Yes, All Women.

It’s easily the most powerful Twitter hashtag I’ve seen in a while, powerful enough to have earned mention in Time magazine and CNN.

It was in response to what happened in Santa Barbara. I won’t recount it; it’s been in the news enough, and the responses have ranged from inspiring to absolutely vile.

The purpose of the hashtag is to highlight the misogyny women face every day, however subtle, however small, and yes, men are the perpetrators. Please don’t cut in with “Not all men are like that!” – the men that aren’t like that are in the incredibly scant minority, and most of them get to the “not like that” point only when a close female in their lives, whether mother, daughter, sister, girlfriend, wife, aunt, cousin, has gone through something that forced their eyes open. Not all men are like that, but all women have been treated like that. And the American society is why.

The American society views women as objects first. This isn’t just me saying it. Look at a billboard ad: featuring a woman, heavily photoshopped. Look at a beauty magazine: heavily photoshopped woman, cover advertising “sex tips to keep your man” – as though a woman’s priority is to be a sex object in her relationship as opposed to, you know, a person with actual feelings and opinions. All advertising to women is targeted with a message, sometimes subtle and sometimes less, that if she doesn’t buy X product, she can’t be appealing to men. Because if a woman dresses up, the automatic assumption is that she is dressing to impress someone, not for her own confidence boost. Magazines always play up beauty, looks, and sex as the way to catch and keep a man.

Because her feelings and opinions are secondary, if relevant at all.

The American society has been silencing women and keeping them in second place for as long as time can recall. “You’re emotional”. “You’re on the rag”. “You have issues”. “Calm down and stop being so PMS-y”. “You’re exaggerating”. “You’re overreacting”. All of these responses have been issued to a woman with an opinion, especially if that opinion is 1. correct and 2. angry. What do they all have in common? They all devalue what the woman is saying. All of it is dismissing what the woman says, because they’d rather dismiss it as “emotional”. But what if there’s an assertive man saying the same things? He’s “assertive” or “a boss”. Don’t believe me? Sit in a boardroom meeting. This happens all. the. time. Look at the NY Times editor who got fired because…she was “pushy”. Code for “she was a woman with an opinion”.

The American society is taught to hate women. Look at the insults that men receive. “Pussy”. “Effeminate”. He’s teased with having his “man card” taken away. Because the most insulting thing a man can hear is…being feminized. Because being a woman is something awful if you’re trying to “be a man”. He’s taught from day one that he can’t express his feelings, can’t cry, can’t show anything because “only girls cry”. As though emotions are something unique to one gender and not the other. As though a man is some sort of a being above emotional response. Because if he shows any emotion, he’s automatically labeled “a girl”. Don’t believe me? Visit a middle-school playground and listen.

The American society glamorizes misogyny in entertainment. Listen to Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines. Look at a rap music video. Listen to rap lyrics and compare them to rap from the early 90s. What, exactly, does this say about how women are viewed then? Look at all the reality-TV shows of The Real Housewives, The Bachelor, look at Kim Kardashian and how she became famous – for a sex tape – and how that got her more money than being a regular girl in the workforce. Look at Teen Mom. What message does this send to impressionable girls and to the boys who watch those things and listen to them?

And women are always the ones who get the short end of that particular patriarchial stick.

If you have a daughter, you automatically fear for her because of the men who will be in her life. You’re terrified that a man will go too far and do something to her. But women all over have to live in the same fear.

If you walk in a parking lot, pay attention to the woman walking from or to her car. She’s holding her keys as a weapon, walking briskly and alertly. She’s afraid of being attacked, and if you’re male, she will automatically think it’s you. Not because you’re a bad person, but because this happens to women every. single. day.

If a woman has to report a sexual assault, she is re-victimized all over by the criminal justice system, which I don’t even address as such anymore, because the first thing the cops will ask is “What were you wearing?” followed by “Were you drunk?” as though either one could possibly justify what a man wanted to do. Because it’s easier to blame women for something completely out of their control than to blame their attacker for his complete lack of self-control.

