A few weeks ago, a friend of mine posted on Facebook that he had gotten cussed out for smiling and waving at a little girl in a grocery store. I commented on his status that I was sorry that men sometimes were looked at as dangerous without reason. “I’m sorry,” I said, “that this is the world we live in.”
Something happened this weekend that has me digging deeper into that thought. There was an incident and one of the possible explanations for the incident was that a man was sexually violating a young woman (under age slightly). Within 10 minutes, I was ready to tie him to the bed and burn his house down. There were four other women involved in the conversation, and we all agreed. The only logical explanation was that he was a perpetrator.
It occurred to me this morning three of the five women discussing the incident had been sexually violated by someone they trusted and the other two were closely tied to women who had been. And I wonder whether the angry mother in the grocery store had been as well.
For someone with PTSD, the response to danger is immediate and intense. Sometimes flashbacks occur. There’s no convincing us that the danger we perceive isn’t real. And that’s what happened to me when I thought a young woman wasn’t safe. Fight and flight all at once.
And, so, I sort of retract my apology to the man who was cussed out in a grocery store because I think men are the only ones who can fix this problem. Men must no longer tolerate that sexual violence against women is okay. They’ve got to call one another on it when it happens. When we, as women, call it out, we’re being sensitive and whiney. Men, you have to step up to the plate.
When a friend posts a picture of his gun and ammo on Facebook with a caption of, “Let’s go hunting women.” It’s not funny. Tell them it’s not.
When a beer company puts a slogan on its beer that says, “Consuming this product may remove “no” from your vocabulary,” men have to object. Loudly.
When you’re in a bar and your friends are commenting about a woman’s suggestive dress, you have to remind them that even if she were naked, that is not consent to be jeered at, followed or touched.
That commenting on a woman’s body at all and using derogatory terms that refer to her sexuality is contributing to the culture that implies women’s bodies are public domain.
When that stops, we can start to talk about unfairness toward men.