Tonight, I will put myself in this position of illuminating things that are absolute common sense to me, even though I really don’t have to. Because I am exhausted. I’m exhausted by the same people reacting in the same ways to the same situations while so many others try to constantly improve. I’m exhausted by the same excuses, the same knockout-arguments about „*mumblemumble* free speech *mumblemumble* no right or wrong“, I’m just so fucking exhausted that I had to say it four times within five lines of text. Evaluations like this have been written on countless blogs before, by countless wonderfully patient people and Google would probably spew out all of those blogs and pages and books within the count of 1.5 seconds if anyone would ever just take the advice and GOOGLE IT.
But no one ever cares to, so I will do exactly what they keep expecting from me and put it in my own authentic, non-native-english words, to save them from the troubles of using a search engine.
I am obviously talking about sexism here. More specifically, about rape culture. Naturally, there is a reason I’m sitting in front of my laptop at 11.30pm, so I’ll start with something that happened to me an hour ago.
There’s a man, let’s call him J, who I had a casual sexual relationship with a couple of years ago. He is 35 today and working as a therapist. I ended it back then because he got very emotionally invested and I didn’t want anything close to something serious. We haven’t seen each other since then, but occasionally engage in casual conversations on facebook about the tv shows we both like. Game of Thrones marks one of those and I was just on my way home from visiting a friend when J texted me something like „Woah. What’s up with GoT rn?“. Not missing out on any opportunities to discuss the latest WTF-moments of Westeros, I replied „Right? Sansa’s gonna mess it all up if Littlefinger manages to manipulate her now.“, expecting him to further engage in the topic. He did no such thing but instead said „Damn yeah. She needs to be fucked so hard.“, which in german sounds even a little harsher (naturally). What could have been nice banter about a show suddenly turned into unpleasant images way too fast and I was exposed to the very triggering memory of the unnecessary rape scene with Sansa and Ramsay Bolton in Season 5. I might have been able to shake it on a different day, would have just went over it or ignored it, but standing there in the rain, Spotify shuffling Johnny Cash, I just wouldn’t have it. So I reacted by telling J that „this might not be the best way to put it regarding that rape scene“ which, honest to god, was by far the nicest way of voicing my reservations that I could think of. Expecting him to just ignore it or apologize with an abbreviated „sry“, I didn’t even think about what was going to hit me. And boy, I really should have. Five voice messages and endless paragraphs later I knew exactly why I was being no better than the nazis, sitting on a moral high horse, ignoring how he had always been SO mindful about consent in real life, behaving „like an american“ (if Trump voters only knew), trying to take away all of his rights, basically being feminist Satan. Naive as I am, I tried to explain it all, on a socio-cultural level, on a psychological level, on a personal level. Having experienced abuse myself, I even desperately disclosed this piece of information to him, hoping that it would at least cause him to shut up. You’ll never guess what happened, but surprisingly he continued to repeat his former accusations and in the end I just stopped and said „Good night, J“ (which he maturely answered with „Oh? So are you discriminating the day now by saying ‚good night‘?“).
I wish this little talk was as funny for me as it is to rephrase it now. Unfortunately, little chats like that one happen to me on a regular basis, with regular people in my regular environment, whether they should actually be old and educated enough like this dude or are just starting to be exposed to the wonderful world of sexist norms. These talks have been bothering me for quite some years now and, believe me, I tried every approach. All of them. From mere ignorance to irony to scientific proof to sheer aggression and pig latin, nothing. ever. helps. So why do those men feel so entitled to their right to use a certain term or look at me in a certain way or slap my ass when they’re drunk enough to gather the confidence?
The answer is self-evidently privilege. The vast majority of them have never had their ass slapped by grunting women that reek of beer. They most likely never have been subjected to a teacher making an inappropriate joke about their junk. They don’t write a somewhat feminist blog while trying not to use words like „trigger“ and „privilege“ too much because it might keep someone from reading on.
Sometimes i just imagine being a guy for a minute. These imaginations include a multitude of things but 90% of them are somehow related to just walking around somewhere. Simply walking. Without already spotting a man from a 100 yard distance, who is going to cat-call you within the next 30 seconds. No elderly women disapprovingly glaring at your thighs on the train because they have internalized sexist stigma so much, their only way to deal with it is to apply it to others even more. And no repeatedly turning around at night. My heart starts beating at an unreal rate just by the thought of it. Not having to put away your headphones so you’re able to hear steps, how delightful that would be.
However, the plain lack of knowledge behind what J said was not what bugged me the most. It made me angry and frustrated, needless to say, but that alone doesn’t trigger bad memories or the fear of experiences that make them. It’s the realization, no matter how often it hit me before, that being a man makes you a part of some sort of cult, where objectifying women, harrassing them and also hurting them with your language is much less important than having everything stay exactly as comfortable as it is. The thought of having to come up with synonyms seems to be so much more inconvenient to men like J than the image of me having to deal with re-traumatization, anger, sadness or political exasperation. I can come up with at least 10 different terms he could have used to express his concerns about Sansa but the seconds it would take J to think of them must somehow be counted in swiss franc, while the hours it takes me to stop thinking about it would be something like vietnamese Đồng.
After all, this is what keeps rape culture alive. To rather knowingly practice it than think of something else. To rather hurt a woman than somehow betray men. To rather say „Damn, i had no idea“ when a girl tells you about her abuse than to make it unnecessary for her to disclose it to you.
To irrevocably think that someone destroyed a conversation by having something set off in their subconsciousness by your words, instead of taking a smidge of responsibility for those words.
If y’all know so well what you’re saying and why it is your right to do so and how brutally dictatorial it is to suggest anything else, why stop at that amount of wisdom instead of enhancing it by just listening to what a woman has to say for a minute? How hard can it really be?