Thursday, May 29, 2014

#YESallpeople #nonotthiswoman

I am, once again, baffled. Angrily baffled. Frustratingly baffled.

I don't get it. I'm admitting it, this one time: I DON'T GET IT.

I've been around in my life. No, really. I've been to drug-laced parties. I drank before I was twenty-one. Once, in my early twenties, driving alone at night, I picked up two male hitchhikers, and we drove around for a while and just talked. I've been to clubs and bars. I spent the better part of a year using the Los Angeles public transit on a daily basis. I've been on the brink of having sex with a man (I mean, right there) and changed my mind. I've been politely propositioned by older random men and swinger acquaintances alike, and declined. I can check off most of the list of "stupid, risky things women aren't supposed to do"-- and not only have I never been raped or sexually assaulted, I don't feel like I've ever come close. I've never been threatened with violence from a man for being a woman.  I've never been groped or harassed or gotten more than what I feel is reasonable attention-- a quiet proposition, a statement of interest, a once-over and compliment-- that didn't just lose interest when met with a polite but firm "no."

That's not to say that the experiences of women who have experienced harassment or violence aren't valid. But inherent to the idea of #yesallwomen are two premises: first, that all women share this pervasive fear of men, based on these universally shared experiences of ill-treatment by men; and second, that violence and harassment experienced by women is somehow fundamentally different-- and worse-- from the violence and harassment that men experience.

But that's not surprising. No, what's making me angry is this blog post from Courtney Enlow, "#YesAll Women, #YesAllPeople and the Dangers of Misunderstanding Feminism." What makes me want to cry and rage and scream is her stubborn, self-defeating opposition to empathy. Elliot Rodgers killed men, too. More men than women. Men are harassed, men are abused, men are raped, men are objectified. As she herself points out, "someone sharing their unique, specific experiences does not diminish anyone else's." Instead of spitting on the shared experience with men, why not take the opportunity to empathize and work together to reduce all the violence? Why the need to insist that your "unique and specific experience" isn't actually unique and specific to you, but is common to people with vaginas-- but arbitrarily exclude people with penises?

She ends by pleading:

I want to be loud. I don’t want to accommodate. I want to be heard. We want to be heard. Please. Someone please listen.
Why is it so important for you to be heard as a woman? If the essential part of your message is "I was hurt and I want someone, anyone, to know it," why does it matter whether that other person over there who was also hurt is a man or a woman?

Like I said, I don't get it.

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