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I do believe that when we get angry, it comes from within. As much as we may say that people make us angry, whatever those actions are that are enraging us, they are connected to an experience or feeling within ourselves that is so often unbeknownst to the target (source) of our anger. And, often, unbeknownst to ourselves.
I was really angry last year when I got home from time spent volunteering and researching in Berlin and Ghana. Anger reared as soon as I returned home, basically. My previous post, “why are you so angry”, was a semi real but very angry response to that question, as I got it from several friends. The post, “you’re too sexy to be a librarian,” is a more subdued anger, more researched, and thought out. Both stem from an anxiety/energy/anger inside of me. Impulsively, I could blame the experiences I’ve had here and abroad, but I’ve realised that, as much as there is negativity surrounding some of them, they’ve led me to a place I’ve never been before. What woke me, what angered me, what led me to see my anger, was traumatic in some ways, but isn’t the fundamental essence of change… painful? And since pain is hard, viewed as negative, we often connect change and transformation with the negative. But pain is a positive. It is our ally. My pain woke me up to a negativity I’ve been harbouring in myself for so long.
Many times, I’ve been touched and not been asked permission.
Many times, I’ve been spoken to without discretion.
Many times, I’ve been penetrated without concern of whether I actually I wanted it.
I let it happen? I didn’t know how to stop it? I was asking for it?
What I do know, is that as a woman, I am praised for being sexy.
I am shamed for my sexuality and my desires.
I am expected to be virginal. I am expected to play hard to get. I am expected to put out at the purchase of a drink.
I am shamed for having many sexual partners and experiences.
I am praised for knowing how to please a man.
I am shamed for knowing how to please a man.
This is the way it is under the patriarchy in the developed world. Women are objectified. Viewed as property. Valuable only in relation to their male counterpart. If you try to argue that this is not the case, I beg you to ask yourself, what would the world be like if women had always had an equal opportunity to join the workforce? Run for office? Because it is not the world we live in, as we have seen with the #metoo movement.
The sexualization of women has handicapped us. Put us at a disadvantage. If everyone’s goal around the world was gender equality, we would see a multiplicity of our problems solved by simply educating women. Women at large are not as educated as men, as they cannot go to or stay in school simply because they are women. This is the way it is in the developing world. Think of the untapped potential of female problem solvers!
In one of our discussions about feminism and fundamentalism, I told my father that I have been raped more times in the developed world than I ever would be in the developing world, and his response was that that is because I carry my Western privilege.
I am privileged. Sure. But don’t you see that the idea of privilege comes with an idea of “better than?” And my point is that we are not. Yes, in terms of infrastructure, but the progress we think we’ve made in terms of gender equality is not all there. (Again, as the #metoo movement has shown).
My most recent experience of being raped happened right before I went to Ghana, while I was staying in Berlin with my very good friend. One night I was out later than my friend, and was hanging out with this guy who was giving me drugs and kept talking about how cool and pretty I was and that it must be so hard for me to get hit on all the time, and I was getting hit on a lot that night, and had my pick, and deemed this guy worthy.
Apparently a thing that happens in Berlin is drugs and sex in the bathrooms. When in Rome? So I was making out with this guy in the bathroom, gross, but okay, and I told him I was not having sex there. He was like, “but a blow job?” And for whatever fucked up reason, that made sense. So I succumbed reluctantly and we venture back out to the dance floor and I’m like, “Let’s get out of here?” And he says we can’t go back to his… because his girlfriend is there.
I’m livid, I tell him off. I feel so dumb. Why did I pick him? I should have asked him if he had a girlfriend before making out with him? Surely, the next guy that hit on me, I did ask that right away. He said no, and he said his name, and it sounded very American for a German, and I even made him show me his ID. I know now that having an American name in Germany is trashy, (it’s okay if you’re American, just not if you’re German), and we were on the East side, which is also where he lived, and he said we should get out of there.
And I was riled up and dtf, so we went back to his as the sun was rising. I was just finishing my period and pulled my cup out discreetly, and we were making out and I asked him where his condom was. 1. I did not want to have sex without a condom, (and usually Germans are so good about condoms (…at least the two others I had been with). 2. I did not want to bleed on his dick. He says, “I don’t have one. Girls usually carry them.” I was pissed. I said, “We’re not fucking then.” He said, “You just want to go to sleep?” I said “Yes.” And passed out.
A couple hours later, I woke up to his dick in my vagina. I don’t know if it was bloody. I knew I wasn’t enjoying it and can’t imagine that I started that in my sleep. But it was suddenly happening to me. He was on top of me. And rather than stop it. I touched my clit and tried to get off.
