My new blog – http://stephanielanesays.wordpress.com/
This blog has taken many forms over the years. When I first started it in 2008, it was a sex advice blog. Like I knew what the fuck I was talking about. In the following year, it served as a place for me to post academic papers and responses I was writing for various women & gender studies-type courses I’d been taking, then subsequently a blog for sharing music by independent female artists I like (which got the original URL banned), then, upon respawn, it became what it is now — a collection of my political thoughts, most often feminist, and always engaging in whatever was happening around me.
This blog also changed when I started my career in professional writing. It served as a profile of my work, and helped me get a couple of awesome gigs. Through working in professional writing, I gleaned an education about how to successfully run a blog, and for a while, I utilized SEO and other ways of promoting this blog to promote myself. When I stopped doing paid blog gigs and ghostwriting, this blog seems to have lost its way a little bit.
I was 18 then. I’m 22 now. So much has happened in that time that has caused me to grow up, a lot of which has been written about here. At its final stage, this blog became a healing tool for me. I’d grown up to experience many of the issues that I so vehemently had already formed opinions about — abortion, rape, misogynistic jerks, and so on and so forth. The best part of all of this is the fact that I’ve been able to reach so many people, strangers or otherwise, who were helped by what I’d recorded here. Problem is not so much that I don’t know what the fuck I’m trying to do here (I don’t), but I’ve been trying to use this blog for things it isn’t actually good for — part-diary, part-self promotion, part-release from being a cog in a capitalist machine — you get the picture. I don’t feel like I’ve ever been able to reconcile what I wanted this blog to be with what it actually is.
My friend Amelia has an awesome blog that I love to read. She’s also a feminist, but unlike this blog here, hers is not restricted to just feminism — it’s about her life in general. And it just so happens that, like me, she tends to take a stance a lot too, and she doesn’t keep her mouth shut about it. I also have somewhat of an artistic envy of her, because she treats her blogging (and all her writing in general) like literature. It’s an indescribable quality, and probably is rooted in her over-all awesomeness and ingenuity that I will never match, but I can’t help but want, right?
Anyway, point being, since this is a blog post and they’re always supposed to have points, I’ve decided to stop updating Fires Underground. It’s something I’ve considered for a long time, and my last post being what it is, I feel I’ve said all I have to say here. That’s not to say that I don’t have anything left to say about feminism, or poetry, or even any of the specific issues I’ve written about here. But something about this blog, after four years, seems very contained, and I’d like to be able to broaden my horizons to write about other things. When and if I start a new blog, I will definitely post about it here. But for now I’m going to continue to attempt to observe, to focus on my poetry, as well as my personal health, and see if something new can emerge from that.
In the past year, I’ve learned that speaking out is no form of inaction, as what I’ve written about my experience here or shared publicly or organized around has helped many people (while simultaneously offending perhaps just as many). But I do feel that blogging can be a form of slacktivism, can cause us to neglect ourselves, to merely “speak into the void” about issues we should be taking to the classrooms, the streets, the round tables and our work places. It’s easier to take a stance while sitting in front of your computer and to shred the faceless opposition apart. More horrifyingly, facebook, twitter, and tumblr have made it so that you barely even have to share your own opinions rather than just co-opt those of others.
As a writer, I do feel that writing, art, and self-expression in general can be both very tangible and very effective tools of implementing political change. However, now it seems silly to expect this blog to grow into anything other than what it already is — a collection of second- and first-hand knowledge, opinions and experiences. A facsimile of myself. I’m a firm believer of “the personal is political” when it’s done well, but somehow it seems like what I want to do conflicts with how this specific blog presents itself. I’m not in school anymore, so I’m not actively writing 500 reading responses. I’m still organizing, but for the time being it’s related entirely to my poetry career. I’m no longer sucking metaphorical dicks in the professional writing field, so I no longer turn to this blog for release after spending days hacking away at some mind-numbing assignment. I work in a used bookstore now. And I teach. Those things are great! But I have a whole nother life outside of the incredibly politicized one I’ve recorded here. The shoe doesn’t quite fit anymore.