Every day, there’s a thousand “how not to get raped” leaflets on college campuses. Every day, sexual assault victims leave college because their rapists aren’t prosecuted by either college disciplinary systems or the criminal justice system. But no one ever teaches men that it’s not okay to force women into anything they don’t want. Because it’s easier to put it on the victim than to take responsibility for one’s own actions.

And this is the reality. This is real. This is life every single day for women in America.

Myself included.

Every time I am going home late after a gig, I debate between taking a taxi and getting on the subway. I live in a quiet neighborhood, but more than once, en route there on the train, I got leered at, and witnessed some drunk guy jerking off while a couple of attractive girls were across from him. And I always tip the cabbie extra. Because I know that if I tip him a little extra, he’ll promptly forget where I live, and that’s one less male I need to worry about being a potential assailant.

I don’t go out to bars late. I love going out, I love getting a drink, I hate the stares I get and the men staring measuring what I’m drinking, gauging how quickly I can get drunk. They do it to other women too, completely in the open. That’s when I keep an eye on the women and try and engage them in conversation, because this way they don’t feel alone. Other women watch out for me the same way. I don’t know them.

I have earned my accolades in jazz because of the quality of my photos, but that was a long time in the making. Why? Because I’m young, female, and look cute in a black dress. People assume I’m a groupie to this day. Other photographers would not take me seriously and reply with “You can’t afford it” when I’d ask them about their gear. And some go as far as to assume I’m having sex with the musicians I’m shooting, as though there’s no way that the musicians would be friendly with me because they’re genuinely my friends. Or, even more astounding, because I am a damned good photographer. Nope, it’s a lot easier to paint me as a groupie than to acknowledge that I am working within this industry too. It’s an uphill battle that I still climb on a daily basis.

I have been told that I have issues when I’d state an opinion contrary to other people. It’s a way of life for me because I refuse to censor myself for other people’s comfort.

When I worked at my first CPA firm, people would always assume that being a receptionist was all I did. It wouldn’t cross their minds that I did half the bookkeeping and most of the beginning tax-prep at my firm. In my current firm, the respect that I get for being a quick learner and a kick-ass bookkeeper took me by surprise. Why? Because when I tell people I’m an accountant, their eyebrows always jump a little, because gee, can a girl really be an accountant?

I hear jokes behind my back about how I’m “always on the rag”, because I’m often angry and opinionated. Because I can’t possibly have an opinion. Because it’s more comfortable to keep me quiet than to listen to what I have to say.

In my house, my father always liked to say, “Long hair equals short brains”, and always when my mother or I had something to say that he didn’t like.

So yes, all women are subject to misogyny, however subtle in some cases, and however blatant and infuriating in others. Not all men treat women this way, but all women have been treated this way in one instance or another. And a woman is most likely to die at the hands of her husband, boyfriend, or ex, than she is likely to die of cancer. The American romance with guns doesn’t help matters, because right now, with open-carry laws in Georgia, the gun is right now the first if not the only way for some people to solve problems.

And you wonder why people want universal background checks? So Santa Barbara doesn’t happen again. Louisiana had to actually pass a law that bars domestic violence offenders from owning firearms. They actually had to pass the law, because it just hadn’t occurred to them that someone who was behind bars for domestic violence may likely use a gun to go back and kill his wife/girlfriend/babymomma. What takes most of us plain common sense to understand takes a law in the South. Think about that for a second, and absorb just how disturbing that is.

And you wonder why women everywhere leave the house with a habitual little knot of fear in their stomach, and a furtive glance over their shoulders. They do. And the reason that they do is the American society teaching men that women are something to hate, fuck, possess, and silence.

And if this, or the contents of the hashtag make you uncomfortable – GOOD.  It should. It should make everyone a little uncomfortable. Because then you should ask yourself why you’re uncomfortable with it. Maybe you’ll learn something.

K.G.

 

 

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5 thoughts on “Yes, All Women.

  1. And now we’re hearing that last Saturday night three 19 old women went to someone’s house, declined to have sex with the guy there and his friends, and for their trouble they were not only thrown out, but shot at. Because it was their fault they didn’t put out, naturally.

