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bear by san

March 2017



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criminal minds fate

kept a shine on the bar with the sleeves of our coats

I was feeling profoundly depressed about the UCSB shootings and equally depressed about the number of men who just don't get why women are horribly upset and scared by this. Then I found the #YesallWomen hashtag on twitter and it helped.

Because, well, yes. Not all men are predators. But every woman you know has had experience with men who are. Every woman. Me. Your mother. That lady in the upstairs apartment with the dog with the annoying clicky nails ALL NIGHT ALL DAMN NIGHT PUT BOOTS ON THAT THING.

All of us.

I'm not even talking about rape or threats of violence here, though of course that's part of it. It's not just being taught from an early age that we're prey animals, and we always have to be ready to fight or flee. It's that creepy fifty-something guy who tried to pick me up on a city bus when I was fourteen. The fellow writer who stared down my shirt after his third glass of wine. The mail carrier who pulled over to ask me out on a date, and when I told him I was married, argued with me. (Notice, I told him "I'm married," not "That's flattering, but no thank you." Because belonging to another man is safer than saying no.) There was the airport shuttle driver who bugged me for my phone number all the way from Hartford to New York, until another passenger entered the van.

That wasn't scary at all. Nuh uh.

I'm not saying that it's always inappropriate to pay a compliment. I was never offended by the guy who stopped me in the supermarket to tell me I had pretty hair and carried myself well, and it brightened his day--because he so patently did not want anything from me. He was complimenting, not coming on.

We can tell the difference.

If we're conventionally attractive, we're abused when we refuse to cater to men--when we don't want to be bothered when we're reading on the train or give them our phone number if they stop us on the street. If we're dyky or fat or old, we're abused for being ugly lesbo bitches, which is to say, not fuckable. Because being fuckable is the only excuse a woman has to exist, to these dudes.

It makes me fucking tired. It makes a lot of women tired.

And what you're hearing right now is a lot of tired women asking for a little fucking respect. If you haven't behaved that way, well then. It's not directed at you, is it?

If you have behaved that way?

Maybe this could be a learning experience, then.


And the men in their fifties and sixties who follow me through Wal-Mart, even after I've walked away, when I still look like I'm in my teens in that outfit, or who stalk me from the alcohol section because obviously me buying a couple of margarita mixes mean I'm up for a par-tay.

Or the guy who followed me around campus for two weeks, after I broke up with him when we only dated for a month.

Or the way more than one woman around here says don't trust the cops, especially at night.

Though getting told my hair was pretty and he'd like to be twenty years younger by the one guy was a nice compliment, because he simply walked away and I never saw him again.

Yeah. Tired is a good word for it.

I am proud that I have a very polite and good younger brother. If only I could find him a nice girl :)
Definitely, tired.

And how fast "hey baby" turns to "bitch" when you fail to fall on their dick respond to their attention.

It's going to be interesting being primarily a pedestrian again. :-/
Stride out, brave lady.

Oh, I don't plan to let anything stop me. I can always wear my Doc Martens for that extra boost of courage, too.

But I do keep thinking about Modifiers. Will being white in a majority-nonwhite neighborhood mean more or less harassment? (My money's on less.) I've lost enough weight that I'm almost flat-chested - will that cut it down? I still don't dress like a Grown-Up, but I don't think I look under 30 anymore, either. Have I reached the Age of Invisibility yet? (Somehow I doubt it.)

In truth, I'm looking forward to a less car-dependent existence, but it doesn't mean I'm ignoring what can come with it.
As you know, Bob, I lived without a car for years. I didn't notice any more harassment, honestly.
My experience has been otherwise, but I've also walked around the new neighborhood and it feels pretty benign - only comment I drew was a fellow pointing out I'd left a size sticker on my new jeans. Thanked him and we both went our ways.
Nobody's talked about the shootings in any of the WisCon panels I've attended; but maybe I've been at the wrong ones.

Or... it's just too much of the same ol' and there's nothing new to say.
I read news stories like these and do not understand why this happens. I've read several studies that indicate that one in something like 12 to 15 men is a predator and something like half that number is a serial predator. I think I knew a few in college, but I was young and vastly ignorant back then and appearing as a sissy and a fop meant that some of them saw me as a target and the majority simply ignored and dismissed me. As a result, I never heard them speak of their ideas or their anger, and knew nothing of it beyond one young man I knew back then who talked of once thinking that way and then learning better.

For a long time, I assumed that men who held and acted on these attitudes were both very few in number and obvious in their creepiness, which seemed at odds with what I heard from the women I knew who talked about such problems. Then, I read various studies and understood that at absolute minimum one in 30 men is a serial rapist and well more than that number regularly inflict many lesser miseries on the women around them. As someone who has had the same small, close, and carefully chosen social circle for almost 20 years, I largely only see this online and in the news media and so remain baffled, horrified, and most of all wishing there was some way to help make certain that far fewer boys grew up to be predators on women. Perhaps all I am trying to say is that as someone who has not been the target of this mixture of rage and entitlement, I am deeply sad that so many others have.
Thank you for pointing me towards the #YesAllWomen hashtag. I don't have a Twitter account, but I re-posted some of the more on-point tweets over on my Facebook.

Where oddly enough the only "likes" have been from two of my feminist friends. Even my most "feminist" dude friends rarely click Like on my really feminist posts. *sigh*
Yes. Well said. But what is the age of invisibility? I'm 60 years old with grey hair. I learned along the way to dress down to avoid attracting attention. I don't ever display cleavage or wear heels. Rarely wear dresses. Slacks are always baggy. Minimal makeup. Now the leerers are paunchy and wrinkled. I guess no matter what you wear, if you're female, you're prey.
I couldn't tell you. I'm 44 with only the first few strands of grey, and I still dress fairly youthfully, though not typically showing a lot of cleavage or with skirts more than a couple inches above the knee, when I wear skirts, though usually it's jeans). Rarely any makeup beyond lip gloss (maybe a swipe of mascara, otherwise can't be arsed), never heels (my bunions refuse). But I'm thin and my clothes follow the contours of my body. I hear the "invisibility" most from fat women who describe their own style as "dowdy" or "frumpy", and they say the reduction in catcalls comes with an inability to get the attention of sales clerks when they need help.

I have to agree with you - no matter what, someone will still think of us as prey.
The #YesAllWomen hashtag is a comfort, though tragic that there's SO much casual abuse.

Women being attractive seems to be essential to all men, even ones with no possible sexual interest in us. I was unamused to see a comment from a gay male author planning to attend the UK Meet that he hoped the place wouldn't be full of "minging old women" because, I guess, he deserves to be surrounded only by pleasant scenery. So it appears we are supposed to be theoretically fuckable even for people who wouldn't touch us with a long stick.
And, what's more, we're expected to SMILE.

I have pretty much reached the age of invisibility. Did so some years back, actually. And you know, I never really thought that much of this applied to me even when I was younger, but thinking back, it did, and it does. I've always been someone very capable of taking care of myself. Pretty fearless (sometimes foolishly so, given the circumstances I was in). But yes, I've been groped, talked smack about, laughed off inappropriate behaviours and words in an effort to make them stop, and so on, and so on. And it's none of it okay. And my acceptance of inappropriate behaviours as 'just the way it is' is finished.
Once upon a time, I found myself saying, "If I give you my number, my boyfriend will beat my ass."

*had no boyfriend*

It worked. (Finally.) That's the only mildly positive thing I can say about it.

Edited at 2014-05-25 08:58 pm (UTC)