This dude from the Congo has been emailing me for more than a year saying, “I love you, I kiss you, you my baby angel.” He’s not a scammer, he’s a desperate, mentally ill man who will not get the message to stop contacting me. And I’m pissed. I’m pissed because I have to block him. Pissed that people harass others. Pissed that as a woman I have to deal with this on a frequent basis. Pissed that it makes me feel unsafe.
A friend pointed out she feels unsafe with other women and that men have to deal with this stuff too. I completely agree and absolutely dream of a world where all people feel safe. But for the purposes of this post I’m focusing on women, primarily because there is more often a threat of violence against them. One in four women is sexually assaulted and it occurs every two minutes in the U.S., according to RAINN. I haven’t seen that same statistic for men. People, this is wrong. We do not have to accept this as a point of fact.
What also has me up in arms is this column about how some creepy dudes are allowed to continuously make unwelcome advances on their female friends because the men in their circles are not admonishing the dude for his behavior. His behavior so often gets excused because he is a “nice guy.” Being “nice” should not give anyone anywhere a free pass. If the Dalai Lama punches someone in the face there should be consequences. We cannot say, “It’s the Dalai Lama so it’s OK!” We cannot allow anyone anywhere to inflict harm on others through thought, word, or deed, except in certain circumstances. And believe me, the weirdo who continues to email me saying he’s coming to the U.S. and plans to marry me is harming me with his words.
It’s not enough that I as a woman say he has to stop. There needs to be peer pressure from men too. The only way any of this behavior will change is if we get both genders involved. Otherwise, feminists will still get portrayed as man-hating, bra burners who think women should be treated better than men. We see this all the time in the media as straw feminists. For the record, that’s inaccurate. As a feminist, it means I believe people should be treated equally, not the world should be man free.
I know this post is ranty but that’s because I’m filled with righteous indignation. And even though things are not moving NEARLY as quickly as I would like, I’m heartened by other recent events. One, that a male comedian drove home the point of why rape jokes aren’t funny after the Daniel Tosh incident. Two, that on Friday night I ran into a guy I’ve seen around my recovery meeting place but never actually met. He walked me all the way home and didn’t ask for my number or do anything but be an absolute gentleman. He respected my boundaries 100%. I’m also heartened by you, my male readers and friends because you know how to treat women with respect. You remind me, in my life at least, the good men outweigh the jerks. You remind me that for every perv who thinks women need to be “worn down” and “persuaded” to date them, there are at least three who understand, “No” means “No.”
I dream of a world where men and women can walk around at any time of day or night and feel safe. A world where men and women are treated equally. A world where peer pressure is enacted to keep everyone in line and there’s a clear sense of what’s acceptable and what’s not. A world where all people are respected. A world where we treat others the way we’d like to be treated. A world where we understand equality begins with we.
Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.