“Margaret Atwood, the Canadian novelist, once asked a group of women at a university why they felt threatened by men. The women said they were afraid of being beaten, raped, or killed by men. She then asked a group of men why they felt threatened by women. They said they were afraid women would laugh at them.” ―Molly Ivins
*Reading this makes me incredibly sad, and a little angry.
Growing up in an abusive home, I was never truly afraid of my father. Most of his threats were empty and the few times he came close enough to possibly hurting my mother or brother, I would physically intervene and put them behind me. I was nine/ten/eleven, and I never once thought that protecting them was wrong. One day he pushed too far and I knocked him on his ass. I was already well into my teens at that point. Eventually, my mother was afraid I’d kill him, which is ultimately what gave her the strength to begin the process of leaving him.
People used to ask my mother all the time if she was afraid for me. “Aren’t you worried or afraid of the guys she dates trying to take advantage or harm her?” Her response was, “Nope. They should be more afraid of her. Just because they’re taller or weigh more doesn’t mean she isn’t prepared to take them down. I trust her judgment.” This conversation came up a little too often with her colleagues and friends. It played into the gender roles that are “expected”; hell, they still are. Telling a group of women she trusted me to make the right decisions and take someone out, if need be, was quite alarming to these privileged individuals whose daughters moved across the country (or to another country, entirely) to get away from their overbearing behavior. Not all girls/women are delicate little flowers. Some of us know better, and aren’t into being treated in such a manner. I will stare a man down if he acts like I can’t do things without assistance. If I need an assist, I will ask for it, but I dislike presumptions of weakness.
Why do we, as a society, (still) act like women, by proxy, are automatically victims? Why do women feel victimized enough to say these are their fears of men? Those are very big fears for women to have. They should be concerns, as opposed to fears. It makes me question who these women are and what they’ve already experienced in order to feel this way.
Yes, I know women who have been raped and sexually assaulted, and many of them blame themselves. They are often too afraid to report the incident and between the police and the legal system, they are failed by both from start to finish. This is NOT acceptable. We cannot blame ourselves for the actions of violent men. While I’m on the subject, why aren’t men smart enough to stop fearing whether or not they will be laughed at when their true fear is being rejected? Why do men think they’re owed sex because you agreed to have dinner with them? There’s no meal on this planet that is deserving of sex as a “reward” or as “payment”. Get the fuck out of here with that thought process! Obviously, not all men view it this way. There are good men in this world, but far too many do think like this. We have to keep educating both men and women regarding these matters.
Gender roles are changing, but not enough. I am the first one to suggest that women take self-defense classes. I was lucky enough to be one of the only females in a family full of men. I can shoot straight, throw straight, and put a three hundred pound man on the ground with just a few moves. When people were concerned for my safety as a writer, I had to tell them this, and they were shocked. If you can learn something that will give you peace of mind, I encourage it and support you.
There’s a popular quote that says, “Here’s to strong women. May we know them, be them, and raise them.”
No one is questioning the strength of men, but the mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual strength of women is challenged daily. I’m used to being underestimated. By men, and by other women. But I’m not bothered about it for myself. I am bothered by it for other women. And to be fair, I am also bothered by good men being accused of things they haven’t done. Yes, we should believe men & women when they are brave enough to report something awful, but people are still innocent until proven guilty in the United States. Except Harvey Weinstein. He makes the Devil seem like a kindhearted concept.
Do you have anything to add to what I’ve said? If so, please leave your comments below.
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