    I’ve actually found myself, even in broad daylight, walking with my car keys stuck through my fingers. Why? Because even though I don’t look that great in a black dress, I started wondering, “What if some guy gets in my face and starts giving me shit? What should I do?” Am I being paranoid that I’ve started looking at tasers I can carry in my purse? No, it’s because I’ve started thinking about the fact that now that I’m presenting more as a woman these days, the odd of some guy deciding I’m fair game for his bullshit have gone up dramatically. And I’m not about to become a statistic.

    1. What’s exponentially worse is that “Men’s rights activists” – read: professional douchebags – are coming out of the woodwork and saying that if women don’t want to get killed, they should “give men more sexual options”. Excuse me?! How is it my, or any other woman’s, fault if the man is completely incapable of keeping it in his pants? How is it any woman’s obligation? Since when are men entitled to a woman, or anything at all? I mean, really, this shit was fine and dandy in the middle ages, but this is not the damned middle ages. Human beings have brains that should be used for things other than keeping their ears apart, and overriding impulses is the brain’s #1 purpose. Believe me, if it weren’t, then I severely doubt the global population would be where it is right now.

      I really hate that you have to do this, Cassidy. I do. But unfortunately, this is what it means to be a woman. Not only will you be blamed for things outside of your control, but on top of that, you have to take the preventive measures against something that you can’t even come close to controlling. This is what it means to be a woman: to live in perpetual fear that somewhere, somehow, there’s a man who just can’t and won’t understand the word no because he feels entitled to a vagina simply because he’s hard.

      It’s truly one of the times that I can’t stand the world and living in it. The sad truth is that men really will never understand the world that they’ve created for women until they themselves have to be subjected to it. And most of them never will.

      1. I read that same article and was amazed by the level of self-entitlement they promoted that if you don’t fix things so we can get laid, bitches gonna die. I said in a post on FB that this sort of ideology is giving rise to terrorist actions against women–and was told by a woman, no, it’s not terrorism, it’s just guys blowing off steam. Excuse me? Trying to get into a sorority so you can “kill bitches who won’t fuck me” is not blowing off steam–it’s sending a message that any guy who feels entitled to a woman’s body can take this action! And that’s terrorism.

        MRA do scare the hell out of me, because that feminist are destroying their “rights” to “be a man”, that getting laid whenever you want is “their right”, and hey, if your girlfriend/wife/whoever you happen to be with won’t quit being difficult and put out when you tell her to, what’s a little rape gonna hurt? She had it coming anyway, right? This has been coming a long time, and until other *guys* start doing something about it (the *not all men* guys who love to hashtag and little else), it won’t change. Not until we change it–

        Which means being pushy, selfish bitches, I guess. But it’s gonna have to be done.

      2. The thing that scares me the most is that other women are making excuses for this behavior. It’s so deeply entrenched on a cultural basis that it’s starting to resemble a worldwide case of Stockholm Syndrome.

        To the men who love using the #notallmen hashtag – why not stop hashtagging and actually start doing something about sending a real message? Tell the men around you who think that getting laid whenever is their right that the women whom they want to fuck are – *GASP* PEOPLE. It’s amazing how far a little education goes. But of course, speaking out would mean your own “man card” would be in jeopardy, won’t it? /spit.

        Yeah, I’m a little pissed off, can’t you tell?

        I will admit that with my male friends, I lucked out. Yes, one did proposition me, and I did turn him down. Did he whine about being “friendzoned”? No! He got over the bruising to his ego and treated me like a real person. To this day I call him my big brother and treat him like a brother. Does he still find me sexy and attractive? Hell yes! And he’s not afraid to admit it either. The difference? He listened when I said no and respected me.

        It is wholly and completely possible to think with the big head instead of the little one once you acknowledge that the woman you’re trying to lay is an actual person and may not look at you the same way as you look at her. Anyone saying different is looking for an excuse to shirk his responsibility for his own actions and hormones.

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