Wednesday, June 25, 2014

An Open Letter to #YesAllWomen

To the Ladies of #YesAllWomen,

I understand what you are trying to do. I understand your fight and why you are so passionate about the discussion surrounding rape. I've known many women who are victims of sexual assault, and I agree that it has gotten out of hand. Well actually, that isn't entirely true. It has always been out of hand, women have faced this for centuries, and it certainly past time to really have the conversation about how to fix the problem.

In my opinion, there are 2 very different discussions that need to be had. One is about rapists; men who force sexual acts on unwilling women. The other, I wouldn't consider sexual assault, but I would consider it inappropriate and unwanted attention. I'm want to talk about that 2nd one 1st.

I hadn't ever really stopped to think about this until recently, and I suppose I have #yesallwomen to thank for that. I came across an article that was written in response to the trending hashtag that has been blowing up the internet since the shooting in California a few weeks ago. The writer in this article goes on to explain 2 situations with men where she felt incredibly uncomfortable. As I read it, I began to recall a few situations I found myself in years ago. I was uncomfortable, yes, but I never feared for my safety. Some of the questions this particular writer addressed was how do we change this? How should I have reacted? How should I tell my young daughter to respond in such a situation? I fear that those of you who are using #yesallwomen to tell your stories are also stuck on the idea that women shouldn't have to do anything. The women are not at fault, and I think the vast majority of people in this country would agree with that, and I am in no way blaming the victims, but women are also very capable of stopping this behavior. Over a decade ago a friend and I went to a club to relive our candy raver days see our favorite DJ. We were standing in the back, and some guy pinched my ass. I turned around and got in his face, told him to "never fucking touch me again" while his friends snickered next to him (I should point out that this was during my angry years). When I turned to walk away, he smacked me on the ass, so hard that I had a red hand print when I got home hours later. I could've complained to anyone who would listen that men should be taught that they can't just touch any woman they want. I could've blamed and pointed fingers and been a victim who felt assaulted. Instead, I turned around and clocked him with a right cross; a weapon I've perfected the use of. He stumbled back totally stunned. His friends gaped at him, then at me. Then the bouncer who had seen the whole thing go down threw the little shit and his loser friends out of the club. What this guy did is never ok, and though he probably had parents who taught him better, he saw something he wanted and decided to take a chance on it. In the past, I have also told men who were hitting on me that I was not interested and they needed to go away. Some are shocked, some get pissy, some are totally embarrassed. But nobody gets to touch me without my consent and I make that apparent. And having a pretty little blonde girl scream obscenities at you is embarrassing enough to make you walk away. But how do men know when they have my consent if I don't tell them? What about the guys that I did want to pay attention to me? Should I instead have to tell them that they have permission to see if I respond positively to their touch? Part of flirting and dating is touching. How would a guy know if a girl would accept his advances before he attempts them? He wouldn't. We can't have it both ways. I feel like it is safe to assume that a lot of you who are screaming the loudest about "teaching boys not to rape" would never be happy with any man touching them ever. Maybe you don't realize that some touching is absolutely wanted, but if men aren't allowed or too afraid to try us ladies will never know which ones we like. You continue to scream that we need to teach boys not to rape, but how exactly do you propose we do that? I can certainly teach my sons that no means no and that you can't touch girls who don't want you touching them, but what about the millions of grown men in the world who have never had anyone put them in their place? For centuries women have been abused and taken advantage of, and as history would prove, things only change when women stand up and make it change. We are a powerful force, and rather than screaming about how it isn't our fault and men should just change, we should show them what the penalty is for mistreating us.

The other conversation that I think needs to be had is that of rape. The thing is, men who are willing to rape aren't the type that you can reason with and talk to and "teach". Rapists are criminals, and criminals break the law without regard to anyone else. You can keep saying that we need to "teach boys not to rape" but what makes you think that we aren't already doing that? We teach our children not to murder or steal or rape, yet there are still people who do those things. They are criminals. The only way to deal with criminals is to throw the book at them or stop them in the act. That's why I am so appalled at the outrage that the newly crowned Miss USA. Formally Miss Nevada, Nia Sanchez, is a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. In her interview she spoke of the importance of women learning self-defense to protect themselves. Instead of lauding her for pushing women to take care of themselves, you've attacked her because you think she is blaming the victims. You continue with the rhetoric that we should be teaching boys not to rape, as if that is the only solution. Women are not to blame when they are raped, but even if so, shouldn't they be able to defend themselves and save the years of pain that follow an assault of such magnitude? You can shout until you are blue in the face, but people are going to stop listening to you. If you really want less women to be victims of rape, give them the tools to keep it from happening. "Teach" boys grown men not to rape by showing them that women refuse to be victims. We are not going to continue to be assaulted. We are going to take matters into our own hands and protect ourselves. It may seem like I'm promoting violence, but shouldn't we be fighting fire with fire?



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