Yesterday, my toddler was invited to a birthday party, we don’t attend kids birthday parties very often. I am not sure we are going to attend any more birthday parties in the near future…
Since I became a mother, I have had the privilege of evolving in a women only space most of the time. Non-employed parents whether they are in a relationship or not are mainly women. This has given me opportunity to listen to women’s stories, and gave me insights about mother’s and heterosexual women’s oppression. I am blogging about it here, that is when I am not too busy potty training or i am not chained to the kitchen sink.
It has also been 3 years in a very protective safe space. A space without men.
I have learnt to be very careful with all my interactions with men as my experience of being polite with them has led me to being raped. I am not sure if men actually see the difference between “good morning “ and “fuck me” if it is a woman who says those words. So i am now keeping all interactions with them to the strict minimum, if possible I just avoid them all together. Typically it goes something like this:
Him: “Do you have the time?”. Me: “…” walk on
Him: “It’s £2.50”. Me: “…” hands in the money and leave shop.
Him: “Hey princess!” Me: “Piss off you pervert or I call the cops now”
Yesterday’s birthday party, to my big surprise, included men! As guarded as I am, I have made (minimal) conversation with one of them:
Him: “Hey how you doing?”. Me: “I am ok thanks”.
Big mistake. He was also French. With 400 000 French people in London, you do tend to come across them quite a lot. But he was under the impression that as fellow compatriots we really should have a chat. Not me. I avoided him most of the time as well as I could and was my usual cold and hostile self as much as the social setting would allow me to be. He was vile. I noticed him starring at me a few times and hovering way too close to me for my liking. Later I realised he was looking down my tee shirt. I don’t know what it was with him . He clearly wasn’t going to be stopped by the presence of his wife and two daughters. Nor by the fact that I do look like what I am, a lesbian who doesn’t perform femininity, including hairy armpits and legs and nothing in my behaviour or look designed to attract men.
At some point I was encouraging my over-tired toddler to participate in some jumping games.
“Jump a bit! you know you love jumping!”. I said in French.
Out of nowhere and unsolicited creepy dude goes :
“hey! I love jumping too!”
“Jumping” in French is also a slang word for “fucking”.
Where, in other circumstances I would have been able to say something relevant to shut the fucker down.
“Keep your dick in your trousers and your mouth shut or I’ll chop them off.”
This time I could say nothing. The fact that he was there, surrounded by all his patriarchal friends and family, the fact that his “joke” had a double meaning didn’t allow me to react the way I should have or at least the way I would have liked to. I rolled my eyes in disgust and left the party few minutes after that. Before the candles were even on the birthday cake in fact, pretending my toddler was needing a nap now.
I have to say I felt really bad all afternoon. I felt crap at being victimised and crap at not being able to talk back.
I thought about how much was in his “joke”.
I thought of double meanings. I thought of grey areas. I thought how crazy I would have looked in front of everyone had I said something. I thought of how he would have said it was a misunderstanding and how he would have been believed. I thought how my feeling of disgust and anger would have been dismissed and shamed. I thought how there is no way for women to have justice or peace because rapists are so good at creating and manipulating grey areas. And how impossible it is for women to even be rightfully angry and seeking justice or revenge because of those grey areas.
“I didn’t sexually harass you. It was a joke”.
“ I didn’t rape you, it’s a misunderstanding.”
“ I didn’t hurt you , you said you liked it.”
I thought how this entire culture is creating grey areas for women to fall into like traps as soon as they interact with men.
I thought how his behaviour was a pure act of intimidation, although there were clear sexual connotations in it. It was not seduction he was looking for, it was submission and fear, it was a reminder that I am a woman and therefore I am not safe.
“Look ! I can sexually harass you here, in front of everyone and you know and I know you are powerless to stop me.”
I thought about that fucker’s wife. How she fell for him. What she must have gone through before she met him for her to think he was a decent human being. What she must have gone through and what kind of men she must have met in the past to make her want to spend the rest of her life with him. What courtship must have been like: him “seducing” her with sexual harassment “jokes”. What intercourse must be like. What he must be subjecting her to today and every day. How many times he cheated on her. How he must love to humiliate her and put her down.
I thought about how many men out there are just like him.
I thought about a particular BDSM sadist (read rapist) and his blog, where he carefully explains how we grooms his victims by humiliating them in public on the first date. And how half of them end up accepting absolutely anything from him, any humiliation, any sex act, any acts of physical violence.
I thought of 50 Shades of Grey and all the BDSM propaganda we see splashed around all day in the media, this huge marketing machine just to get women to accept to get themselves into dangerous situation with men. And once we get there, to have no defense and to not be able to say “NO”.
From dating, to getting married, to being strapped naked and vulnerable to a man’s bed.
I thought how powerless we all are then to claim any justice because “grey areas”.
“You got there willingly, it’s his word against yours.”
I thought how perfect the system is. The abuse going on behind closed doors every day and night and no one reports it. And no one to listen.
The fact that women cannot complain because no women can clearly say when sex is rape, because no women knows when sex is rape, (when women realise this, they stop sexually engaging with men).
THIS is the nature of heterosexuality, all of it, in this little nasty man’s “joke”. This grey area is how heterosexuality works and precisely how it ambush women.
And this is why women must stay away from it.