#YesAllWomen, Including Me

I’m sure by now you’ve heard of or seen the #YesAllWomen tag on Twitter. It’s been highlighted by Time, on MSN, and the feed has been running since Friday. I don’t generally participate in hashtags or social commentary or political views. We’re taught to fear what we put out on the internet, but this tag is born of fear, born from the experiences of women, strangers and friends alike.

So I joined in. My dash was flooded by women and men retweeting my comments. I felt connected, and then horrified because we were connecting over abuse, tragedy, being told we are worthless because we are women. A lot of hate and backlash rose on that tag, from strangers belittling our experiences, to telling us to STFU, to responding to our accounts of being threatened with harm and death with threats of harm and death.

So I raised my voice.

b/c street harassment isn’t a compliment, and it’s sure as hell not a privilege.

b/c the women who AREN’T harassed FEEL UNWORTHY, DEVALUED AND ASHAMED. Never feel bad for a lack of NEGATIVE attention.

because YOU ARE WORTHY OF RESPECT, AUTONOMY and LOVE. Yet we’re constantly told we’re worthless.

What was more heartbreaking to me was realizing I had stories to tell as well, not just blanket statements of self-worth and self-love.

I’m constantly being told sexist jokes or being harassed by male customers. Would you tell your daughter that vibrator joke?

An older man was complaining about the price of batteries and told me it must be because of our (women’s) “vibrating companions.” Would you say that to your daughter? Your granddaughter?

No, the answer to “Did you find everything you needed?” is not “No, what’s your phone number?” or “Yeah, you and me on a plane to Mexico.”

My smile is not a token you deserve simply because you asked for one. Especially not if you DEMAND it from me.

I owe you nothing. Not my time, not my energy, not my smile, or my attention, or my body, or my love.

I will not “lighten up” when you make a sexist joke or comment at MY expense. I may work in retail, but I will burn you.

Because basic body parts are sexualized for women, but not for men. Should I cover my ankles, or are they too distracting?

Because I was told by MY FEMALE MANAGER that I couldn’t wear a tank top off clock b/c I was a DISTRACTION to my male coworkers.

Customers wear less. My epidermal layer of skin is not a distraction. It is SKIN. It’s also not my job to police my male coworkers’ actions. I won’t cover my shoulders because you think the joint connection my arm to my torso is an issue.

Yes, I graduated college. No, I didn’t graduate with an MRS. No I don’t need a husband to “take care of me.” Thanks for asking

My destiny is not merely to be someone’s wife.

If you ask if I’m married, and I say no, your next question should not be “Why not? You’re pretty enough.”

How about “Because it’s none of your business.”

And those are just the recent experiences.I’ve collected the tweets in Storify, which you can see here.

When I was in college, my roommate and I went into a Blockbuster looking for a movie. This guy followed us through the entire store, hovered as we checked out and followed us out. We drove out of that parking lot and took every back road we could to make sure he didn’t follow us to our college.

The same thing happened at a Target, where five guys in a Jeep honked and yelled at us and followed us into the parking lot. Did we “deserve it” because we were sitting in a car?

Last year, when I was in NYC, I ran around that city like I owned it. But when it was time to go back to the apartment, and I got on the subway, and I rode to the end of the line, that fear crept in. It was just me and an older male on the train. I left the station. He followed. Okay, well, there is only one exit after all. I turned my block. He followed. He stayed behind me right up to the apartment door.

My thoughts bent to murder. To rape. To being taken, beaten, robbed.

And then he held the door open for me and I realized the one thought that never crossed my mind was that he lived in the same complex.

There’s a lot of fear, and no, not everyone harbors the same fear or as much. Not all men are violent.

But this fear promotes two things: That all women are weak and all men are rapists.

Imagine you have a bowl of M&Ms in front of you. 10% of them are poisoned. Go on, eat a handful. Not all M&Ms will kill you. -TheFrogMan.

For every tweet on #YesAllWomen, there are five more ladies too afraid or too ashamed to speak out. It’s all fear, fear we’re letting perpetuate. Do you want this legacy for your sons and daughters?  A world built on hate? On violence?

I’d like to think I’m a self-reliant gal, but I have this fear. It creeps through the cracks of my confidence. No, it’s not all men, but it’s enough, and yes, all women have encountered them. Myself included.

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