So, I hope you enjoy the work that’s already up here, if it’s new to you. I’m quite proud of a lot of the things I’ve written here, most of which were a labor of love. If you know me, I hope you’ll keep in touch, and hope that when I start this new blog, it will interest you. Until then, you can keep up with my portfolio blog and my art collective’s blog. See you around!
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I’ve been wanting to write this blog post for a while. Even as I sit here now beginning to type, I can feel my stomach tying up in knots. I’ve written at length about my sexual assault on this blog, but most of it has been in relation to some political rant or another. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a firm believer in “the personal is political,” but this is a different type of post here.
I’ve decided to write this post today because the 1-year anniversary of my sexual assault is approaching. And so much has happened and changed in the past year. The truth is, though, it’s all been for the better. If you had told that to myself in October, 2010, I wouldn’t have believed you. I was at the lowest low in my life. The fact of the matter is, when a sexual assault happens to you, it’s like a domino effect of your entire world being shattered. It’s not just the assault–it’s the way others treat you because of it (no wonder so many choose to stay silent). My assailant was my best friend and a collaborator. I lost all of our mutual friends. I broke up with my boyfriend despite him being my biggest support system, because I couldn’t fathom the idea of being romantic with anyone ever again. I barely had the strength to go to school and complete my homework, despite my being just a few credits away from graduation. Literally, my entire world had been shattered.
And the assault couldn’t have come at a stranger time in my life, either. I had just gotten back from New York City a few hours before, where I’d seen my all-time favorite band, Pavement, perform the last leg of their reunion tour from the front row in Central Park (which, at that time, was probably #1 on my list of coolest experiences). I was set to perform in The Encyclopedia Show, one of the world’s (let’s be honest, probably the only) fastest-spreading literary variety shows, in the coming days, and I’d just finished writing the perfect poem on my topic: somewhat ironically given the events to come, “Bare Naked.” The same night I got back, I jet-laggedly rushed to meet up with my musician to show him the piece and finish writing the song–after all, the performance was just in a few days. When he offered me an adderall, I accepted, even though I’d never tried it before and had no idea what to anticipate, because I wanted to stay up all night to perfect the piece. How could I have known his intention would be to wait until I passed out, drugged out of my mind, and take advantage of me?
It was a Friday night. The show was on Tuesday. I won’t focus on the event of the assault here, because that’s not what’s important. What is important to me, today, is that I decided to do go through with the performance. Despite the fact that I had spent all weekend in a hospital room getting a rape kit done and talking to various authorities about the event, despite the fact that for at least an entire month after the event I was so depressed I literally did not get out of bed, I had to make a decision about what was important to me. And that decision was whether or not I would let my assailant take away an important opportunity in my life, or be strong, and find a way to perform my piece without the way I had practiced and prepared it with the man who had taken advantage of me. I asked my sister, a musician, to help me, and we came up with something the night before the show.
It’s strange for me to watch this video. The trembling in my hands and legs, the sadness in my eyes, seems all so obvious to me, although there were only a few people in the room who knew what had happened. I remember the moments while reciting that poem when my mind would wander back to what had happened to me just a few nights before–and I remember pushing those thoughts away to stay focused on my performance. There were several moments when I almost started crying, and didn’t. And in the end, when I crack a smile and look back at my sister, who smiles back at me–I can see the shared moment of trust and triumph. Needless to say, I feel very blessed to have this video as a relic of this small victory.
What’s more, this performance was a very important moment in my life for another reason–not that I knew it at the time. Like I previously mentioned, I lost all of my close friends in the wake of my assault. But today, I have something even more valuable–my sister, the people in the room, the poets who performed and came out to support me, would come to be my lifeline in the coming months, although they would be almost completely oblivious to it. Who would have thought that something like a sexual assault and the loss of all my close friendships would come to be the event that propelled me forward in my passion? Who would have thought that the utter despair and loneliness I experienced would send me somewhere completely unexpected, into a poetic community, that would welcome me with open arms and a type of love and understanding that I would never have to question or doubt?
