I make it a point to never present myself as a victim. I make my own choices, I take the cards that I have been dealt in my life, and I try my best to play them as well as I can. I know that on blogs like these, the ones that we use to try to get our names or books or photography out there, a certain level of anonymity and aloofness is a good thing. Here, on my blog, I am a bright, spunky, somewhat off-beat yet optimistic young author. I love Harry Potter and Benedict Cumberbatch and I like writing ghost stories. I try to present the very best of myself on this blog. The heavy stuff, the stuff that gets me down or that weighs on my mind, I normally don’t discuss on here, because, in a way, it’s better not to acknowledge them. After all, this blog is about trying to spread the word about my books, not the heavy stuff.
However, this #YesAllWomen movement has got me thinking. Maybe it’s okay to be open about the personal stuff, the serious stuff, every once in a while. In past trending topics, I haven’t had a whole lot to contribute. This time, I just might have a few things to say.
I’ve never been what one would call a hardcore feminist. Do I believe in equal rights for all in spite of gender, race, or orientation? Of course. But do I still like it when guys hold doors for me? Duh. I don’t like misogyny, but I don’t have a problem with little girls wearing pink or idolizing Cinderella. If a little girl (or boy for that matter) would rather be a Princess than a scientist, well then let the kid dream! But then again, this isn’t really a discussion about feminism. This is a discussion about what it’s like to be a woman in a society in which being a woman isn’t always safe.
I’ve never felt safe walking by myself at night. It’s just a fact. And it’s always been my normal. Whenever I have to walk somewhere alone after dark, I always call someone to talk to until I reach my destination. Always. I walk with my keys in hand. I’m constantly glancing around to make sure no one is following me or watching me. Overactive imagination? Paranoia? Perhaps. But when I was in grad school, a young girl was attacked on my campus one night. Her throat was slit. She was alone. It happens in real life. It’s not just a scary story.
I’m one of the lucky ones. I’ve never been attacked. I’ve never been raped.
I have been harassed. It was terrifying, but it’s not something I talk about very often, because, to be honest, I’m ashamed of it. It embarrasses me. I tell myself, “Oh, it’s not a big deal. Nothing happened. You got out fine. Besides, it makes you sound like a slut.”
How messed up is that? I was cornered by a man that I don’t know, who was twice my size, who touched my hair and my shoulder and told me to come back with him to his hotel room, and yet I’m the one who ends up feeling like it was my fault, that I’m the sleazy one because of it. It’s just something that’s been engraved in our minds. He didn’t do anything wrong. It must have been something I was doing, or I did, and I don’t want people to find out about it or else they’ll think I’m dirty somehow. If these are the thoughts that come from being unwillingly cornered, I can’t even imagine what other young women who have been raped or attacked feel.
I do believe that most men are good. I don’t blame them. I love all the guys I know and I know I can trust them. I’m not sure how men feel walking to their cars at night, if they ever feel apprehensive or that they have to run or talk to someone on the phone in order to feel safe. But that’s just how it is for us.
Love to all.
Thank you for posting this! I absolutely agree…I try to keep my blog professional and mainly focused on writing, but I also want to use it as an opportunity to talk about some of the things that matter. I love that this tag has opened up conversation, and given people courage (myself included) to speak up, when they might not have before. Sometimes men really don’t comprehend what we go through, simply because they’ve never had to worry about going some place alone or feeling so unsafe and vulnerable, anywhere really. Whether you have personally been assaulted or not, I can almost guarantee every woman knows someone who has, and she herself has been harassed, even if it did not become violent, it is still not okay. It’s just how things are–but they shouldn’t be. I’ve noticed a recent trend in men speaking up in public, and siding with us, and I hope this is a continuing trend and a step in the right direction. 🙂
Thank you, Victoria! I completely agree! And you’re right. I think a lot of men don’t realize it, probably because they’re good and they can’t imagine a woman being treated in such a way just because they can’t imagine treating women in such a way. None of the guys that I know now would do anything like that to a woman, and most them don’t know about my experience, because I didn’t want to tell them. I do hope the conversation continues. 🙂
Exactly! It is hard to tell guys what we have to deal with, even to my own boyfriend sometimes. A lot of times I don’t think it will help anything, so I just stay silent. I hope so too 🙂
That’s the thing. For some reason, we tell ourselves it’s not a big deal, but it is! I still don’t get why we think that way, but I definitely do.
Because we’re desensitized, since it’s just a normal, expected part of our experience! We really don’t know any different. Plus, part of it is probably I’m a little too stubborn and don’t like to ask for help 🙂 I like to handle it on my own, and not worry anyone else.
Again, very true. I don’t like asking for help either. I always feel like I have to justify it somehow. But unfortunately, sometimes it’s necessary.
Well, and even if something does happen, we’re always justifying it anyways. Oh, I’m probably just overreacting, it was nothing. I’m just paranoid. He was just being nice. Blah, blah. We’re really good at that too, unfortunately.
We are. I hate getting whistled at and leered at. Then I tell myself, “Oh, it’s harmless, I should take it as a compliment.” But I don’t. It makes me really uncomfortable in my own skin and my surroundings.
Seriously. And forget about going to bars and concerts, even in groups. I’ve gotten groped and harassed so many times it’s ridiculous. I don’t even like going places without my boyfriend anymore, which is kind of pathetic, just because I really don’t feel safe without him there. Which is sad! I should be able to go out with my girl friends without being uncomfortable.
Exactly. I was once at a party and this guy was making me feel really uncomfortable, so I snuggled up to my gay friend all night and told him to pretend he was my boyfriend.
Haha! Love it 🙂
I have always felt the less people know about an artist, the easier it is to enjoy their work, so I completely understand the hesitation in posting too personally.
Which is why I won’t touch this #yesallwomen thing.
Totally understandable, Charli. I didn’t know if I should post it. I hope I made the right decision!
Jackie – don’t question your decision to post this, this is a well worded, great piece. I don’t think speaking about this is being too personal or too political, even in an open platform like your blog which isn’t usually given this kind of spotlight. It’s all about how you handle it, and you’ve handled it beautifully.
Ashley, thank you so much. Your words are almost like an answer to a prayer, really. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that. Thank you!
I’ve considered myself a feminist for a very long time. Thought I have no direct access to the experience of being a woman, I am able to sympathize as far as I can, and since I’m an empathetic person, I try to imagine the situations my female friends and family have told to me.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. I appreciate your point of view and how your present it. I’m more egalitarian than anything else–I like equality across all categories.
Of course! Thank you! I like equality too. 🙂
That guy sounds like a jerk! Definitely not your fault.
I had a similar experience walking home from class at night. There was a guy who came up next to me, and the street was not well-lit. He started asking all these personal questions: if I had a girlfriend, if I lived alone, if I wanted to go places. I kept telling him no, but he didn’t leave. Eventually I started to panic, because we were getting close to my apartment and I didn’t want him to see where I lived. So, I ran across the intersection before my building without looking and a car almost hit me. I never saw him again.