When we co-operate, we’re awesome, but there are things we do to ourselves, each other and to the guys that I’d really like to talk about. I’d also like to talk about them calmly, with the understanding that airing this stuff is not an act of breaking rank. All of these are some women, sometimes, so add that caveat a each round.
We shame each other over body shape and size, and aspects of appearance. Any statement that has the term ‘real women’ in it is poisonous because it implies there are some people who seem female but don’t really qualify. When that’s about body shape, reproduction or some other thing where you might or might not, it really sucks.
The people who taught me that being attractive to men, getting male attention, was more important than anything else I was, were women. The people who told me guys don’t find smart girls attractive and that I ought to wear makeup, were other girls. I was about ten when that started. If we only write each other romance stories and define happily ever after purely in terms of a man… we’re putting ourselves in a really problematic position, and we need to stop doing that stuff.
We need to stop apologising for and making excuses for the bastards. We defend the guys who hit us ‘it was only… he didn’t really mean…’ we defend the rapists if we agree that yes, it was a short skirt. We support the idea that men can’t help abusing us every time we teach our daughters how to avoid being raped rather than teaching our sons some self respect and self control. Men are able to choose and we need to be totally intolerant of the ones who think they can’t help it.
We have to stop saying ‘all men are…’ where we’re being negative. If our only story is that all men are potential abusers, we leave no space for a guy to choose differently (they can choose). If we refuse to accept that a guy might totally agree with us that women should be respected, we alienate our allies. If what you want to do is beat up on all men, that’s not feminism, that’s hate, and we don’t want hate, we’re trying to unpick hate against women and we don’t sort that by making guys into hate-objects. Some men are total bastards. Traditional rape is thing men do to women, and in that context, all perpetrators are men. However, not all men are perpetrators and we need to respect the difference if we want things to change. If we say all men are rapists, we’re actually letting the rapists off the hook – we’re telling them they are perfectly normal and there’s nothing they can do about it.
If we respond to sexism and patriarchy by being just as rude and unpleasant, we won’t get culture of respect and decency. Thank you.