What if all women were bigger and stronger than you? And thought they were smarter? What if women were the ones who started wars? What if too many of your friends had been raped by women wielding giant dildos and no K-Y Jelly? What if the state trooper who pulled you over on the New Jersey Turnpike was a woman and carried a gun? What if the ability to menstruate was the prerequisite for most high-paying jobs? What if your attractiveness to women depended on the size of your penis? What if every time women saw you they’d hoot and make jerking motions with their hands? What if women were always making jokes about how ugly penises are and how bad sperm tastes? What if you had to explain what’s wrong with your car to big sweaty women with greasy hands who stared at your crotch in a garage where you are surrounded by posters of naked men with hard-ons? What if men’s magazines featured cover photos of 14-year-old boys with socks tucked into the front of their jeans and articles like: “How to tell if your wife is unfaithful” or “What your doctor won’t tell you about your prostate” or “The truth about impotence”? What if the doctor who examined your prostate was a woman and called you “Honey”? What if you had to inhale your boss’ stale cigar breath as she insisted that sleeping with her was part of the job? What if you couldn’t get away because the company dress code required you wear shoes designed to keep you from running? And what if after all that women still wanted you to love them?
Some people underestimate how erotic it is to be understood.
I asked all of the gay male students in the room to raise their hand if in the past week they touched a woman’s body without her consent. After a moment of hesitation, all of the hands of the gay men in the room went up. I then asked the same gay men to raise their hand if in the past week they offered a woman unsolicited advice about how to “improve” her body or her fashion. Once again, after a moment of hesitation, all of the hands in the room went up.
These questions came after a brief exploration of gay men’s relationship to American fashion and women’s bodies. That dialogue included recognizing that gay men in the United States are often hailed as the experts of women’s fashion and by proxy women’s bodies. In addition to this there is a dominant logic that suggests that because gay men have no conscious desire to be sexually intimate with women, our uninvited touching and groping (physical assault) is benign.
don’t explain it away. I’m not stupid: I understand that my anxiety isn’t logically cohesive. I know that worrying about all the things, fairly indiscriminately, is not rational. AND: I still feel anxious.
How about you remind me about things within your control? Tell me you’ll see me even if others (mis)judge me. Tell me you believe I know what’s best for me. Tell me I am deserving of love and respect; tell me that it’s ok to not make space for people that don’t love and/or respect me.
But seriously. Just let me have my feelings. Stop trying to change them. It doesn’t work and it’s paternalistic. You’re not soothing me with your logic. You’re simply frustrating me with your lack of understanding and compassion.
i’m sorry, but that’s just the way it is
This still happens to me.
A healthy relationship is one where two independent people just make a deal that they will help make the other person the best version of themselves.
Why, for example, should bad experiences with members of a particular group lead to a lifetime of prejudice, hatred, and violence against them? Having a bad experience with someone who wears glasses is unlikely to cause antipathy toward people who wear glasses, but people often say their prejudice against groups such as blacks, women, or Jews is based on a few bad experiences during their younger years.
The difference between people who wear glasses, on the one hand, and Jews, blacks, and women on the other is that the latter are all regarded and treated as a devalued subordinate group in a racist, anti-Semitic, sexist society, while the former are not. What turns a bad individual experience into a pattern of prejudicial, discriminatory, and violent behavior is a social environment that encourages and supports just that sort of generalization.
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