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Misogyny: A Song to Which I Will Not Dance

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You know how sometimes you’ll be walking along, all chipper and whatnot, and you’ll steal some lilacs from a bush clearly on private property, and you’ll put them in your purse, and you’ll notice how nice the sunset is, and you’ll take a sip of your energy drink, feeling all full from the hot wings you managed to almost-guiltlessly cram into your mouth thirty minutes earlier…and then there you are, thirty feet from the Travelodge, and on the balcony is a group of dudebros.

You hear them before you see them, because they’re loud and boisterous and inane. And then they see you. And then they stop talking. And then you’re like, fuck.

Because of course they have something to say, and it’s not even anything new, and it won’t even make a half-decent story later because it’s so commonplace—but it leaves you feeling angry and gross, and your Java Monster goes all flat in your stomach, and you suddenly feel like throwing things at them and screaming.

Just—why, street harassers? Why?

I don’t have a car, so I’m “the girl that walks everywhere.” (I used to be “the happy smiling walking girl,” but apparently I’ve developed some bitchface.) Sometimes the people who see me every day also think they know me, which they don’t—because I’m not just a body in motion, I’m a person inside a body. Ok?

But whatever—some people just don’t get that. And when I was walking today, with my lilacs and my pretty fucking sunset, I realized that I’m so used to street harassment, I actually know the rhythms of it:

Dudebros stop talking

Brief pause

Them: generic greeting, douchily uttered

Me: no response

Them: comments about my body/overall attractiveness

Me: no response

Them: comments about how friendly I’m not/what a bitch I am

Me: no response

Them: last ditch attempt to get my attention

Me: no response

Them: pouting/dismissal/suggestion that I’m not worth their time anyway

Me: FINALLY.

And it’s just variations on this theme—every goddamn time.

It already angers me that harassment is something women and girls are apparently supposed to expect—but realizing that it’s not only inevitable, but actually follows a formula? Well.

I went home, and I arranged my stolen lilacs in a mug that I set on my kitchen table. And then I sat there thinking, what the fuck.

Because you know what? I love men. I do. Which is not to say that I love each individual man in the world, or even that I’ve loved a single one of my boyfriends (because I really haven’t), but I do love men as a group. You know who doesn’t love men, though? Or even like them?

Men’s rights activists.

I really love man boobz. I think it’s an invaluable cultural document, and I appreciate that Futrelle posts the misogyny right on his blog, so I can read it there instead of giving the source websites more traffic. It makes me happy to see a man policing other men, because it can’t just be women calling out misogynists—men need to take a stand too. Dave Futrelle, you are great.

That said, I find man boobz incredibly difficult to read, and will often ignore it for days, even weeks at a time. The seething hatred for women makes me feel tiny and furious, like a squeaky mouse with too-small paws trying to claw its way up an oak tree. Every time I read it, I want to scream.

And then sometimes I’ll step back a bit, and look at what they’re saying, and just feel kind of sad.

Seriously, MRAs, do you honestly believe you’re all that dumb, childish, unable to distinguish between rape and consensual sex, and unqualified to parent? Are you really incapable of practicing safer sex, preventing pregnancy, and generally acting like a responsible adult? Are you so lacking in self-restraint that you can’t respect a woman’s boundaries? Are you too uncomfortable in your masculinity to cope with people who don’t conform to gender stereotypes? Is that it?

Because it doesn’t need to be that way. Because I think you’re better than that—or at least you could be. You have the power, and the ability, to do better. I know; I’m a feminist, and I’m supposed to hate men and eat fetuses and stuff. But actually, like most feminists, what I really hate is the patriarchy—and so should you, because that’s the force trying to mold you into a specific masculine ideal.

And as for you, dudebros at the Travelodge who ruined my perfectly good mood: I know it’s not about me. Ok? It’s about masculine performance; it’s about power. It’s about you feeling like an asshole, and choosing to direct it at me. But that’s not your only option. You have others.

And I have pretty fucking lilacs, lots of energy, and a low bullshit threshold. So.

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About Paprika

Paprika Davis is a perpetually annoyed twenty-something college student waitress who would rather be a squirrel. The lack of commas in the previous sentence bothers her, but her laziness overrides her desire to improve the writing.

5 responses »

  1. ugh. I too am always walking woman and I too am such a bitch for not responding to every dudebro with something boundary-breaking to say. and I can’t complain because what the he’ll do I expect for not walking around in a burqa- though the 6 layers I wear head to toe in the winter doesn’t dissuade the dudebros.

    Reply
  2. Yeah ignoring those guys is what I mostly do. Even though I have not always been successful at that… the two-finger salute has been given by me at times which really just makes the jeering worse. Sometime I can’t help it though because it get’s tedious. I mean… really lads… give it a break.

    Reply
  3. @PF: Yeah, the “why did you dress like that, then?” BS pisses me off, because it’s utterly irrelevant. It doesn’t matter what women wear–we will always be harassed in some way. The only thing that MIGHT change is the nature of the comments, although in my experience they’re usually so generic they stay about the same. It’s not about clothes, or how we look in them; it’s about us being ladies, out in the world, brazenly existing like we do.

    @Ivy: Ugh, yep, sometimes I fail at that too, and it usually just makes it worse. Although there was one time when I was nineteen and started screaming at an old guy who had been harassing me for over three months (to the point where he would actually get in his truck and follow me around shouting). I just broke down and yelled at him for five solid minutes–something about how I was going to go find his wife and tell her what a disgusting creep her husband was, and how I was going to take his picture with my phone and post it on the internet with a great big caption that said “pederast,” etc. I don’t even know what all I said, but he never bothered me again.

    But otherwise, yeah. Retaliation just makes them escalate. Sigh. :/

    Reply
  4. Yeah, not going to lie, in my dreams I am allowed to tag catcallers with paintballs, and then a special extraction team follows up with tranq darts, where the catcaller, unable to function in a civil society, is humanely transported to the yukon territory and allowed to run wild and free, proving his masculinity to other catcallers by having tree fucking contests. Hey, it’s what we do with bears, and they are way less annoying and dangerous than catcalling, stalkery, douchenozzles.

    Reply

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