There was another moment that came a little later that was very important in my recovery as well. Like I said, I spent literally months so depressed I couldn’t get out of bed. Then, one day, instead of choosing to do nothing about my emotions, I decided to write a poem. I’ve often said that I write a poem when I feel so much of a certain way that I can’t do anything else–this was precisely the moment when that first happened. I wrote a poem that contained all of my sadness and struggle from the past year. I made all of my emotions small enough to be contained in letters on a page. And then, a few months later, I performed again, in the Louder Than A Bomb College Indy Slam.
To be honest, I didn’t score that well in the slam (well, in my opinion–my goal was to win the whole thing of course). I was more interested in getting involved in LTAB for the opportunities to work with high school poets than to compete. I’ll be the first to admit that my competitive side isn’t pretty, and I’m a pretty sore loser. I cried a lot after the competition. But getting on stage and sharing a poem I’d worked so hard on, both in terms of literariness and performance, was incredibly important to me. As Robbie Q. Telfer, the co-founder of the aforementioned Encyclopedia Show and director of LTAB, says frequently: “The point is not the points, the point in the poetry.” And although I didn’t know it at the time, and certainly wouldn’t try to perform that poem again, opening up about my experience to a room full of strangers, unafraid of their judgment, was a profoundly empowering experience, and one that’s propelled me forward in the aftermath.
I’ll get to the point, here. A year ago, I was a senior in college, the president of a student poetry organization, oblivious to the fact that school was going to be over soon and I’d have to figure out how to make this whole “being a career poet” thing work. My priorities lied in getting drunk with my friends and having a boyfriend at all times. Of course poetry was important to me–it always has been–but it wasn’t my life. And for most people, it probably shouldn’t be their life. After all, everything I’m trying to say is that it took a life-changing, post traumatic stress-inducing event for me to get to that point.
But that’s not it, exactly. Yes, I threw myself into my poetry as a way to get my mind off of what had happened. But I did something else, too–I threw myself into the community here in Chicago as well. I surrounded myself with people who were poets, a couple of whom were my age and had merely been friends through association, who now are my very best friends in the entire world and have my back in a way no friend has ever had before. What’s more is that the poetry community in Chicago is a very special place where things like sexism, ableism, homophobia, and the rest won’t fly or get politely golf-clapped off stage when performed (unlike in New York where I watched a guy perform a poem about how “all women are whores” and “gay marriage isn’t in the Bible” get wild applause at the Nuyorican Cafe). I’ve become more than just a poet, but an organizer–someone who has given back to the community a hundred fold what it’s given to me–because I wanted to surround myself with intelligent people who had the strength to share their pain the way I did, but also the strength to just keep trying to be better. I think about the people who have become important in my life in the past year and scoff at what was important to me a year ago–people who held me back and distracted me from my dreams.
It’s weird how, a year later, I can look back at something like my own sexual assault and subsequent depression and see it as such a valuable and life-changing experience. I can’t say I wouldn’t have found my way to the 24/7 poetry lifestyle if it weren’t for my assault, but I do know that my life would be profoundly different. I wouldn’t have the good, supportive friends I do if I didn’t have a good reason to forget about the old ones. I wouldn’t have had the balls to compete in a slam if I didn’t write a poem that I thought was good enough for it. My life and work as an artist has taken a dramatically different turn–from organizing SlutWalk Chicago to having the opportunity to work with some of my most idolized poets–if I hadn’t had the hard life experience to propel me in that direction. And I certainly wouldn’t have had the opportunity to speak out about my own experience and help others who are going through similar situations if I hadn’t lived it.
So, here’s a final video: me, today, performing a new poem that addresses my beliefs as a feminist in a different way than the videos above. I wouldn’t have had the strength to do this, either, if I hadn’t let go of the pain that haunted me for so long.
Posted in Feminism & Art, Poetry | Tagged feminism, feminist, feminist poetry, gender, performance poetry, Poetry, rape, sexual assault, sexuality, slam poetry, slutwalk, survivor, women, women's health, women's rights | 5 Comments »
For a long time, dating was kind of the center of my life. I always had someone I was interested in, usually someone I was emotionally invested in to some degree, but I haven’t even gotten laid in close to six months. This is an all-time record for me. Honestly? I had never counted more than a couple weeks between hump days since losing my virginity. Between December 2009 and February 2011, I started and ended four separate relationship with people I cared deeply for. And actually, as I begin to type this, the reasons for my not getting any should become more and more glaringly obvious–dating was the center of my life. And I needed to fix that, fast.
