Today Beth Morey is wrapping up the #YesAllWomen series with part of her own story, as well as some practical steps for moving forward. If, like me, you’ve read these stories and wondered “But what can I do?”, make sure you read this one.
Though I had only planned to run this series for a week, there are still stories that must be heard. So look for a few more guest posts in the next months as well.
In my all-female Catholic high school health and sex ed classes, I learned how to not be raped.
I learned how, if I was attacked, screaming “Help!” would be less effective than yelling “Fire!” I learned how the men in our lives are the ones most likely to harm us.
I learned that it was dangerous to be a woman, and that as a woman I needed to walk carefully into the darkening night.
I did it anyway. In my twenties, I walked my college campus and, later, the streets of my city at in the moonlit time. I rode my bike amidst the downtown carousers, along the river trails. I dared danger to find me.
I was never harmed.
In spite of all my health class anti-rape education, I didn’t know how lucky I was.
Because even though I never partied, never drank, and never dressed in what might be considered as a foolishly alluring way, I was (am) not immune. I could have easily been (could still be) one of the nearly twenty percent of women who have been raped in their lifetimes.
My husband’s co-ed Christian high school curriculum also included sex education.
But instead of learning about rape whistles and rohypnol, he and his classmates were taught explicitly about the male’s intrinsic and violent inability to control himself and his sexual urges. They learned about how it falls to the female to care for the male’s sexual thought life and the actions that result.
He believed it. They all believed it. I would have believed it, too, had I been there with them.
These educators’ lessons perpetuated not the sexual integrity they hoped to pass on, but rape culture – that women are things to be used, that women who are raped must have been asking for it, that male rapists are the real victims.
I cannot imagine what it would be like to be told point blank by those I trusted most that I was an animal, a sexual monster perpetually on the edge of the destruction of myself and others. That, for all a man’s intelligence and integrity, for all the kindness and love he have given to many, in the end he is living at the mercy of his penis, powerless against its urgings.
But I know what it is like to live as the object, to live defensively against this kind of mentality.
And I’m not the only one.
You don’t have to have been raped or assaulted or stalked to be a victim of rape culture and misogyny. You only have to be a woman in this world – anywhere in this world. Because yes, all women are affected by it.
(And all men, too, but that’s a topic for another article.)
Because of misogyny, after shacking up in a coffee shop in the evening to write, I feel afraid when walking to my car, no matter how short or well-lit the distance.
Because of misogyny, I no longer want to go downtown at night alone. The last time I did – for a babyloss support group meeting, mind you, not to party or drink – my polite smile at a passing man earned me the violation of him trying to get into my car with me against my will. I was able to slip into my car and lock the doors against him with terrifyingly few inches separating me from his intentions.
Because of misogyny, I have to suspect every man I meet on the street, instead of loving him as the fellow human being that he is.
Because of misogyny, I no longer go for walks in the moonlight.
Because of misogyny, I was told flat-out by a former boss that the reason his boss refused to give me the promotion that I was most qualified for and deserving of was solely because I was a woman.
Because of misogyny, at age twelve I thought, as a female, the only jobs open to me were that of secretary and teacher.
Because of misogyny, my vagina and properly functioning reproductive system are socially dismissed as disgusting, vile, and unmentionable – unless, of course, some guy wants to use them to satisfy his sexual urges. Then, I am expected to spread my legs.
Because of misogyny, a sensual, sexually healthy woman is criticized as a slut, said to be asking for it. A sensual, sexually healthy man is only praised. Relatedly, because of misogyny, a confident, intelligent, and boldly speaking woman – particularly a woman in authority – is called a hormonal, overly emotional man-eating bitch, while a man who carries himself in an identical manner is, again, lauded.
Because of misogyny, I did not enlist of the military, due to the disturbing prevalance of sexual violence against females by their fellow male recruits – and the almost complete lack of appropriate response to these crimes by authorities.
Because of misogyny, to do something like a girl – such as “throw like a girl” – is a derogatory statement.
Because of misogyny, I assume that I will be raped or assaulted at least once in my life.
Because of misogyny, I am not sure that I will report it if (when) I am raped.
Because of misogyny, I am scared – no, terrified – at the prospect of raising a daughter in this global culture that is willfully against women.
Because of misogyny, I am scared, period.
Maybe your mother, sister, friend, classmate, daughter, aunt hasn’t been raped. Maybe she is not the victim of a sexual crime. But do not assume that this means she is unaffected by misogyny. Because every woman is. Because every woman knows how to hold her keys as a weapon when walking to her car at night. Because every woman wonders if her outfit, no matter the skin it does or does not reveal, will earn her unwanted attention from a man who is deaf to her “no.”
Because every woman is afraid.
Yes, even her, and her, and her.
Yes, all women are affected, oppressed, shamed, and harmed by rape culture and misogyny.
And we will not stay silent any longer.
Fed up with rape culture and misogyny? Here’s some inspiration how you can affect change:
- Ten Things To End Rape Culture (The Nation)
- It’s Time to End the Culture of Online Misogyny (NewStatesman)
- Your Princess is in Another Castle (The Daily Beast)
- To End Rape Culture, We Must Address These 3 Things (Everyday Feminism)
Beth writes, paints, and dreams in Montana. She is the author of the creative healing workbook Life After Eating Disorder, and is the owner of Epiphany Art Studio. In addition to her quirky little family and their three naughty dogs, Beth is in love with luscious color, moon-gazing, and dancing wild. Her upcoming novel, The Light Between Us, releases June 14. She writes soul into flesh at her blog, and is saving the world at Act Small, Think Big.
[ image: yoshiffles ]
published June 5, 2014
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