Thursday, May 29, 2014

A Post I Never Thought I'd Write

I've really gotten into this #YesAllWomen thing. If you are (still) my friend on Facebook, you'll already know this because for the last few days virtually the only thing that I've posted on Facebook has been tweets or links concerning #YesAllWomen. Lots of people have written their thoughts on it (people who will have much more impact than anything I write will ever have) and the more posts and tweets I've read, the more it's made me think. Finally I decided to write my own opinions down on the matter. I'm still not positive it's the right thing to do, or the smart thing to do. But being unsure if I should write this because of the possible ramifications tells me that I need to write it because it needs to be said.

I feel like I've been deeply affected by the misogynistic thought processes behind #YesAllWomen. But not in the way that *most* other women (men/trans/whoever) have been affected.

Here are the biggest reasons behind why all of this hits me much differently than *most* people who've shared their feelings on #YesAllWomen

I've never been raped.
I've never been molested.
I've never been sexually assaulted.
I've never dated.
I am a virgin.

That last one is probably where your eyebrows hit your hairline.

There is no theological, idealogical, or psychological reason that I've 'saved myself'. I've simply never met anyone that I wanted to give that much of myself to.

It's that easy. Only, it's never that easy.

When Elliot Rodger killed six people and injured 13 more, he didn't do anything that hadn't been done by other unhinged psychopaths. What he did differently was blame - in explicit undeniable terms - women for not having sex on him, thus causing him to go off the deep end and start killing people. That is the only reason he gave (multiple times) in his manifesto, for why he intended to kill people. Yes, he killed men. He killed men because he felt as though they were inhibiting his chances for women to find him attractive. But he blamed women for not fulfilling his sexual needs, and acknowledging the fact that as an 'attractive, wealthy guy' he was entitled to have sex with women (specifically beautiful women) and since women were denying him his inalienable right to sex, he was going to kill everyone.

Thus began the birth and subsequent rise of #YesAllWomen on Twitter. Thousands (millions?) are supporting this movement, but many others are either confused or resentful of it because they're focused on the specific people Elliot killed, and don't realize that those six people represent thousands who are and have been killed/raped/assaulted/maimed/harassed/belittled every day, every week, every year, and every decade since people started recording time, all because of misogyny in various formats. People think the term misogyny means only hatred of women but it's much greater than that. It's the idea that just because you got born, you deserve something.

Back to me being a virgin. It isn't some secret that I hide. Virtually all my closest friends are aware of it, and friends/family who aren't, probably won't be all that surprised to find out. Most girls I meet or know casually, however, would never guess the truth. It never even seems to cross their mind to wonder because I'm normal. This includes lesbians, bi, what have you. But guys know. Maybe not at first, but eventually, guys always ferret it out. Even gay guys. I'm not a wilting daisy. I can cuss most Navy folk under the table and I don't shy off from dirty jokes. But no matter how run of the mill I act, guys always figure out that I'm a virgin. And then it always becomes this thing they can't un-know.

I actually once had a guy cut another guy off - after learning I was a virgin - and stop him from telling a sex joke because, well, you know, she's a virgin. And that was uncomfortable. For them. It didn't bother me, but it bothered them. Which is where all of this #YesAllWomen thing comes in for me. None of my girlfriends give a rat's ass that I'm a virgin. None of my lesbian friends (or any lesbians who happen to have hit on me in the past) give a rat's ass that I'm a virgin. But guys? Straight heterosexual guys? *Most* of them? They want to know if I'm a lesbian (you know, because then I'm only a man-virgin). They want to know if something's wrong with me. They want to know if I've been attacked and I'm scared to be with someone. They want to know how, I'm still a virgin. Like it's not possible for virgins (who fit into the 'male ideal of attractive' specifically) to survive to adulthood and beyond. Like there's no reason for them to exist.

One time I was at a local club (yes, I went clubbing and dancing as a teen/twenty-something just like everyone else) and this guy hedged over and did his best to hit on me. He was perfectly nice about it. Flattering, talkative. When he tried to buy me a drink and I declined, he didn't get huffy like many guys. But he did ask why. I told him that I didn't accept drinks from guys because I felt like it would be leading them on because I already knew they weren't going to get anything out of it. He asked me how I could already know that, if I didn't know the guy. I told him I knew they wouldn't get anything because I knew I wasn't interested in dating, I was single and I liked it that way.

Do you know what he said then?

He said, 'That's tragic.' Like humanity was being struck a mortal blow by the loss of my DNA in its system. Like the fact that I didn't want to date anyone or have random sex with anyone would somehow bring down the free world.

