A social worker told me once that the Turtle Effect is a real thing. (I’ve since googled similar and found many penis references. NOT THAT KIND OF TURTLING, ok?) I used to joke that I wanted to pull in my arms, legs and head and hide in the safety of my shell. Turns out I wasn’t far off the mark. Others must feel like that when vulnerable because it’s A Thing. Now you see me, now you don’t…
I get a lot out of social media and Internet interaction. I have just blogged about how much strength I get from being able to speak and share. Sometimes…that feeling leaves and I feel over exposed, stupid and unworthy. And then you have PTSD. (Oh hi, forgot you were waiting for a chance to fuck me up). I feel naked when sometimes my belief in things leaves me vulnerable to an outside force.
The issue I saw torn apart is the very topic addressed on this blog, sexual violence, and a woman I followed on twitter has now been written about for ‘rejecting men who want to help’ and ‘going too far’ in highlighting unhelpful language (*women should stay at home at night because rapists*) is at once ridiculous and complimentary, in my opinion. I don’t reject men, I reject assholes. Do I feel I have to go out of my way to ensure men are not offended when I speak openly about changing the language we use when discussing fear of rape? No, I really fucking don’t. Nor would I feel that I have to baby the women who can’t handle it. Two people blogged about this exchange on twitter (from which I am now on hiatus, for my own sanity) and used the woman’s twitter handle so that everyone could see who they were growling at in their posts. I am utterly gobsmacked.
A smart lady once told me that ‘what other people think of me is none of my business‘. That means that their thoughts are simply their own interpretations and I shouldn’t give a shit. Good advice. And I’m trying. I’m angry on behalf of the other woman. Publishing a scathing takedown and completely ignoring what was actually said (and only naming certain parties involved) is ignorance of the highest order. And I would suggest, reckless. This person could have made their point without using twitter details and images which identified the person she was aiming at. That would have been the respectful thing to do. Later I saw them asking other people on twitter to share their blog post. They ‘needed’ to be heard. They ‘needed’ to point the finger. For fucks sake.
If I had the emotional reserves, I would have engaged in some way. But I do not wish to engage any further with adults who react like Mean Girls. And I will not play My Rape Story is Worse Than Yours.
Rape is shit. For everyone, every variation of degradation and hurt. Funnily enough, that’s my point. That people rushed to reassure the man who said women should stay at home to avoid rapists (not maliciously, but perhaps unknowingly in his desire to keep the women in his life ‘safe’) really irked me. He later apologised and said someone had explained it to him. The other person posted her diatribe anyway. And the named tweeter who’d questioned the focus on women staying home at night time disappeared from twitter.
Here’s the point as I see it:
If we wish to move the focus onto those truly at fault in sexual violence, tough shit, that is men.
If we’re not talking about you, if you are a man but not a rapist, why in hell would you get so defensive/belligerent/whatever when a fact is stated? That’s YOUR problem, not ours. Deal with it. I know and interact with men *gasp* who do not behave like this and do not see the need to challenge my gender ‘issues’.
Women live with the reality of rape risk every day and night of their lives. We walk with keys in our fist ready to punch an assailant. We worry that getting in a taxi instead of walking might not be any safer. We monitor our drinks like hawks, guarding against spiking with drugs. Don’t tell me to stay inside at night. Don’t you dare.
We will ‘be careful’ because we have no other choice in life. She actually said in the post, “If he’d told you to lock you cars at night, you’d thank him. It was nothing more than a reminder about avoiding crime” Haven’t we travelled this well worn path before? Women who dare to be out after dark are like unlocked cars?? I. Can’t. Even. And neither could Clementine Ford here, after Moran blurted it to Freedman.
You know what else?
A woman is most at risk of physical and sexual assault IN HER OWN HOME. When she’s stone cold sober. In her flannel pyjamas or track suit. So the premise we seem to persist with about stranger danger and ‘risky’ adventures like walking a few blocks is in most cases, redundant as a safety measure. And to me, suggests that a recent victim of such horror could have avoided her fate. That is truly offensive.
Of COURSE women and girls ‘are careful’. How many of us do mini Risk Assessments everywhere we go? Like the Terminator, you scan the crowd, assess for potential threat and act accordingly. It’s EXHAUSTING. And the bastards will get you anyway. When you’re at a mates place. On a date. At work.
So you didn’t know that telling women they should stay indoors because Bad Men Are Out There actually felt offensive to many of us? Well, now you do. All she pointed out was that.
If you are someone who is compelled to drop in unannounced to defend the honour of a grown man being challenged then that is your right. But I would suggest to you that even you are unaware of what you are doing. In the end, he was able to learn from a new perspective. At least that makes one of you.
From watching this unfold, I am losing my shit. I am so deeply upset at what was done. It reminds me all over again how many times it was done to me, how it feels to have some random person tell you How It Is.
At least take this: NO WOMAN’S BODY SHOULD BE COMPARED TO AN UNLOCKED CAR. EVER. I can’t help but feel *more* affronted when these words come from another woman.
We are so far from change. It hurts.
- Three reasons why a vagina is not like a laptop (guardian.co.uk)
- Nobody Asks To Be Raped. Ever. (johnbalaya.wordpress.com)
- But men will respect us more… (meizac.wordpress.com)
- Author Suggests Rape Like ‘Leaving A Laptop In A Car,’ Blames Victims For Provocative Behaviors (addictinginfo.org)
- Problems With Sexual Assault Prevention Tips (blackcoffeepoet.com)
- I was raped when I was 21, and I can tell you, Nick Ross – all unwanted sex is a violation, says FERN BRITTON as she hits back at Crimewatch founder’s book (dailymail.co.uk)