rape culture

Being A Girl: A Brief Personal History of Violence

The author is white woman, living in Toronto. I am a white, middle-class young woman, living in Montréal. I have lived through variations of all of these stories, except for the death threats (only because I am not a loud, prolific feminist writer. Yet.)

I view these stories as par for the course. Worse, I am grateful that this is BETTER than the States, where being female gets you shot (Planned Parenthood, anyone?). In our two countries, supposed bastions of democracy and equality, this is totally normal. Acceptable.

One of my friends, another white middle-class girl, has told me with a straight face that there aren’t prevalent gender issues in our society. She wasn’t being naive. She had honestly NEVER experienced anything like what I or Anne in her post below have experienced.

I was stunned at my friend’s innocence. Then I was kind of envious. Imagine a world where this shit isn’t the norm? I can’t.

The Belle Jar

1.

I am six. My babysitter’s son, who is five but a whole head taller than me, likes to show me his penis. He does it when his mother isn’t looking. One time when I tell him not to, he holds me down and puts penis on my arm. I bite his shoulder, hard. He starts crying, pulls up his pants and runs upstairs to tell his mother that I bit him. I’m too embarrassed to tell anyone about the penis part, so they all just think I bit him for no reason.

I get in trouble first at the babysitter’s house, then later at home.

The next time the babysitter’s son tries to show me his penis, I don’t fight back because I don’t want to get in trouble.

One day I tell the babysitter what her son does, she tells me that he’s just a little boy, he doesn’t know…

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Follow-up to sexting post: a cake rant

For starters, if any of you haven’t read my post about how I sexted a guy (“V”) who lived out of town, changed my mind, and then spent 2 months dealing with his unalterable expectations, regardless of my sledge-hammer techniques to try convince him that I really and truly had changed my mind, which culminated in his visiting Montreal, and a very awkward date, I suggest y’all do. Its rather amusing, and necessary context for what follows.

I wrote how Coach and Nene, to my surprise, seemed unfazed by V’s behaviour, “Vanilla, you wouldn’t understand, you’re not a guy. You sexting him, changing your mind and being a tease… that was playing hard to get. Of course he wouldn’t listen to anything you say after that point!”

Approximately 50% of the responses I’ve received (mostly guys, ranging in age from 25-50, and some women too) have repeated variations of Coach and Nene’s statements.

  • That’s just how guys are, they might hear you but they won’t believe you – you were interested once, and changed your mind, why wouldn’t you change it again?” OR;
  • You shouldn’t have opened that door if you didn’t want him to come a’knocking” OR;
  • Lesson learned, next time you won’t be a tease” OR my personal favorite, from my recently affianced straight-as-an-arrow accountant friend Brown Socks;
  • “Well you texted a guy for two days saying you were going to lick his balls and bang him like a snare drum… you could see why he might question your inclinations.”

You guys. NO. NO NO NO NO NO NO. I was so taken aback by these responses that I went on a rant about this sextaster at the cafeteria at work… while a VP was present at the lunch table. She did not look impressed, nor did she participate in that conversation. #careerboostingmoves

Here is my issue with all of these responses – they place the responsibility for V’s unacceptable behaviour squarely on my shoulders. They imply (subtly or explicitly) that the wrong I did (sext + flip-flop into being a tease) is the justification for his wrong (being tone-deaf and pursuing his agenda regardless of the number of times I told him I was no longer down for any hookup/romantic quasi-relationship activity).

Y’all. Two wrongs do not make a right. This is not the same thing as telling me that I should have known better than to skip wearing sunscreen, and that I should’ve therefore expected to get burned. In the sunscreen scenario, there is one human capable of perceptiveness, intuition and rational thought (me), and one inanimate object (the sun). The sun’s behaviour is a constant, and the only person capable of altering the outcome of the situation is myself, by applying sunscreen or not. There is a direct correlation between my behaviour and the outcome. Unless everyone responding to my sextaster is implying that V is no more evolved than an inanimate object, and is incapable of discerning when he is inflicting discomfort, the sunscreen analogy falls short.

I hate to go there, but these responses are worryingly close to the whole “she should’ve known better than to wear provoking clothing” argument. My poor decision in sexting V is NOT JUSTIFICATION for his subsequent blithe disregard for 2 months’ worth of my statements assuring him that I had changed my mind and was 100% not willing to pursue that road.

One of my friends, a woman, came up with the following analogy.

Let’s say I had promised V to bake him a cake (not an apple pie, y’all let’s stay focussed on the discussion at hand): the best banana-chocolate cake ever, with Nutella frosting. If I’d spent 2 days boasting about how this cake would be the cake to end all cakes, and how much I’d enjoy baking it, V would be pretty pumped. I think we can all agree that if, soon after my promise, I changed my mind and told him that I wasn’t going to bake the cake, he would pretty sad, and even a little upset that I had wasted his time, and broken my promise. All of which he would be entitled to do since breaking my promise is an uncool thing to do. Possibly, he might spend a little bit of time assessing why I had changed my mind, and if there was anything he could do to change my mind. Eventually, however, we would all expect V to accept that no cake was coming his way, and either go look elsewhere for some cake, or accept this unintended dietary restriction.

What we would not deem to be appropriate behaviour on V’s behalf is if he listened to my repeal of the cake offer, said he understood, but then responded, “Imma still show up at your place with birthday candles and matches, it’s ok if you don’t have any cake though, the candles will be enough, I sure do love cake though, but don’t feel bad.” If he then continued to plan and discuss obliquely his interest in eating cake with me, for two months, despite my frequent reminders that I was not only refusing to provide cake, but I didn’t want anything to do with cake, we can agree that at the very least he is an annoying potential guest, and at the worst, some kind of passive-aggressive manipulator.

Cake, sex, buttons, guacamole, back-rubs… it doesn’t matter what I teased V about.

Like, really.

#freakedoutbymyfriends