Monday, May 26, 2014

16 Reasons I Need Feminism #YesAllWomen

Update:

After originally posting this, I was met with surprise. Why was I prompted to share my story, now, on a random blog that almost no one reads? This was not a reaction I was expecting. I knew it might be met with negativity, but not surprise or confusion. Naturally, I was angry.

I still think I had a right to be angry. However, I don't think I should be shocked at the surprise or angry with the person who was surprised. My anger should have been directed at society because that surprised reaction is a just another symptom of the misogyny and sexism we deal with on a daily basis. I don't mean to say that the surprise itself is sexist or misogynistic or negative in any way. But the feeling exists because sharing a story that is so deeply personal and ultimately sexual in nature, goes against what we are taught is the norm, and that norm is based upon a society that accepts sexist and misogynist behaviors as normal behaviors. Don't mistake this statement as one that means if you respond with surprise, you're a sexist jerk. Most of us have at least engaged in some action or thought a certain way because of the society. But we must admit there's a problem when it is still okay for a to boast about his sexual conquests, but for a woman to do so... tsk tsk. And for me to share the mere fact that I was sexually assaulted is deemed surprising at best.

So why did I choose to share my story, on my random blog that boasts perhaps fifteen readers at best? As I said yesterday (below), I'd hidden long enough. And in the wake of the Isla Vista tragedy along with the #YesAllWomen Twitter campaign, I felt I had to share my story. If there ever was a time, it was now. Rodger's actions stemmed from misogyny, and with the help of social media, women (and men because let's be real: misogyny ultimately affects women and men) were standing up to fight against it. We can't take back what Rodger did, but we can speak up and hope to, in the very least, educate at least one person.

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Trigger Warning: After the list, there may be potentially traumatic material.

I've been criticized for being a feminist. I've been told it's offensive. I don't know how many times someone has said something along the lines of "So you hate men?"

Being a feminist isn't always easy. Being a woman isn't easy. So to the naysayers, the questioners... here's a brief list of reasons why I'm a feminist (1. As per the title, this was inspired by #YesAllWomen 2. Don't bother to read any further if you're bothered by foul language, the truth, or you're bother by the word sex as it relates to me*):

  1. I'm tired of being afraid to walk alone in dark parking lots. I still avoid it if possible, AND I check the back seat before I start the car.
  2. I'm tired of being told I should know better than to walk in alone in dark parking lots. Seriously. How about people don't rape and murder other people? 
  3. I've been called a slut, and on many occasions I've been called a tease. Ironically, I'd only ever kissed two people in my entire lifetime at the time of my slut-shaming. And all those times I've been called a tease? I was a responsible sexually active adult. And keep in mind, these are the only times I know about. I'm sure that dude I kicked out of my apartment probably told at least one person I was a bitch and a tease or some sort of variation of one or both. Cool beans if he didn't, but he was super pissed at me like he had the right to stay at my apartment. I know we fooled around, but that does not mean you deserve to or have some God given right to sleep in my bed because you don't want to walk home. If you didn't want to walk home, you shouldn't have come over to my apartment. He also refused to speak with me the next day at work. Pretty sure I was a bitch tease whore bag in his mind.
  4. I still don't know the exact amount of cleavage that is okay for each and every single situation. I'm also unsure as to why it matters (to a certain degree of course). I wish I could just put on some pants, a shirt, and some shoes without worrying about my fucking cleavage. 
  5. I am a vessel for babies. "Why haven't you had a baby yet, Julie? Will you ever? When? You'll never be able to afford it." First of all, why the fuck do you care? You're not my spouse or my vagina or me. Second, I think I know what I mean by the word "afford" as it relates to my situation. I'm not a dumb ass. 
  6. I'm also afraid of being alone in stairwells and public restrooms. Unfortunately, you just have to roll the dice on these. Using stairs and peeing are pretty necessary, especially if you work in a public place.
  7. 70%. Enough said.
  8. My husband and male friends can't cry or else they are "pussies" or "babies." Men have feelings too. They also have tear ducts and the stuff to make tears. If men weren't supposed to cry, I'm pretty sure evolution would have sorted that shit out by now. But maybe I'm wrong since it's 2014, and I'm writing this list.
  9. The rest of the "real man" trend.
  10. The "real woman" trend.
  11. While explaining my absence due to an unexplainable illness (with doctor's note in hand!) an employer once asked if my doctor had considered if I had an eating disorder. 
  12. While explaining my absence due to an unexplainable illness (with doctor's note in hand!) an employer once asked if my doctor had considered if I had an eating disorder because he was concerned about me, and society taught him that this was an okay way to express his genuine concern.  
  13. I don't want my nieces or nephews or future children (if I have them!) to deal with this shit.
  14. This list will bother people because I've talked about sex, and ladies don't talk like that (*If you're my mom, dad, step-dad, brother, other family, I get it. You are all asexual beings to me. Also, I totally warned you at the top.).
  15. Because I have to explain this shit.

Obviously, this list is not representative of all of my reasons. Explaining feminism and the whys and hows takes awhile. However, there is one issue, I'd like to add. I only alluded to it in my list because I like to be lighthearted when writing, even with some serious issues.

However, I've hidden in the shadows long enough. In light of the #YesAllWomen twitter campaign: because I was sexually assaulted.

Very few know this about me. Why? Because I still carry the shame. I know I shouldn't, but I do. I carry shame because it happened. I carry shame because I didn't report it. I carry shame (and guilt) because I wasn't raped; I was only sexually assaulted.

I need feminism because I should not feel ashamed, especially for the above reasons. But I do, and so do other women and men across the globe (Yes, men are sexually assaulted and raped.). I don't know how to stop feeling the way I feel. I just know, it all started when I woke up the next day. I realized what happened, and I felt ashamed. In hopes of making myself feel better, I talked to a friend. My friend blamed me-- I was drunk.

But I was in MY dorm room. I was sitting in MY bed. I admit, I allowed this person to sit in my bed. We also had a history. HOWEVER. It was history. The decision had been made-- we could not date because of circumstance. And, I mean this very seriously, it was in my dorm room-- my bed was basically my couch. So, the bed, the history, the alcohol, none of it was an invitation. In fact, even if there had been any invitation, it was revoked when I said no along with other variations of no.

So why do I still feel ashamed? Because victim blaming still happens. She* was drunk. She should have known better. She shouldn't have dressed that way. She shouldn't have flirted. She shouldn't... live a normal life? It wouldn't surprise me if after sharing this story, I receive at least one asinine comment about it being my fault. In the very least, I expect at least one person to tell me I should not have shared this story. But, it needed to be shared because if we don't share our stories, we perpetuate the myths-- that it's her (our) fault. We continue to imply that the best thing to do is to not report it (If you don't want to report it, I respect your wishes because I didn't report what happened to me so I have no room to shame you for staying hidden).

So, in short, this is why I'm a feminist and a crusader for equality. 

*But what about men? I don't know what victim blaming sounds like when a man is sexually assaulted or raped. I don't know because sexism and misogyny makes it more difficult to report such a crime if you are a man.

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