I’d like to think that this is a realization most people will come to at some point or another. Forgive me as I go on something that will undoubtedly sound completely jaded, like it’s being written by someone who has been single for way too long (which it probably is): I see a lot of people, regardless of age, who have their lives built around and subsequently destroyed by a constant goal of receiving romantic attention. When things are good, they’re great, but when the going gets tough, well, the world is over. And I get it. I’ve been that person before and I can’t say I won’t be that person again. But, I can’t help but feel that it gets a little frustrating to see people I care about get hurt over and over again for the same reasons (often by the same people). And, again: I get it. I’ve been that person before. But honestly, I hope a lot of people get their wake up calls before I did, because it took a lot of time wasted for me to reach the six-month mark–and to be quite honest, I have never felt more fulfilled, confident, and less alone ever before in my life. How the fuck does that work?
Step 1: I stopped putting up with bullshit. Easier said than done, right? And, well, this isn’t a fool-proof rule, either. Sometimes it’s hard to tell when to draw the line, whether it’s a long-term partner or a friend bearing benefits. No one is perfect. However, I did come across this quote from The Crunk Feminist Collective recently which I will probably reference from here on out in life as my words to live by when it comes to dealing with lover’s haterade:
”Patriarchy conditions men to use emotional extortion and passive aggressive behaviors –saying hurtful things and then claiming them as innocuous opinions … then accusing the woman of picking fights or being emotional; demanding your silence in the face of offensive behaviors in exchange for love and affection–as a way to gain control over women who intimidate them.”
Okay now, this quote in context relates to a much more complex issue of WOC with educations dealing with egos, but I think that a lot of people–regardless of gender, race, or education–can relate to the above sentiments. You know when someone gets mad at you, even though they’re only mad as a reaction to your emotions and their anger serves as a means to manipulate you in place of a legitimate apology? Yeah, that’s what I’m getting at. That’s some Bullshit with a capital B.
Step 2: I claimed my body as my own. This is probably usually where the Pop Psychology blogger will start talking about the glories of masturbation, physical exercise, and getting in touch with some sort of spiritual obligation that involves meditation and consuming copious amounts of tea. I’m not knocking any of those practices, but my approach was a little more straight forward–I got over the pressure to have sex, and I stopped measuring my worth by how recently a dick had been inside me.
I think this is something that a lot of people–especially those around my age–struggle with. Sex is everywhere, and when we’re not seeing it on TV or in magazines, we’re listening to our friends disclose their recent erotic adventures. Even in the feminist community, there is so much going around about being sex positive and not letting anyone judge you for making your own choices that it’s easy to forget that you can choose to be choosey. It’s not about who you should and shouldn’t sleep with or how often–it’s about what feels right, acceptable, and deserved.
Step 3: I got over my fear of rejection… that is, rejecting other people. This goes into Step 2 to some degree. Sometimes it’s easier to be compliant and say “yes.” Avoiding confrontation is often the easier option, especially if it’s someone with whom you already have a sexual history. And I’m not going to lie, denying romantic attention to those who wanted it in the past couple months has often led to some really uncomfortable situations. But here’s something that sounds simple yet is easy to forget: You are never obligated to sleep with anyone, or go on a date, or indulge someone’s flirtations. You have the right to call them out on causing your own discomfort. And even if it’s not a matter of feeling uncomfortable or objectified, if it’s just a matter of it not being the right time/place/person, you are entitled to your feelings moreso than the other person is entitled to your compliance.
Step 4: I learned how to be patient. This is probably the most important thing. It’s not that I want to be single, or think love is a waste of time, or don’t enjoy dating. Based on my previously stated history, it should be pretty obvious that I find all of these things to be important in my life. However, especially after going through so many serially-monogamous relationships, I’ve come to accept that holding out for someone who fits my standards is going to have a way bigger pay off.
