Sometimes the world makes me so sick that I want to fold myself, like a crisp sheet, into an incorporeal, unnoticeable flatness.
Something about the college experience that has always bothered me is the sexual aspect. Wait, course correct: the sexual-social aspect. Wait again:
I’m taking a course right now entitled “Sex, Power & Politics,” and that, that is what I’m trying to put my thumb on. That is the point on which I am trying to place my thumb. Words. Thoughts. Anger.
I don’t know if I have the permission of an extremely brave young woman at my campus to repost her story, because her words, as are the words of any person, are hers to own and share and defend. EDIT: She wants people to read her story. It’s here. Don’t even think of commenting on it until you’ve read the entire thing.
In her case, she will have to defend them, her words. And it is absolute bullshit that she, or any other person (let’s just even remove gender from this), would have to be the one actively defending herself from the truths of a crime in which she was the one who was attacked, robbed of her personhood and treated like a rag doll (although in her case, the comparison is more apt to that of a blow-up sex doll).
Except a doll can’t feel pain, and shame, and the kind of hollowness that follows after being absolutely gutted by someone you’d grown to trust, and even if you or I can’t understand that trust, or her immediate actions afterward, the question to be asking isn’t “Why didn’t she report it?”, but rather “Why did she feel she couldn’t/shouldn’t report it?”
I don’t have a list of statistics to quote about rape—that violation that is always equated on the same scale as murder, as in the actual taking of physical life, so what does that say about what rape as a crime means, in theory, to our society—but I think that even a quick Google search on these numbers would be telling.
Forget Google. Read this.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be a woman in the world. And yes, gender binaries are falling apart, but as it stands, there’s still Men and Women, or as much of mankind sees it, Us vs. Them. Why should we accomodate the needs of women. Why shouldn’t they just take the opportunities they have. Ladies, sexism is dead, so what’s your excuse for your shortcomings. The glass ceiling is shattered. Work harder. Make sacrifices. Lean in.
This comes, nights after a comedian on national television joked about actresses baring their bodies in the name of art, about the lengths so many women go to fit certain body images. “The flu” is deadly, which is evident to even one person who’s seen a living skeleton complain about the weight of her skin.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t men with these same issues. This isn’t to say that some women are naturally more this or that than another, or that there aren’t women who don’t give a shit. But I’m tired of a world in which people tell others that they’re too fat, not curvy, pretty but not beautiful, cute but not sexy, words words words words words.
I’m also tired of a world in which women tell other women that there’s no need for feminism anymore because hey, they’re having a great time, there’s no inequalities around them. Great. Preach it for us sister, why should it concern you that just because you have XX chromosomes, you’re automatically fair game for any attack on your sexual “morals,” your choice in attire, your likes and dislikes and personal opinions.
Anita Sarkeesian gets it. Taylor Swift, in her little Ivory Tower built not of intellectual detachment but of bloated, selfish fantasies, doesn’t. Feminism isn’t about propping women up above men. It’s about not being patronized when you try to do things that the “men” do. It’s about living a life without having to deal with this bullshit.
This is all without touching upon the hypersexualization that many women of color go through too. No, I don’t want to “love you long time,” you asshole. And the day I pant a seductive “Me so horny” to anyone is the day I cleave my head off my own shoulders.
The knowledge that people expect me to be certain things—
I am a young woman of Asian-American descent. My hair is dyed dark red and my eyes are brown. I like Thin Mints and Jameson, “Game of Thrones” and “Parks and Rec,” Queens of the Stone Age and Annie. I work hard. I work a lot. I also spend some days sleeping until noon, and some nights in unknown, dimly lit and crowded houses, ignoring homework and work work in order to throw down sickeningly sweet store brand soda and vodka that comes in plastic handles.
My body is mine. My mind is mine.
When friends turn to me and say “Isn’t she such a slut,” I want to slap them but I don’t, because it’s too much work to explain that just because someone’s wearing a short skirt or a tight shirt doesn’t mean that she’s wearing them for you, or that she should have to wear them for anyone’s enjoyment, or that she’s inviting your goddamned opinion. Can you look? Of course you can fucking look, because that’s what eyes are for, but saying that someone looks good and that someone’s an object specifically meant to pander to or offend your personal sexual desires are two different things.
Some days, I am that girl; will you say the same thing about me, dear friend?
The same conversation applies to words like trashy or classy, sexy or darling, pretty or ugly. The discourse around body image bounces from dichotomy to dichotomy, but the only thing that remains constant is that everybody feels like shit on some level, and then passes the shit along.
Someone on Tumblr anonymously called my roommate a cunt, a word that’s apparently applicable to nine-year-old girls now, a word that OF COURSE doesn’t have any gendered connotations behind it. This happened because my roommate challenges peoples’ expectations and perceptions about the world. This scares people. People get defensive.
But they should be more scared of what they’re defending.
There’s so many threads of conversation that I want to start, that I want to have, including one on cultural appropriation and/or plain old racism (because of a certain incident at my school; but trust, it happens everywhere!!!), but I don’t have the time or the patience to follow them all out to their ends.
I’m tired of all of this bullshit. Every time I hear about somebody in an abusive relationship or listen to men (and it’s almost always men) talk about the kind of women they’re into
(“I really like, like, half-Asian girls, because I like the exotic look, but I could never go full Asian; but I mean, that inevitably happens”) (I had to clench my fists instead of smashing them into his drunkenly jabbering mouth)
or rate women, who are already balancing on a wire that tells us do/don’t do this based on a system that has been created by men and which still largely favors men,
this has to end one day. It has to. Because this is the last frontier of bigotry, the last shield behind which people can duck when they feel threatened. “She’s just a stupid whore.” “She’s so goddamn emotional.” “She can’t relax and get over it.” “She doesn’t get the joke.”
Oh, I get it. I just ain’t laughing—but when these institutionalized prejudices begin to crumble apart, you better believe I’ll be at the front lines whooping it up.
(Image via sirkusar; no original source found)