I have a routine in the mornings, after a cuddle with our early-rising cat, I pad downstairs, make coffee and check my email, Twitter, and Facebook. The volume of junk email I receive makes the email check a nice warm-up, easily done with heavy lids and a not entirely alert mind. Twitter is my favorite, my circle of friends there are wildly passionate and quirky. They educate, challenge, and fascinate me. Whether it’s chatter about a tv show or advocating for gun reform, I discover new viewpoints and humbling daring. For the most part I am safe in what I tweet about; avoiding perilous ledges of conflict because I have a business and I know that sometimes my very liberal Pacific Northwest roots put my views in conflict with what might be the majority. It isn’t worth the dynamic—UNTIL IT IS.
Yesterday morning as I tried to avoid the trending box on Facebook I saw ‘Campus Shooting’ again and again. I clicked back to Twitter. My feed was a sea of one hashtag #YesAllWomen I didn’t think anything of it until a voice I respect retweeted a rush of #YesAllWomen tweets. This image popped up:
There is nothing new about this image, nothing revolutionary about women in various states of undress on magazine covers. What has changed for me is that my daughters, all three of them, are asking why.
“Mama, why is she naked?”
“Mom, why on earth is she in inappropriate stuff on the cover?”
“How come the girls are always showing their stuff and boys are in suits?” they waited, watching my face.
After stammering that the women do that because it is what they feel they have to do to compete I recoiled. I don’t want that for them. I decided that I was going to draw a line and when that line was crossed I would speak up, I would do whatever it took to not be a part of the other side of that line.
You got it, I’ll take them. Because I don’t know when this became acceptable as a way to sell shoes.
I began reading the tweets, not yet understanding that they sprang from the campus shooting story.
RT: @stefgraser #yesallwomen because guys can be shirtless at practice but I can’t run in a sports bra because it “distracts them”
RT @MissLaurenMoss #Yesallwomen because people still think feminism is about hating men
RT: @thatkristen Misogyny and the mistreatment of women has become accepted by men AND women. We’re all guilty. #YesAllWomen
RT: @MommyNaniBooboo 1 in 4 women is a victim of sexual assault… and #YesAllWomen live with the fear that they’ll be that 1.
RT: @LeahMeyerhoff Because society is more comfortable with people telling jokes about rape than it is with people revealing they have been raped #YesAllWomen
RT: @AmyVernon #YesAllWomen because every woman I know has *at least* once in her life feared she would be raped. And too many have been assaulted.
I jumped into the conversation.
Then I had a man attack me, saying that the real issue is that men can’t be victims. I calmly suggested that maybe the problem isn’t that there is one problem, maybe, just maybe the problem is a pervasive attitude that things are certain way, boys will be boys, beauty comes with attention, man up, don’t be a pussy.
He told me I wasn’t smart enough to understand what he was saying. I suggested his anger be directed at a larger population than women. He stopped talking to me.
He was too busy with this:
Then I received a private message from an incredibly strong friend: Oh my God…that I’m sitting here sobbing and thinking that I can’t let my kid find out on Twitter that I was raped..and that idiot is worried that he can’t be allowed to be a victim?
I am a survivor, even saying that bothers some people.
What now? Where do we go from a conversation that some are too afraid to participate in, others are worried that it unfairly villainizes them, and others still think that it is just more complaining? Start quietly. Sit somewhere and ponder what it means to have it suggested that the onus is on women to make sure that they don’t incite unmanageable lust in a man. Or that being too attractive could mean losing your job, or that we are raising boys who think it’s the responsibility of teenage girls to keep them from feeling tempted. Isn’t it time that we worked toward a reality that had clear lines.
For a long time I was ok with saying that I could strategize my way around things if a client had to “hear it from a man” and that I could swallow my frustration at the incessant objectification of women as a sales ploy. I’m not anymore.
I am a feminist. I strenuously believe that men and women are equal. We are different, sure, but that does not make us not equal.
I shouldn’t be afraid—
afraid to walk alone
afraid to speak my mind
afraid to believe in equality
afraid to call out hate…
and yet I am, which makes it that much more important that I insist on supporting the #YesAllWomen wave.
Tagged: #YesAllWomen, daughters, media, rape culture
Out of this horror has emerged some enlightening, and ignorance. This conversation NEEDS to go on.
It does. So twisted that I am still scared.
We’re reading each other at the same time!
(You gave me chills. Good, important words, sister. Love you for them!)
Gossamer ties of friendship and strength. Glitter is stronger than people think.
It took me a while to learn where the hashtag had stemmed from as well. I pondered whether it was appropriate to flame the fires of one aspect of the case while there was so much more at play regarding the shooter. I read through the stream with all the same feeling you had… then I felt triggered, then I felt scared, then I felt overwhelmed by the ultimate commonality we as women share, then I jumped in.
I love you.
Thank you for jumping in and for being your thoughtful, compassionate, and brave self. xo
The comment about not being smart enough to get what he was saying…for whatever reason, that was the biggest violation for me; then, like you, following the other comments that he left…
I’m with you. 100%. It’s time to stand without apologizing, speak without whispering, let the sunshine into the darkest parts of this world.
Yes, the casual dismissal is more hurtful than the other lowball, dive bar slurs.
Shining my light, friend.
How to tell/teach my girls is overwhelming to me. Knowing that they don’t have complete control over what could happen. What might happen. What did happen…to me.
I’ll tell you what pisses me off – that I have to do this… My husband(sweet guy) bought me a reflector thingy to wear when I run since I run well before sunrise. He hates that I run in all black and ‘can’t be seen’ and worries for my safety.
I told him to take it back.
I told him that it is my job to watch for cars or bikes or any vehicle – that I yield for them and always assume I cannot be seen. Because I don’t want to be seen – because of the men who can hang out on the paths, the teenage boys drunk by the park who’ve harassed me, the drunks coming home from the bars who follow me on their bikes if they see me. I carry pepper spray and a knife when I run. When I run. When I am just out for a nice run to keep my body strong..I carry weapons to protect myself because I fear that one day..again…I will be attacked.
But my husband – 6’5″ and 220 – he can wear a reflector at 5am when he runs to protect him from cars and nobody messes with him.
Fuck that shit.
I have no words after that, Tracy. I know exactly what you mean and boy it pisses me off.
Beautifully said, Amanda. Thank you for your quiet strength. And I mean quiet in the fierce sense.
That means a lot, Amy. I’ll be honest and let you know that women online, like yourself, help give me strength. None of this is easy to write or share, but nothing will change if we don’t. Thank you for contributing to an online alliance that makes it feel safer.
Love this! As the mother of a teen daughter, I hear myself teaching her how to stay safe but realizing at the same time how much that same caution keeps us from doing what we want with life.
It’s time that female voices are heard and actually understood.
Exactly. I also think we need to find a way to get men involved. To turn this ship it’s going to take a hell of a lot of voices from all walks of life.
I just wanted to thank you for writing this. It’s really brave of you to put your opinion out there. I’m still working up the courage to write mine, but it’s so helpful to see that I’m not alone. Keep fighting the good fight.
The magic of talking about the moments when we felt alone or threatened is discovering that we really do have a lot of people right there with us. Thank you for this comment.
I just found out yesterday that a former member of our ‘leadership team’ told another member that I ‘dressed provocatively’. I guess wearing a sweater & skirt when you have a bra size bigger than an A cup was ‘provocative’ to him. Then he got fired for getting a DWI in a company car. I’m so glad he’s gone.