I have found myself seriously crushing on a couple people during my sex drought. But even when I knew the attraction was mutual, I’ve come to recognize that you can’t really fall in love with someone if you don’t know them all that well. And often times, taking the time to get to know some of these objects of affection has proved that they weren’t right for me or had different expectations. If someone isn’t willing to meet you in the middle and make some effort before jumping the gun into sexual or romantic territory, chances are it isn’t going to be worth it.
It’s not that I’m not totally awesome and have a body I love and kick ass at everything I attempt and couldn’t get it in every night of the week from someone totally delicious and equally as badass if I wanted. I just got over that and decided that I had done enough of rushing into things before feeling out the situation enough and getting totally burned (or doing the burning) because of it.
Instead, I remembered how the best relationships I ever had happened when I least expected it or, more accurately, felt that I needed it. RuPaul’s twist on the old cliche rings very true: “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?” What’s more, the most important thing to remember is that this expression goes both ways–and unfortunately, not too many people are often in a place in their life where they are willing to love as freely as they can.
In the end, remember when enough is enough, when it’s time to say no, and that no matter how much you want it, you have to prioritize your own needs, boundaries, and standards if you want to find happiness. That way, it won’t matter if you’re alone or not–you’ll have your own happiness to keep you satisfied.
I’ve never felt like I was good at turning guys down. In the past I’ve definitely been the person to feel obligated to flirt back, give out my number, go on dates or even sleep with someone out of a feeling of empathy and obligation. It’s been years since I felt this way, however, I still feel equally as awkward when dealing with a guy who is interested in me but cannot take the hint.
Then, I had the epiphany–Why do I feel awkward? Shouldn’t he feel extremelyawkward? Awkward and embarrassed enough to stop?
Why isn’t that the case? Last night I was dealing with two guys who were perfectly sweet when sober but became relentless once the party took a turn for the drunk. The prying questions began, particularly of the realm of “Do you think I’m cute?” or “Am I too old for you?” They continually offered me beer and cigarettes, which, you know, doesn’t go unappreciated, but is also a pretty passive aggressive way of hitting on women (again, trying to build up that sense of obligation, especially as the drinks keep pouring on). Eventually it got to the point where the guy insisted I pose in pictures for him, which I really didn’t want to do. It wasn’t like he wanted to take one picture of me having fun at the party, it was like he wanted to take as many as possible as a way of, I don’t know, not so subtly letting me know what he’d be looking at during the pants party later on, not to mention he’d be sure to make plenty of comments on my appearance after each one. He even started taking pictures of me after I said “no” and started ignoring him. (I’m sorry, but I don’t care how drunk you are — you know you’re being creepy when you explicitly continue to do something after being told to stop, and if you don’t, hey, reality’s ready and waiting for your arrival.)
I feel bad bashing these guys since he did ply me and all my friends with a cab ride to the bar and a round of cocktails, and obviously he is friends with one of my good friends. However, I can’t help but feel enough is enough. My night ended early because I didn’t want to keep accepting free rides and free drinks from this guy who was clearly trying to get in my pants. I was not attracted to him at all — and even if I was, it was the first time I met him, and that’s just coming on way too strong for me. Because I’ve been treated shitty both systematically and by individuals, I don’t trust men right off the bat — much less a man who’s trying to convince me to go to a strange bar far away from home so he and his friend can supply me with as much alcohol as I want.
And yet, I’m the one who feels shitty about it. I feel inadequate because apparently my polite “no thank yous” were not enough to make him stop. Even when I tried to stand up for myself, my concerns lied in not coming off like a bitch or being rude or making the party awkward for everyone else. But in retrospect, he came off like a total creep, was totally rude, and was making the party awkward for me and our mutual friends. So why am I burdened with this overwhelming feeling of insecurity?
I can’t necessarily say he doesn’t feel like shit this morning either, having literally driven me away earlier than I wanted to — but by flirting with someone, shouldn’t you goal be to make someone feel good about themselves, not guilty?
There seems to be this idea in our culture — that dating takes a huge amount of effort, and that you need an over-abundance of self-confidence to get to that person that seems ideal to you. But here’s the reality: dating is a two-way street. If someone isn’t attracted to you, that should mean that it’s time to move on. But the reality is, while women are taught that being aggressive is not ladylike and will keep them from finding a man, men are taught the exact opposite — that, as a male, it is their duty to be as aggressive as possible — physically, verbally, etc. And sometimes passive aggression can be just as violent.
