Not all men

I recently came across this article (in Swedish), in regards to the “not all men” debate, about how men, ordinary Swedish (or other..) men, help themselves to women’s bodies. Somehow, the “right” that men (think they) have to put their hands on women, surpasses the woman’s own rights to her own body. How is that normal? How can anyone think that this is ok, truly, really, ever?

The author of the article, an ordinary Swedish man, talks about this skewed, unjust problem, and tells stories about how this all started in middle school, where boys, ordinary boys, chased girls, put their hands on them, looked down their pants. How it then morphed in adulthood and was translated into more violent sexual assaults and rape. The author saw his friends, co-workers, acquaintances, all ordinary men, help themselves in different ways to women’s bodies, and he thought, foolishly, that he would never, could never, do something like that. Until he did. Cause the problem here is not that the rapists, assailants, grabbers are all monsters that hide during the day and come creeping out of the bushes at night. No, it’s that they are ordinary men, who take a step, or two, or a hundred, too far, who help themselves to something that they have been brought up to think, is rightfully theirs.

The stories he told all sound familiar to me, and I am sure, to all of my female friends, however my, our, point of view is from the other side. I too remember how the ordinary boys in middle school all of a sudden started to grab us girls, how they sometimes playfully, sometimes violently, put their hands on our bodies. How we were just supposed to deal with it, to feel flattered by it, how “boys will be boys” was an ever present echo in the air. I cannot possibly recall all the numerous times that my ass was grabbed by an ordinary boy in school, but I do remember a specific instant: a regular day when I was sitting on a table outside the lunch room, waiting for my friends, and this ordinary boy, one of the cute older boys, came sitting next to me, how we talked, joked, and how he suddenly slipped his hand on my butt, like it was inevitable, normal, something that I should feel good about. And the problem was, that I in one sense did feel good since that was what I was supposed to feel; if the cute boy at school put his hands on you, you were supposed to feel proud, flattered, happy. The question of whether or not you wanted his hands on your body at that particular moment, was not even a question at all. Obviously, whenever he felt that some ass-grabbing was due, that was always the appropriate time. So while I sat there, feeling his hand on my butt, I felt nervously happy, but at the same time, very, very uncomfortable. In my head, I tried to convince myself that it was ok, that it was something good, that I should just shut up and be glad about it, about getting this sort of attention. Cause if I told him off, surely, I would be the biggest dork ever. Right? He would then probably tease me, or even worse: never pay attention to me again. And since my “worth”, my raison d’être was (I was taught) linked to the amount of attention received from the cute ordinary boys at school, I could never say no. Looking back now, I wish I had done something, but while thinking this, I get angry, because no; it was not my responsibility to not get grabbed by him. It was his responsibility to not put his hands on me. It was not my fault then, and it was not my fault years later when snorkeling in Egypt, where a guide decided to conduct me away from the group and put his hands on my breasts inside my bikini. It was not my fault any of the numerous times while out dancing with my friends when  someone came and touched me from behind. It was not my fault when I was grabbed on the tram. It was never my fault when some ordinary man put his hands on me without my consent. It’s their fault, always.

And like the author in the article argued: this is such a regular, normal, ordinary thing that happens to everyone, and if you cannot count at least 10 women who have been sexually assaulted in some way, and 10 men who have assaulted a woman, that is because they have not told you about it. It is not because it does not exist in your immediate circle of friends, family, co-workers, acquaintances, it is not because the ones who do that are monsters in hiding, or because “not all men” do that. All men, ordinary men, are capable of doing that, even the nicest ones, even the ones who “would never”. That is why the “not all men” argument has to die out. It has to be buried and forgotten so we can move forward and deal with the issue at hand, the norms that teaches ordinary men that they have the right to women’s bodies, that they may put their hands wherever they want, whenever they want.

This is a man’s issue, a woman’s issue, a human issue, everyone is involved, in some way or another, even those who de facto do not put their hands where they do not belong, if you are silently letting that happen around you, it makes you culpable too.

All men, ordinary men; it’s time to take a stand.

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One in Five

Some time ago I stumbled upon this video on Upworthy and I’ve been meaning to discuss it since, so here goes:

I guess this post is kind of a sequel to another one I wrote some time ago (Choices), but this issue really can’t be repeated enough..

When I first saw the video I found it hilarious, probably because I think most of the actors in it are very funny, and the whole situation they are facing is so ridiculous.

But you know, it’s not gonna eat all of us, it only eats like one in five, so..

However, the matter they are trying to spread awareness about is indeed not funny, not at all. It’s sick. And I find the whole issue so unbelievable; how can it not be obvious by this point in time that sexual assault and rape is unacceptable? How can this STILL be an issue? What the fuck is wrong with people?! When will everyone understand what consent means, and the importance of respecting it? It really is not that difficult, or, it shouldn’t be that difficult, but apparently, some people just do not seem to get it..

