November 22, 2016

The Truth About What It’s Like To Be In A Woman’s Body

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Unsplash, Cristian Newman
Unsplash, Cristian Newman

On November 9, I went on my first Tinder date. A few days prior we started messaging, and like the rest of America, our main topic of conversation was the election. We discussed our anxieties about Trump and our hopes for Hillary.

We were both in deep. I was out knocking on doors canvassing for an LGBT advocacy group, and he was going back home to vote and attend a Buddhist election meditation. Beyond our politics, we shared experiences in theater, were both new to the city, and had an easy rapport. I was excited to meet him.

On that Wednesday, we had plans to get a drink. I asked my roommate, “Is it wrong to go on a date tonight? Shouldn’t I be in mourning?” She and I decided that Trump or no Trump, life and its accompanying Tinder dates would have to go on.

Mr. Tinder walked up to me in front of the bar as I was locking up my bike. I reached out to shake his hand, and he went in to hug me. We went into the bar, bought drinks, and began to chat.

We talked about how much we loathe Trump, our hometowns, what music we were into (his answer: only Mozart), mourned for Hillary, discussed theater, Palestine, our friends, and then more about the election. There wasn’t even much to say about it, because we were in complete and total agreement – Donald Trump really sucks.

We finished our drinks and decided to try a different bar, and while we were walking he put his hand on my arm. When we were waiting for cash to come out of the ATM he pushed himself into me. Sitting across from each other in a booth at the next bar, he grabbed my foot under the table and held it. “Haha, what are you doing with my foot?” I asked, not really laughing.

Later on he put his hands on mine and started to massage my fingers. “Dude,” I said smiling, “We just met. Don’t touch my hands.” One drink later, his hands were rubbing mine again as I argued with him about Palestine. “I don’t want anyone to suffer”, he tells me, “but Hamas are terrorists. Palestine deserves what they’re getting.”

One more drink, we’re making out and he’s touching every part of me, and I’m too drunk to do anything except excuse myself to throw up in the bathroom and get a cab home. The next morning, I delete Tinder off my phone and block his number.

When a tape was leaked of President-elect Donald Trump saying, “I just start kissing them… I don’t even wait… Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything,” and then defended it as “locker room banter,” America freaked out.

The Internet exploded with condemnations of his speech, with professional athletes asking, “What locker room does he hang out in, because it’s not ours.” We were shocked and offended by Trump’s outrageous statements.

Yet here I am, in a bar on November 9th, with a man who voted for Hillary Clinton, was just as shocked and offended by Trump, and who is putting his hands on me without asking, kissing me, who doesn’t wait, who thinks he can do anything. We are in a passionate disagreement about Israel and Palestine, and he is simultaneously shutting me down and grabbing my thighs.

I feel and am certain that this man does not take anything about me seriously, except for the fact that my body is across from his and that if I get drunk enough, I might go home with him.

What happened on my Tinder date is not an anomaly. Mr. Tinder was not the first liberal to touch me without asking, to touch me when I explicitly told him not to. This man, who felt so self-righteous and radical because he cast his vote for a woman, was doing exactly what Trump bragged about in that tape. He was doing whatever he wanted.

In an open letter to Donald Trump on Vox.com, Chris Kluwe, a former NFL player, said: “I was in an NFL locker room for eight years… Oh, sure, we had some dumb guys, and some guys I wouldn’t want to hang out with on any sort of regular basis, but we never had anyone say anything as foul and demeaning as you did on that tape, and, hell, I played a couple years with a guy who later turned out to be a serial rapist. Even he never talked like that.”

When Trump’s comments surfaced, we had the wrong conversation. It seems clear that what the media and liberals are angry about is not that there was a serial rapist in Chris Kluwe’s locker room; it’s the use of the word pussy and that Trump “talks like that.”

The real problem: Men think they can do anything.

My father – who constantly tells me he loves me, asks if I am happy, asks if the men I am dating are treating me right – rolls his eyes when I use the word “patriarchy.” I don’t believe that Mr. Tinder or my father or any of the men I met in college who refused to identify as feminist because it is too “radical” are men who want to hurt women. They just don’t know what it’s like to be in a woman’s body.

Let me tell you.

To be in a woman’s body is to not have a body, because everyone else claims it to look at, to touch, to enter.

To be in a woman’s body is to be called over by an old man at the very fancy restaurant you work at – “let me look at you” – given an up and down, and told “not too bad.” To be in a woman’s body is to go to bed with your lover and tell him “I’m too drunk” and wake up in the morning with faint memories of him inside of you.

To be in a woman’s body is to have your hips that are so powerful they could carry a life as the resting place for the hands of any guy at a college party who thinks he is entitled to your attention. To be in a woman’s body is to know the inside of the toilet bowl from all of the hours you spent shoving your fingers in the back of your throat to release the weight in your belly and the weight in your soul.

To be in a woman’s body is to watch your best friend grow so small that you can barely see her and then ask you, “Do you think I’m fat?” To be in a woman’s body is to walk down the street every single day and have people scream at you and honk at you so that you cannot simply walk down the street and think your own private thoughts because you are being constantly reminded that you have a body and that people want it for themselves.

To be in a woman’s body is to fill the pages of your diary with the words over and over again, “What’s wrong with me?” To be in a woman’s body is to sit across a table from a progressive liberal who voted for Bernie, and then for Hillary and who puts his hands on you after you say, “don’t.”

This is my experience. It is not that bad. Women of color, transwomen, queer women, immigrant women, disabled women, victims and survivors of rape and domestic violence have it much worse. But I can tell you that it hasn’t been great.

I am not glad that Donald Trump is going to be our president. But if Hillary Clinton won, maybe my mother would keep telling me that she’s not a feminist, because men and women are already equal. If Hillary Clinton won, maybe I would keep quietly throwing up whenever I ate too many onion rings. If Hillary Clinton won, maybe I would be going on my second date with “I only listen to Mozart” from Tinder.

There is nothing wrong with you or me. There is nothing wrong with being depressed and anxious and sick because you cannot exist without feeling like your body and your words are not your own.

What is wrong is people telling you that you are making it up, that you are already equal, even when everything in your experience teaches you that people take one look at your chest and decide that there is some opposite correlation between bra size and brain size and that the words that come out of your mouth are a feminine suggestion.

In high school, I asked my first love and my boyfriend if he thought I was smart. His response was, “I’ve never been in a situation where you’ve had to prove that, so I don’t know”.

Do I have to solve multivariable calculus problems in front of men to prove that I am intelligent enough for them to respect me and take their hands off me?

The glass ceiling is not shattered. Women are not equal to men. Women’s rights to abortion, birth control, hormones, and healthcare are seriously at risk. And the soon-to-be president, with his promise to “Make America Great Again” is telling us that men can do anything.

Chris Kluwe, Donald Trump, my first and last tinder date – I don’t care what you are talking about in the locker room or who you voted for or how liberal and progressive and smart you are.

Do not touch me. TC mark

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