When you become an adult, you start to see how these binaries aren’t true. Women realize that they’ll have more of a chance of getting with a guy they’re interested in if they make a little effort. Men realize that women aren’t property and can’t be simply physically claimed. Or at least, I hope they do.
To be honest, all my recent attempts at dating men have gone way south because of this issue of aggression/passive aggression. If someone ever figures out a way to coyly and maturely let someone know that you’re a survivor of rape and that their behavior is mimicking that of a rapist, let me know. Until then, I can only hope that more men start making an effort to differentiate themselves from rapists, because it’s the same logic of “if I try harder, she’ll be with me” that a lot of men use to perpetrate rape in the first place. And, when it comes to my experience trying to date, that attitude becomes a complete deal breaker. Yeah, some women are sexually into being submissive and can be turned on by being “forced” into certain things; but there are also a lot of women who are like me–survivors of assault. There’s also, you know, plenty of women who aren’t necessarily survivors of assault but don’t like being pushed around either.
In short: Dear passive/aggressive men of the world — start taking into account a woman’s comfort when you’re trying to date her. Remember that there are boundaries in place that you shouldn’t try to cross without permission. Instead of trying to guilt women into coming home with you or even going as far as to make a commitment to you, why don’t you go the route of respecting the person you’re attracted to? I promise you’ll have 100% more effective results, and no one will be left waking up with a bad taste in their mouth the next day.
Let the backlash begin.
More and more “articles” seem to be popping up opposing SlutWalk. You get the typical Fox News conservatives, right-wing bloggers, and proud anti-feminist women who miss the point completely. I can understand the argument that the term “slut” is problematic and people may not want to identify with it; however, about five minutes of research on any official SlutWalk website will explain why the term was chosen — it was taken right from the mouth of a victim-blaming police officer. There’s the misconception that SlutWalk is about dressing as scantily as possible; in reality, the wardrobe of protestors gets the least attention from those who are actually involved. Despite preconceptions, there’s absolutely no dress code for SlutWalk — the whole point is that the label “slut” is what others use to describe women, and that therefore being a slut cannot be defined by what type of clothes you wear or any other choices — only misogynistic point of views. So why not reclaim the word and say that we’re all sluts, regardless of attire, gender, nationality, age, or anything else? I tend to think it’s quite empowering, both for victims and allies working in solidarity. Sure, the message is radical and unpleasant to some — so is the harsh reality of the treatment of sexual assault victims.
So the articles are one thing. I tend to ignore them because, as of yet, any time I have actually looked into the opposition’s statement, it always goes a little something like “I agree that rape is always bad, but, [insert victim-blaming, sexist and/or judgemental rhetoric in here].” As a victim, this type of shit gets me mad real fast, not to mention sometimes boarders on triggering.
However, now the opposition’s rhetoric has begun to sink into my facebook newsfeed, meaning it’s less avoidable. I feel a certain responsibility to defend SlutWalk to friends or mutual friends since I’m helping to organize the marketing campaign for SlutWalk Chicago (June 4th, y’all!). And unfortunately, now I’ve come face to face with the fact that people are still ignorant as fuck.
I guess it still baffles me that people aren’t as educated about rape as I am. Then again, I’ve had the privilege of a college education at a notoriously liberal school, as well as the privilege of being a self-identified feminist since the age of 14. It doesn’t take being a victim to know that rape is all-too common. Every two minutes, someone in America is raped. One-in-four college-aged women will be sexually assaulted, making this issue especially relevant to my peers. Most rapists (15 out of 16, in fact) will never spend a day in jail. And also, police are often completely unsympathetic or unwilling to help victims of sexual assault. Case in point: I’ve been waiting for my rape kit results for seven months, and haven’t heard from my detective in five. While tons of friends, family, teachers, etc etc etc, have been supportive of me in the wake of my assault, no one in the position of authority has been cooperative in bringing my perpetrator to justice.
