If someone has been bitten by a dog, it’s seen as perfectly rational for them to not really like dogs, or be a bit wary around all dogs, or dogs they don’t know. But when women try to do this in an attempt to be or feel safer after experiencing sexual assault or harassment, people freak the fuck out.
I don’t feel safe around men I don’t know or trust. If you identify as a man, yeah you should be a bit pissed off about that. But your anger or your disgust is entirely misdirected if it’s aimed at me.
All I am trying to do is keep myself safe. And for that I’m told that I don’t give the guys who aren’t rapists enough credit – you don’t get a cookie for not raping or harassing people, it doesn’t work that way. For that I’m told that I must have a secret ‘man-hating’ agenda which I want to instill into all women – even though I don’t realise myself that I have an agenda.
If your anger at the fact that I don’t feel safe around guys I don’t know is aimed towards at me, you are part of the problem. Why on earth are you angry at the person who is trying to keep herself safe and feel protected, rather than the dudes to harass, assault and rape and cause me and countless other women to take extraordinary measures in order to avoid that?
Your response to me, or any other person, talking about their experiences of sexual assault and harassment should not be about you. It should not be about how you’re not like that though, and it’s not fair to paint all men like that. Particularly when I outline quite clearly why I paint all men like that initially. Because guess what? My experiences, and my valid and rational response to these experiences, are Not. About. You. Not even a little bit.
So yay for you that you haven’t raped or assaulted someone. Funnily enough, making me feel uncomfortable and unsafe talking about my experiences doesn’t make me feel any safer around you when I know you in real life. When you hide behind internet anonymity to dissect my experiences in a way so painful I can’t read it myself and to belittle me and mansplain what ‘rape culture’ is (hint: it is promoted by society, get your head out of your ass), you are going out of your way to make someone feel uncomfortable to ‘prove’ that you’re not one of ‘those guys’ who makes women uncomfortable.
When you attempt to silence women talking about their experiences of sexual assault and harassment, whether it’s by threats or making them feel like they’re making a big deal out of nothing, you are adding to the problem. And while you yourself may not be a rapist or an abuser (though I honestly have yet to meet a man who has never sexually harassed a woman, even if it was a long time ago and they’ve realised what a shitty thing it is to do), silencing the women who feel strong enough to talk is a trait of abusers and rapists. They wouldn’t want their victims/survivors talking, so it makes them uncomfortable when others do.
The support I got from writing that blog was unbelievable and so heart warming. And the fact that writing it meant that a few people felt like they could talk to me about their experiences of assault and harassment makes it more worthwhile. And I’m not going to back down, even though the abuse and the intentional harassment is shitty. Because it’s not as shitty as what others go through. And because I have an utterly amazing support network. And because of this quote, which a friend told me this morning when I was anxious and upset: ‘A successful woman can build a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at her’.