This is not a good time to be a woman. And the sad thing is, it’s probably the best time to be woman that there has ever been. There is little that makes me angrier than men who blindly hate women. Yes, men can be mistreated by women just like women are mistreated by men, but when they start to hate all women for what a few individuals have done to them, it makes me angry. Angrier than when women hate men for similar reasons, and this is because the hatred of men is not encouraged and condoned throughout history and we don’t live in a society that caters to it.
We live in a society that caters to mens’ needs. A society that encourages the mistreatment and exploitation of women. It encourages male attitudes of entitlement to women and the devaluing of women. We reduce women to trophies – prizes that men get when they manipulate them “correctly.” When men say they “don’t know how to talk to women” or “don’t know how to get women,” we’re all supposed to feel bad for them. Not that they should learn that women are people and you talk to them like a person and the concept of trying to “get women” is fucked up to begin with. But I don’t care what society tells them – the men who internalize these attitudes without question – that they “deserve” a woman and are entitled to her body, are just as much to blame as individuals as society is. The men who feel like they deserve a beautiful woman regardless of their own appearance. To the men who feel your time, attention, and body is worth the price of a drink. To the men who are angry at women for standing up for themselves for telling them they can’t have access to their body or for just not being interested. To the men who think it’s “silly” that women think they don’t have any power in these situations.
From the moment a man with this attitude offers to buy me a drink I have already lost. If I decline, he will be angry I rejected him and “didn’t even give him a chance” like he deserves. Immediately I’m the bitch who assumes all men have bad intentions. If I accept, he will be angry if I do not give him attention, as if I tricked him into buying me a drink. If I give him attention and have a conversation, if I ever want to leave that conversation, again I’m a bitch who stole a drink. So unless I end up giving this man my number or going home with him, I lose. And say I do go home with him, I now am expected to have sex with him, or again, I’m a tease or misled him. And if I actually do give him what he wants, now I’ve lost his respect and I’m something to be gotten rid of the next morning because I’m crazy and will be incredibly attached, of course.
Male anger towards women comes from the attitude that we owe them something and do not have the right to deny them that. I therefore have NO sympathy for these men who feel gypped by feminism or by women who stand up for themselves, or by women who deny themselves to men. Do not give me that bullshit “not all men” response because yes, MOST men will at the very least take advantage of situations in which they can coerce a woman, if not rape her, and YES ALL WOMEN have had negative experiences with men objectifying them and making them feel unsafe at the very least.
We absolutely do live in a culture that encourages men to coerce women into sex to feed their own egos. A culture that tells men that to feel masculine they have to be able to manipulate women into bed. That blames women for any part they can – they were “asking for it” by what the wore, how they acted, or how much they drank. That if they can’t protect themselves, it’s their own fault. A justice system that pities men for being accused of rape. Despite voices like mine, there are so many more voices screaming “but men.” Like the man who told me if I didn’t feel safe, I should carry a gun. Ignorant of the fact that most assaults are not aggressive attacks on the street but from someone you know, in the privacy of a home. Like the frustrated boy who rants that girls with boyfriends shouldn’t accept his offer of a drink. Like the man who whistled at my friend from a car window when she was walking alone at night. Like the guy who tells a sexist joke and when I tell him I don’t want to hear it says I “shouldn’t take myself so seriously.” Like the men who insist street harassment is a compliment. Like the woman who is cheated on and blames the new woman for being a whore, instead of her boyfriend, who is at fault. Like the new story of a rape I heard from a friend just this week that will go unreported because our justice system blames the victims, and she knows this. Like my friend, who calls me from out of state, who is being physically and verbally abused by her boyfriend. Like the new story of rape I hear just about once a month from someone close to me. And those who defend the rapists and say things like “it was a drunken situation” and “she seemed like she wanted to have a good time.” (Yes, I’ve heard people say these things myself.)
Ignorance is not an excuse, not innocent, not acceptable. “Not knowing” that you make women feel unsafe is not okay. Not understanding that women are not inferior to you and yours to take, that they are not some alien creature you have to manipulate into liking you is not okay. Being silent on the sidelines while your friends mistreat women and act like sexist assholes is not okay. Not choosing a side is not okay. As long as men are passive and leave the issue to women and disregard women as silly and oversensitive, nothing will change. Women will continue to be abused and mistreated and men will continue to blame them for it. We need a society that makes men feel just as terrified of putting their penises near a vagina as it makes women terrified of being raped. And we need more allies, because I’m damn tired of having to write blogs like this one.
Originally published on Aud Comments. Republished with permission.
Audrey Lentz is a poet, creative writer, and freelance writer and editor. On her blog, she writes about feminist issues, literature, and current events. Follow her on Twitter @audrey_lentz