And I’m supposed to believe that this is my fault, somehow? That I’m not doing enough to prosecute him? That I didn’t do enough to stop my own rape in the first place?
One news article that’s started a recent facebook status debate that’s got me pulling my hair out states, “The attitude that rape victims bring it on themselves has largely (though not entirely) disappeared from mainstream society. When a Manitoba judge recently blamed the victim in a rape case for leading her attacker on, he was universally ridiculed. Everybody was amazed that any judge today would be so ignorant.” The sad truth is (other than the fact that this article is written by a clearly self-loathing woman) that this isn’t true. Rape occurs so often, if only it were possible for everyone to be universally ridiculed for their victim-blaming comments! And wouldn’t it be AWESOME if the amount of judges putting a rapist behind bars was proportionate to popular attitude against rape? Hell, lady, with such statements as “[N]o fewer than 62 per cent of female students say they’ve been sexually harassed at university – a figure that is credible only if you include every incident of being groped by some 20-year-old drunk,” you have to wonder where all these ridiculous victim-blaming attitudes have gone off to — oh wait, that’s right, they’re ingrained into how our fucking society views women, and you think you’re some great exception, right? In the same breath as you both undermine rape statistics and basically state that interpreting groping as sexual assault is overreacting. RIGHT! Victim-blaming attitudes have TOTALLY disappeared from mainstream society! (Hint: no they fucking haven’t, what a giant hypocrite.) As pro-wrestler Mick Foley would say, “The world gets an F in their treatment of women, but we’re getting a C-minus and we’re bragging about it.”
I wish people would just shut the fuck up about bashing SlutWalk already. It’s a protest to end RAPE, for god’s sake, don’t you want to fucking END RAPE? Okay, okay, so you think it’s morally irrephensible for women to be half naked in public… okay, fine, whatever, the cordgial invitation to the 21st century is still here, but seriously… what the fuck are you actually trying to say? Seems to me that most of the opposition to SlutWalk is either unwilling to do five seconds of research or completely, blatantly sexist. And if that’s the case, I guess I don’t want you on my team anyway.
It just seems silly to me… shouldn’t everyone be universally for the cause of ending rape? Isn’t it far more immoral to prefer that no one take any action against rape than to dress like a “slut?”
I guess this is why I’ve been avoiding the backlash for so long. It just doesn’t make any fucking sense, and if it doesn’t make any sense, it can’t be worth much of my time. All I’m saying is, before you write your poorly researched editorial or blogpost about why SlutWalk is counter-productive, do five minutes of research on the statistics of rape. I can guarantee that someone close to you has been assaulted. Why don’t you ask someone in your life what happened in the aftermath of their assault? How about reaching out to people with love, understanding, and compassion, instead of judgement, for once in your life?
How many times have you heard a guy say this: “Women like you better when you treat them like shit.” Or: “I never get the girls I like because I’m too nice.” Or: “I’m a functioning alcoholic, and a complete asshole. Let’s date?” Okay, maybe that last one isn’t so popular (outside of my world, at least) but really, now, I’m sure all of us have heard the first two from multiple sources, usually men fresh from a break-up or another form of rejection. Really, it’s surprising that, being as gung-ho about gender equality as I am, that I’ve known so many men so eager to explain this rational to me.
The fact that many men categorize themselves/their behaviors toward dating women, unconsciously or not, as being “bad boys” or “nice guys” speaks less to the idea that women actively seek out men of either types and more to how society views women. “Bad boys” treat women like shit because they’re either to subdued or too stupid to know any better, while “nice guys” treat women well and get dumped because women are sex-starved bitches who do better when they’re treated like objects or children. Never does it cross their minds that they may not be treating their partner with respect. To avoid making sweeping generalizations as much as possible (since, after all, it’s these types of generalizations about women that really piss me off), it seems like, all too often, these guys are one in the same. These men never recognize or admit to their own flaws when it comes to dating; when a woman leaves, it’s always because “all women are whores,” “all women are bitches,” etc etc etc, instead of “maybe she has her reasons.” It’s always the “nice guys” claiming that women get turned on by being treated disrespectfully. Turns out they’re not really “nice guys” at all.