You guys know the old saying: “Bears will be bears”

In connection with this issue, I was happy to recently read about a news story regarding a Swedish lawyer who asked an accused rapist in court to describe his underwear. When the court asked about the relevance in this, she rebutted with: “It has the same amount of relevance as the thongs my client was wearing.” Her point being that it does not matter what the hell a woman choses to wear, a rape is not based on clothes, it is based on the rapist and we should all stop with the blaming and shaming of the victims because it is not their fault. The only one to blame for a rape is the rapist. I don’t care if a woman walks around buck naked, no one has the right to put a finger on her because of that. I don’t care if a woman flirts with a guy in a bar, that is still not a damn invitation for rape. And I don’t care if a woman said yes at some point and then before the “crucial moment” changed her mind to no. That No is still valid, we all have the right to change our damn minds however way we please and whenever we please. Really, consent is not that difficult to comprehend and also to respect; it is the difference between a yes and a no. Now if everyone could just get that into their thick skulls we could all move forward and focus on other issues. But until then, I am glad that there are people who make videos and speak up about this and shed a new light on it, cause this is a serious issue, it is a violent crime, and it should concern us all. One in five. That means that everyone most likely has or knows someone who has been, or will be, sexuality assaulted or raped. How can we all collectively accept this? The short answer is: we can’t.

Just pretending it’s not there will never make it go away.

Choices

Ok, say what you want about Lady Gaga and her music, however, couple of nights ago while perusing the web I came upon this video, which raises a very important and unjustifiable issue. I was moved by it, and before I knew it I had stumbled upon a rather frustrating debate on Facebook with some co-feminists and this one rather ignorant man. He started the debate by stating some statistics (who knows where the hell he even got them from) about there only being 6 cases of reported rapes in 1000 colleges, so what is all the fuss about? Well first of all, the fuss is not about this being an issue that happens so rarely and is so easy to get over we should all just get back to our own business and ignore it. The fuss is about this being a violent crime that should not happen at all. I don’t give a shit really if it happens to 1 in 100.000 women (or men for that matter), that is still 1 too damn many! The fuss is about us living in a world where this actually does happen, and trust me, I bet my own life on it, it happens in more than 6 occasions out of 1000, because the reported ones are not all that actually occur. We have no idea of knowing how many cases go unreported in our colleges, in our homes, in our cities, in our countries in the whole god damned world. But needless to say, it’s too damn many for it not being something to fuss about.

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We did not (surprise surprise) convince the man with our “female logic” and all of a sudden the debate was about gender, and him saying that basically us women are privileged and it’s our own faults cause we choose to have smaller salaries because we choose to have babies, and we choose to have low-paying jobs, because we choose not to work as hard as men. At this point, I was literally boiling. Apparently this guy has been living in a cave somewhere for the last thousands of years when the rest of society was built upon certain values, institutionalizing certain norms and certain social structures that we have, and are still stuck with, today. Cause how else on earth can you say that all of these things are choices? I did not choose to have the ability to have kids, but if I choose to have kids, that should still not be a reason for me earning less than the equivalent man (who also can choose, or not, to have kids, but at least is not more or less expected to have them by the society he lives in). I also did not choose, and have never chosen, to earn less than any man who performs the same tasks as I. For those who know me, know that I am a damned hard worker, and have always been, I do not like things handed to me on a platter, I want to earn everything for myself. But when I work as hard, or even harder, and still get paid less, well. Sorry but then I will start making a fuss.

When it comes to biology VS. society, I believe that the former is what gives us our basic foundation, while the latter is the force that actually shape who we become. We do not choose as much as we think we do, we only fool ourselves when we think all our choices are actually our own. Every choice we make is basically the product of our biology, culture and society, we are taught to like this and that, we are taught to choose this and that, we are taught to believe this and that. We are not ourselves but everything that surrounds us, and if you think for a minute that women chose to be the “second sex”, well think again. That is not, and has never been, a choice of ours. It has been stated, normalized and reinforced, over and over again. This must probably be one of the most used quotes when it comes to gender and feminism, but dammit, it can apparently never be said enough:

“One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.
– Simone de Beauvoir

Before leaving the never-ending debate I wanted to address the man one last time, (even though I know it would not make any difference to him), so I wrote:

Brandon, I do not know where you got the idea that white females are the most privileged ones, since throughout our history, and throughout the world, the only really privileged person in almost all categories is a white middle-aged man. And do you know why “he” is privileged? Because “he” is the norm = the focal point whether it’s about power, money, medicine, literature, art, advertising and media, heck even language (think of how language is built, what words we use, very simple example, take sports, it’s called football and basketball etc, but when girls/women play, it becomes “women’s football” and “women’s basketball”. Just “normal” football is played by men, for they are the norm). The world we live in is based on the white male norm, whether we like it or not. And what feminism wants to do is raise women to the same level as we have raised men for ages. Now I am sorry that you feel “oppressed” by feminists cause they seem to mostly raise and discuss “female” issues, but the issues they (we) raise actually involve you too, they are not female issues at all, they are human issues. And also, when trying to lift up one “minority” or oppressed group of any sort, is it really that unbelievably weird that the focus is on that group? It rather seems like you feel less valued as a man, and that stings since you, as a man, have always been the most highly valued. But take it easy, you are still the norm, cause we still have a looooong way to go before actually reaching something worth calling equality.
Good night.