What the guy really meant, was that it was tragic for him. It was tragic because (and this is where, I guess, I was supposed to feel flattered) he'd picked me out of all the other girls in the club, and had put in time and effort into talking me up because he wanted the chance to put his dipstick in my oil pan, and now he'd been told in no uncertain terms that ain't happening. That was pretty much the end of our conversation. The guy sidled off toward a college coed and I went and burned up the dance floor (badly) with my best friend and had a great time.

Some people will say that I'm reading into what one guy said, but he'd not the only straight (and, frankly, white) guy who's had a similar reaction to hearing that I'm not interested in dating. I've been told point blank - in various more-playful and less-playful ways - that I'm a 'waste of a beautiful woman' because I'm not 'in the game'. Which is a nice way of saying 'it's not fair that I don't have the chance to fuck you.'

I'm not even going to get into the catcalls and comments. I've dealt with my share of the like, but I, personally, have never been intimidated by the guys (again, straight, usually white, guys) doing it. I don't live in a large city (just outside a city of something like 150k people) so that probably has a lot to do with it. Something else that probably has a lot to do with it is the fact that I carry a sheath knife on my hip all the time. I don't do it for safety, I do it because after 13 years working on a farm, carrying a knife is habit. But the fact that I have the gumption to carry one openly in public probably stops harassment before it starts. Because right there on my side is irrefutable proof that I have a way to deal with asshole guys, and they have no way of knowing for certain if I'll actually use that weapon against them or not. So guys who might normally act like asshats tread cautiously around me. Basically, if I *look* like I'm capable of causing them bodily harm or death, I'm too much trouble to meddle with.

That says a lot about mainstream American men. Not that there aren't men in other countries just as guilty of objectifying women, but I've had a very limited (very non-gropy, non-catcally non-agressive) experiences with men from other countries.

So, yeah, I'm all about #YesAllWomen. The fact that guys think it's 'tragic' that my vagina isn't on the turntable for their perusal is misogynistic. The fact that discovering I'm a virgin means most guys see me as either the best score ever, or something they have to coddle (and I don't mean in the noble fashion, I mean in the 'I have to curb my behavior because she can't handle guyspeak like a non-virgin can' way) is misogynistic. The fact that I wonder how many stalker-types might try and friend me on Facebook after I post this, is misogynistic. And that I'm worried about how many guy friends I already have and am very fond of on Facebook might be weirded out, or treat me differently after reading this, is misogynistic.The fact that the fact I'm a virgin even matters to anyone, is misogynistic.

I am not a man-hater. I have LOTS of AMAZING guy friends. I love my guys. But the guys I love, they get me. They aren't all weird about my virginity. They don't act like I 'need a man' in my life. They don't abstain from saying 'guy things' in front of me. And they don't step up to defend me unless I need them to. The guys I love will look at a guy who is getting in my grill and then tell him something like 'I'm just going to stand over here and watch her verbally hand your ass to you.' because they know I can handle myself.

If I ever truly needed help, my guy friends would storm the gulag to get to me, to be there for me, and to help me. They would do whatever it took to protect me, if I ever needed protecting. The rest of the time, they stand back and let me be the strong woman I am. Because they understand.

This is not about all guys acting like shitheads toward women. This is about the fact that all women at some point in their lives have been treated like crap by guys who are shitheads. It's about how in our current society, girls who worry about walking alone at night are called drama queens, but girls who trust strange guys and subsequently get taken advantage of are naive bimbos who put themselves in harms way in the first place. It's about the fact that in our society we're supposed to do everything we can to look like airbrushed computer manipulated unrealistic models in magazines, but if we actually do - by natural fate, or surgeon's knife - look like those models, then we're inviting men to treat us like the objectified sexual object they created. It's about the fact that if we don't 'keep up appearances' by society's standards, we're somehow failing at being 'women' but if we're attractive or dress provocatively and suffer assault or harassment, it's our fault for looking too good to resist.

#YesAllWomen is about the fact that a guy felt like women owed him sex just because he existed and when he didn't get it, he killed people. And at least a small percentage of the population actually thinks he was justified in doing it.

#YesAllWomen is, for me, about the fact that that same small percentage - at the minimum - can't grasp the fact that there might still be a few virgins who just didn't feel like giving it up to anyone yet. Because in the mind of that small percentage people like me don't have a right to refuse to give it up to whoever feels entitled to it. And it's about the fact that so very many young girls and women out there buy into the idea that they don't have a right to say no, even when they want to.