Now, again, this is with avoiding generalizations. As WhatEmbersConsume, a self-proclaimed “former Nice Guy,” points out, there are key differences between “nice guys” and “nice people.” A “nice person” will genuinely care about you, but also respect your boundaries and limits, and take responsibility for their faults and actions. On the flip side, here’s a few tell-tale signs that you’re dealing with a “Nice Guy:”
- Often clingly. May ask you far too frequently where you are, who you are with, what you are doing, etc. out of a supposed regard for your safety. In reality, the Nice Guy™ wants to know where you are because he wants to keep tabs on you, like any other one of his possessions.
- Easily prone to jealousy. Doesn’t like you hanging around other people of your preferred gender and age group (or even your friends outside of your preferred gender). This is because he is afraid of loosing you.
- Will likely be upset when you try to put up healthy boundaries when it comes to personal time, space, etc.
- Will often want to get involved with your family/friends as soon as possible if you have a good relationship with them. This is because he thinks – subconsciously or not – that if he forges relationships with those close with you it will be harder for you to break things off. The same goes for the reverse of this: he will likely want you to meet his friends and family for the same reason.
- Will often talk about how important you are to him, how he couldn’t live without you, etc. especially as things get more serious. He either really believes this, in which case it is because he has become dependent on the ideal of you; or is deliberately using it to manipulate you emotionally.
- Will affirm you/praise you for your physical characteristics and accomplishments. This is because these are the only things he cares about: things that others will notice and things that he can take advantage of.
- Easily put off by arguments; not inclined to initiate serious conversations. This is because he views differences between you two as freedom from him he does not want you to have.
- Is not willing for you two to be anything less than he wants you to be. If you maintain your boundaries, he will hightail it out of your life or seek revenge.
- Will try to make you feel special.
- Will never admit to making mistakes unless you threaten him with something. He is always right, and even if your threats get him to concede that with words he will maintain that he was right in his own mind.
Looking over this list really startled me, because not only did it remind me of dating patterns I’ve witnessed, but also those my friends and I have experienced first hand–more than once. And, what’s even scarier, is this lists’ similarity to that of an abusive relationship. In fact, many abusive relationships–physically, emotionally, verbally, or otherwise–start off in the realm of the self-proclaimed Nice Guy and get that much more extreme as possessiveness worsens. The fact that so many men self-identify as “nice guys” is quite startling–even the OP recognized this trend in his dating choices (although he claims to be reformed now–we shall see).
So what’s the fucking deal? Why do so many men equate possessive behavior to genuinely caring? And why do so many guys think that they can’t get a date because they’re “too nice” when really they completely fail at seeing a woman as a human person with autonomous feelings and decision making capabilities?
It makes me really sad, to be honest. Some of these guys have serious issues. This type of misogyny can often be a product or a side effect of other problems such as alcoholism, poor self-esteem, post traumatic stress disorder, or other serious mental/emotional limitations. Really, who’s to blame? The guy who thinks he’s supposed to treat women like shit, or the culture that says if he doesn’t manipulate her into submission, he’s not masculine enough?
Either way, it’s not an issue to brush over, and what’s most important is who this outlook affects the most—women. Ladies, how many times have guys tried to guilt into dates, sex, or staying in a relationship, just because someone was “nice” to you? Probably a lot. Probably all the time. And chances are, when you reject these guys, it’s probably not pretty. He probably gets mad. He might use misogynistic language to describe you, like “bitch,” “cunt,” or “whore,” whether it’s to your face or behind your back. And a lot of times, he probably won’t back down after the first rejection.
What’s most important is to remember that you have control over your body and decisions first—no one else. I know a lot of times it doesn’t feel that way, but we must keep reminding ourselves. By owning ourselves first, before any ideas or cultural standards, we are taking a giant step against oppression every day. Don’t let anyone tell you whether or not they’re a “nice guy”—leave that to your own judgement calls.
Posted in Political Rants, Science & Sexuality, Sex & Dating Advice | Tagged abuse, advice, dating, dating advice, feminism, feminist, feminist rant, gender, gender theory, misogyny, rant, reproductive rights, sex advice, sex education, sexuality, women, women's rights | 10 Comments »