I’ve been spending the last year and half now reliving all of my trauma while I try to sort things out. There’s A LOT of rape, you guys. I lost count a long time ago, and in my triggered state, it made it difficult for me to leave the house. I mentioned this to some feminist friends of mine who told me to take self defense classes so I can feel empowered. I was also told that it was because I have too many male friends. The problem with this advice, is that I was already taught self defense by a Marine and I also already know how to knife fight and use a gun, I might add. I was taught these things by my actual father, no less (confirmation on family secrets part 1). The problem is that the men also knew how to do that and are bigger than me. I stabbed one of my rapists when I was younger, barely escaping in the process. If I didn’t know how to defend myself, I would have been killed already.
Here’s how many times I’ve been raped: if I use self defense every time, this is how I would look.
If I sound cavalier about this, you would too, if you spent the last year and half reliving what I’ve been reliving.
It’s cool, though, I’m still standing
I’m a tiny girl with the body of a dancer, you guys. Every opponent I’ve ever fought has been bigger and scarier than me. And at some point, I’d like for someone else to show up and help with my fights because truly, not one of us can do this in isolation or alone. I’m getting tired of fighting, I’d like to put down the self defense skills for a bit and maybe, I dunno, drink some tea and bake.
But here’s my other problem with this: I don’t know any men who are surviving attacks like I have any better either. None of us is capable of getting out of the cave alone and to apply American individualism to rape victims, male or female, just strikes me as incredibly and profoundly silly. Most of my male friends can fight, ok? But can they take on ten on one? Probably not and if they were jumped, I wouldn’t call them weak. I don’t know how to put this is in any plainer language for my more sheltered compatriots but those of us who have gone through the fire can’t heal from our burns alone. And I’m not going to sit here and let you divide me from the communities and people that have tended my wounds and pulled me out of the fight. This is a deliberate assault on the communities that were built to protect the kids that have always been left out, and I’m not falling for it.
I’ve been blessed that A LOT of my male friends have actually shown up for these fights. High school was pretty much rape free for me (which means that most of my rapes happened before the age of 14, deal with that while I try to cope over here), because I had a small army of male friends that kept me safe. Some bad things went down in college, but it could have been so much worse without the men who kept me safe there too. So I wanted to issue a huge thank you to those men.
Thanks male friends for protecting me all these years!
Oh no, I’m being a bad feminist again, aren’t I? Consorting with the men who stop my rapes, how could I? The problem is that A LOT of women have been complicit in this nonsense too, so I have a hard time blaming any one demographic group for my oppression. Monsters just like beating up on tiny, sweet people, you guys. After a while, you develop spikes and a loud mouth but I’m taking this opportunity to remind all of you that:
1) I’m 5’3″
2) I’m disabled, and it’s my muscles with the problems
3) I’m very feminine in appearance
4) All my plots involve baking
No amount of me trying to appear more masculine is going to change that but it seems that mainstream American feminism promotes this ideology that feminism is merely for the women who can and do gender bend. The only time I’ve ever gotten away with “gender bending” is in my verbal arguments with men in college (when I took them to church) and actually it isn’t a gender thing where I come from to be good at arguments. I’m fairly certain, it’s a upper class thing to suggest that only men should speak up in class because I didn’t encounter that belief system until college. The women back home were running class. I don’t know any quiet, meek women back home. It was super weird for me to have my femininity negated by my argumentation skills. But I’m going to cut my male friends from college a lot of slack because many of them still felt a responsibility for protecting us. Also, it’s not their fault their culture is weird. Just kidding, you guys, so is mine. All culture is.
Most of the men I knew in college felt protective towards the women in their midst, so I’m trying to push back against an ideology that suggests that men don’t have a role here. And I can’t emphasize this enough, most rapists are repeat offenders and most men are NOT rapists, so this is a collective problem we can all do something about.
Actually… we do need the men.
Being a feminist is about more than gender bending and we have to stop punishing others for their femininity. And eliminating gender isn’t going to happen until we acknowledge the oppression faced for being feminine. To claim that gender is a social construct we can eliminate just by changing words is to erase the challenges faced by women. It’s a classic erasure. You are skipping a whole lot of steps there. I’m going to need for the rapes to cut down a whole lot before I’m willing to entertain that discussion. I mean, it’s great that we’ve made more room for masculine expression in our women, but do we have to do it while we exclude other women? Other countries don’t do this, and our feminism needs to stop being exclusive.
Feminism: not a social club for cool, rich girls
The burden of being male is now being placed on women while we fail to fight gender based oppression. Now I’m supposed to do everything the men do and everything I was already doing, and we are burning out as a result. And I’m here to tell you that telling the men they don’t have a role is quite possibly the most dangerous and destructive thing we’ve ever done. They have a role and they need one.
Historical fact: nothing more dangerous that a group of angry, unemployed single men in “work mode.”
Of course, this goes both ways, our gender constructs are highly destructive for our boys too, but to pretend there is no gender or to pretend that men don’t have the power blinds us to what powerful men can and do often do. I’m a tiny girl. I can sound as powerful as I want in my writing but I can’t overcome centuries of oppression and abuse on my own. No amount of language change is going take away the rapes I’ve endured and I can guarantee that my gender had a hand in the number of times and brutality with which I was raped.
I desperately need the men in our midst to take ownership of their power and to use that power where they can, when they can to help us. I’m not saying men don’t suffer of course, or that this isn’t incredibly difficult to do, but I’m here to remind you that I’m still just a tiny, fragile girl and nothing is ever going to change that for me.
And I need other women with power to use that power judiciously. It’s your job to lift your sisters up and it is also your job to be inclusive. No woman with power got there in a vacuum and you stand on the shoulders of other women, maybe keep in mind that some of the shoulders took damage in the process, that they come in all shapes and sizes, and that sometimes they really love pink. Also, literally all of us need to remember that the moms keep our species going.
And when the chips are down, I promise you I won’t care about the genitalia of the people who come to help me and protect me, so don’t be surprised when I ask the men to help. They have much better odds of doing something about the locker rooms than we do and they are also more likely to win in a fight against another dude.
I refuse to go to war with our men, but what I will do is remind them of nonsense I’m going through while they get cookies I’ve baked. I find this makes them more inclined to help and that folks…
Is why ALL my best plots involve baking.