I’ve been struggling to describe what I felt — to describe what I am still feeling — after hearing his words. After reading his words. After reflecting on his words.
Of course, they weren’t much. Just a few jumbled characters buried beneath an article I had written (on mental health), but they were enough to upset me. They were enough to anger me, and they were enough — just enough — to scare me, to rattle me, to shake me to my core. Because these words weren’t just harsh or judgmental. They weren’t just abrasive, callous, and cold. They were vulgar and sexualized. They were violent.
What she needs is a strong man with a huge c**k. That’ll fix her. I will fix her [depression]. (Which, in case you are wondering, is complete and utter bullshit: Huge c**ks don’t cure depression, and f**king won’t “fix” mental freakin’ illness.)
But I suppose I should give you a bit of backstory about the article and myself because maybe I did something to deserve this vitriol, right? Maybe I was rude or offensive? Maybe his comments had some merit? Perhaps I am too tense and uptight? Maybe I do need a good f**king or just some sexual release? And maybe I need a big fat c**k…
Oh wait, no. Nope. None of this is true. At all.
You see, I didn’t do a damn thing wrong. I didn’t deserve to be spoken to in this manner because no woman deserves to be spoken to in this manner, and regardless of who I am or what I do, I should not be subjected to sexual taunts. I should not be subjected to such aggressive and downright terrorizing language because language like this is demoralizing and demeaning. Language like this is degrading, and it is not — well, should not be — acceptable.
Language like this is sexism at its finest.
Of course, I know what some of you are thinking: Oh, you are being dramatic/too damn sensitive. It was just a joke. Buck up, Buttercup, and stop being a pussy. But if you are thinking these things, or saying these things, let me share something with you: Every time you hear this sort of language and say nothing, you are part of the problem. Every time you use this sort of language, you are part of the problem, and every time you ignore it — every time you disregard feelings as “sissy sensitivities,” or refer to emotions as feminine traits as “pussy-like” traits — you are part of the problem.
You are reinforcing stereotypes and normalizing gender discrimination and intimidation. You are normalizing and encouraging sexual aggression. You are excusing violence. In fact, according to Everyday Feminism, “Language like ‘f*ck you’ and ‘suck my d*ck’ is rape-permitting and normalizes sexual violence. It creates a society that is full of rape myths and rape, even though we never talk about it. It creates rape culture.”
But I’m tired of sitting back, bending over, and shutting up, so today I am talking about it. I am talking to you anonymous internet commenter, and all men like you:
I know you do not know me, nor do I know you, but I know about you because I’ve sat in college classrooms behind men who think like you. I’ve been forced to work alongside men who speak like you, and I’ve encountered “your kind” not only online but also in real life.
You’ve been you lurking — and leering — at me since I developed curves and my body created something resembling an ass.
You’ve been harassing — and sexualizing — me since I sprouted breasts.
Logically, I know you aren’t the same man who catcalled me at 14, and you aren’t the man who tried to pick me up at 16 by asking me, “How much?” I know you aren’t the man who threatened to leave me in middle-of-nowhere New Jersey if I didn’t blow him, if I didn’t get him off. And I know you aren’t the man who showed me his dick at work, who literally pulled off his pants in a stock room, who pulled out his pecker in the “back-office.” And yet you are.
You are every one of these men, and they are you.
Of course, I normally do not respond to men like you and comments like yours, because if I’m being honest, I know you rarely listen. I mean, you may hear me, but you will also snicker and laugh and roll your eyes, and my time is worth more.
My words are worth more.
But this time I felt compelled to speak not to you but because of you.
I felt compelled to say something on behalf of you to the thousands of women who have been exactly where I have been. Who have been threatened with acts of violence and aggression. Who have been demeaned and degraded and threatened with sexual force at home and online, on the street or in their place of work, who live in constant fear.
Because yes, whether you realize it or not, your words are terrifying. Your proposed actions are terrifying.
Make no mistake, you probably don’t see anything wrong with your aforementioned comment. It was “man talk.” It was “locker room talk.” It was just another case of “boys being boys.” But it wasn’t. It isn’t. And contrary to what you may believe, real boys don’t talk like this.
Real men don’t talk like this.
So please, if you are still here — if you are still reading my words and listening to my “overly sensitive” opinion — think before you type. Think before you speak, and if not for me (or for your mother, your sister, your daughter, your colleague, or your friend) than for yourself because hatred is ugly on you.
Because sexism isn’t sexy.