And then I got out of there without saying much of a word.
It was the most obvious time, to me, that I had been raped.
I did not consent to that.
It made me realize other times that I had not really consented. Times in college. Times after college.
Of course, I’ve had many consensual experiences, in my life I was with a boyfriend from high school and through college that was my first everything, but I made him wait almost a year before having sex with him. He only ever did what I was comfortable with. I grew up going to a Christian church every Sunday, and was convinced I would wait till marriage, until I fell in love, and then it didn’t make sense not to, by the time I was ready to be that intimate with him.
But after we broke up and being a drunk girl in college, I realize that I was taken advantage more than once. I definitely had a couple experiences where I realize now that the guy did not care if I wanted it or not.
This is rape culture. This expectation that we place on ourselves to give men what they want without regard to if we actually want it. And then that men take it without regard to if we actually want it. That is not okay. We are belittled to objects rather than sensual humans.
Having that experience in Berlin, and then going to Ghana, and being approached by the clear patriarchal power there, was quite a mind fuck.
I had a really good time in Ghana, absolutely, and I’m so thankful for every encounter I had, truly, because it was all so interesting. I wasn’t physically raped in Ghana, but I was seen for the idea of what I was, a white Western woman, and definitely could have been taken advantage of, as many white women are. There is a white lady scam, as they say. I was proposed to more than once, and thought of as a possible patron by the young male driver we got familiar with, at least by his village chief. I was ordered around by men just because I’m a woman. It was an obvious power structure, but I understood it. The patriarchy in the developed world has not been as obvious. It has not been as seen or understood. But it is blatant as soon as you are woke.
As I’ve discussed previously, I was touring villages and having chats with girls about reproductive health. Girls stay at home when they have their periods because they have no products. Women in the developed world are being casually raped and sexually harassed; women in the developing world can’t get an education and don’t understand how their bodies work and think that their periods are evil and that virginity is a prized thing. Even though it’s a concept invented by men to control women.
Virginity and it’s socialised connection to innocence has detrimental implications for women worldwide. It is a tool used to judge and oppress and control. Religiosity included, which is also a socialized and patriarchal construct, virginity as a term is actually nonsense. There is no normal. We are born sexual beings and shame is just a method of control that belittles and oppresses. We should not be ashamed of our desires, as long as they are not harming anyone, and we should respect everyone’s desires, just as we respect each other for having different likes and interests.
It seems like my dad doesn’t believe in victims, like its a term of Socialism, and he thinks that’s evil because every man should help himself and be a Capitalist and work the system. The system is fucked and the cards are stacked against anyone who is not a white male. They’re the ones in power, and women are treated inferior because of that patriarchy. As is anyone of color. The matrix we live in has been built by the men that have always been at the top and have passed down that power. Slowly but surely we have been eroding that. But there’s still so much work to do to obtain an equal world in terms of gender. Dad says this power is a burden and we should be thankful to men for taking it on. Did you give us a choice?
I was really angry when I got home last year. I was really hurt. I was really sad about the way the world is. I am still. But I returned to Berlin and had my best birthday weekend ever this summer. I was never angry at Berlin, but to do that meant a lot.
Things have been bad, but we can make them better. I think there are people who are really trying to do that. I don’t want to be angry at men, because I know that we have males allies. I won’t say women are better than men, and although my previous writings may explicitly say that, I know that we are just as capable of evil as men, we just haven’t really been given the chance or the attention.
We, as humans, are capable of so much, and if we would only work together, we could accomplish so much more than what we have. And obviously, we need to.
I need feminism because I want girls around the world to go to school. To be able to obtain reproductive resources. To be educated about how pregnancy happens and that periods are okay and that it’s okay to stay in school and not have a baby and man right away.
I need feminism because I never want to have a nonconsensual sexual experience ever again.
I need feminism because I don’t want to hear about my friends having nonconsensual sexual experiences.
We need feminism because men deserve to come out about their own experiences being sexually assaulted.
I need feminism because I want women to voice their wants and desires. We have been placating to men and what they think a women should be. Maybe we still enjoy being all those things you want us to be, and that’s fine, that’s our right, but we also want to be given the chance to be more. See us as smart. See us as creative. See us as talented and skilled in different and similar and wonderful ways and don’t be upset about it but support us.
We already see you as more than the protectors that maybe men think they have to be. See yourselves in a more diverse role as well. Be vulnerable.
I don’t want to be angry. I don’t feel angry. I feel ready to use my words. And speak my truth. And encourage others to do the same.
Tags: #feministaf, #thisiswhyineedfeminism