not afforded to us. If we existed in the realm of the average, we would not be seen as a threat until we actually acted as such. If we were afforded normalcy, we would not exist in the extreme margins of society. As it stands, we are Oprah Winfrey or Renisha McBride, Barack Obama or Michael Brown. These are the narratives about Black people that resonate and attract attention — so much so that our existence as college students and professionals are still seen as exceptional, not expected.
All women live in sexual objectification like fish live in water. Given the statistical realities, all women live all the time under the shadow of the threat of sexual abuse. The question is, what can life as a woman mean, what can sex mean to targeted survivors in a rape culture? Given the statistical realities, much of women’s sexual lives will occur under post-traumatic stress. Being surrounded by pornography - which is not only socially ubiquitous but often directly used as part of sex - makes this a relatively constant condition. Women cope with objectification through trying to meet the male standard, and measure their self-worth by the degree to which they succeed. Women seem to cope with sexual abuse principally through denial or fear. On the denial side, immense energy goes into defending sexuality as just fine and getting better all the time, and into trying to make sexuality feel all right, like it is supposed to feel. Women who are compromised, cajoled, pressured, tricked, blackmailed, or outright forced into sex (or pornography) often respond to the unspeakable humiliation, coupled with the sense of having lost some irreplaceable integrity, by claiming that sexuality as their own. Faced with no alternatives, the strategy to acquire self-respect and pride is: I chose it.
Sexuality, Pornography, and Method: “Pleasure under Patriarchy”
Author(s): Catherine A. MacKinnon
Source: Ethics, Vol. 99, No. 2 (Jan., 1989), pp. 314-346
Published by: The University of Chicago Press
We All Know You Aren’t Him
Via Kara Joy Dubbs
We All Know You Aren’t Him
all of us know that.
but that isn’t the point.
once you have encountered him, the guy that thinks that he gets to do whatever he wants to you after repeatedly telling him no, it changes you. it may not destroy you. you may learn over many years to not live in fear. you will always be more careful, because now you just aren’t sure. you’ve experienced exactly how far someone is capable of going. you may try and downplay how you look. you may become uncomfortable when people focus on certain body parts. you may become uncomfortable when male strangers approach you on the street and begin telling you how pretty you are. and following you. and “just wanting to talk to you.” or telling you that you should smile more. or catcall you at the grocery store/gas station/car wash/walking to pick your child up from school. you struggle to remain open and trusting. because not doing so is unhealthy and it means that he has won. and you defy that. you may feel uncomfortable when you see ads that continue to go with the age old idea that “sex sells.” you don’t get the weird attention your boobs get, the ones that just came along with pregnancy and never went away that you didn’t ever really want anyway… you hear men refer to women as sluts if they are enjoying the same amount of sex that they are and it makes no sense. the list is endless.
you realize fully, that every man is not him.
but that isn’t the point.
I have many men in my life that I trust implicitly. that I love, deeply. that I know would never ever ever hurt others.
but that isn’t the point, either.
the point is, those guys that have little regard for women ARE out there. that view women as objects to be conquered. in varying degrees, I’ve encountered them multiple times over the years. the bartending days: the boy who who became so enraged when I wouldn’t give him my phone number. suddenly, I was a stuck up bitch, then I was acting like I was “too good for him.” then he “didn’t really want my number because I was an ugly cunt.” he managed to really work himself up as I tried repeatedly to calm him. the last words he spat at me when I told him he had to leave? “I’ll show you. I’m going out to my car to get my gun.” really? because I had no interest in giving you my phone number?
there were countless lesser, but as disturbing conversations over the years. I was never shitty when declining advances. I also saw what alcohol and anger mixed together could do. I always ended up being “ugly,” or a “bitch” or a “cunt” or a “slut” or a myriad of other things meant to hurtful and terrible.
I’ve always wondered where that came from. I’ve always wondered why anyone ever thought they had some sort of right to me. that is the point in all this. how and why some men get to that place. and ever make the jump that the only response they can resort to is violence. or force.
sometimes, things trigger vicseral responses. over the past few days, many of these conversations have done so. this wasn’t just some mass shooting of strangers. this was a kid that point blank said he was going to kill some women because they denied him attention and sex.
it is connected, here. mental health issues, misogyny, murder. I will not apologize for it making me seethingly angry and equally sad. I will not dismiss it simply because he wasn’t “every man.” I cannot ignore the misogyny factor.
I’m also thinking about the young girl that recently committed suicide after her classmates found out that she had done porn and unleashed a massive slut shaming attack on her. until she finally broke. she didn’t go on a shooting spree. she took her own life.
everything around us tells women to be this something. to look a certain way, to dress a certain way, to embrace your sexuality. it’s difficult for anyone to not get sucked into these cultural identities that are around us daily. in fairness, men are getting messed up messages, too. clearly.
so which is it? damned if you do, damned if you don’t. so you just keep doing what you do and hope you never encounter that guy? that’s not a solution. the statistics say there’s a good chance that we will encounter this guy at some point…
unfortunately, I can’t talk to these guys in these internet groups, or any guys who feel this way. I’ve already been labeled something and completely dismissed based on my gender.
this is up to men. they may actually listen to you. this is up to the caregivers and the mothers and fathers of young boys. we need a cultural mind shift. we have so much work to do.
but first we have to admit it’s a very real problem. a pervasive one.
and talk about it.