I took the holiday weekend off from Twitter and the news. I needed a break. Consequently, I missed the entire #YesAllWomen thing go down. I’m just now reading about it and it’s making me emotional. Because even though fear of men is a reality for most women, we don’t talk about it. I don’t talk about it out of respect for my amazing husband and my kind father and my sweet guy friends. I’ve never wanted to make them sad by saying the truth but the truth is that any male at any time in any circumstance can feel like a threat to me. Because of my life experiences with the opposite sex. Because of the comedy club patrons who lifted my skirt while I was serving drinks or the dude at the club who put his hand down my pants and told me he was gonna “fuck me good and there was nothing anyone could do about it,” because of the guy who stalked me in college, because of the man who licked my leg while I was waiting in line for a burger in Studio City, because of the guy who picked me up and threw me like I was nothing in the parking lot of the Palladium, because of other things that have happened to me that are way too disturbing to put in a blog.
Any male can make me nervous. It’s a dumb state of being but it’s something I live with. It’s something I talk myself down from daily. It happens out of nowhere, usually. Once, my rather large elderly neighbor cornered me in an elevator to talk to me about his religion. I went from being annoyed to being terrified. His arms blocked the exit and he leaned in to make his point. I knew on some level that he wasn’t going to hurt me but my instinct kicked in and I started sweating and shaking and trying to figure out what I’d do if he got physical. Yes, I’m aware this is a crazy reaction. Every time I leave the house to go for a walk by myself, I’m hyper-aware. If a guy or group of guys is coming toward me on the street, I have an escape plan figured out just in case. The guys could be (and probably are) the sweetest dudes in the world but I’m living in a reality where guys will roofie you at a keg party and the boy next door might try to rape you in his mom’s van after a night of playing beer pong.
I think a lot of women walk around carrying all of that and assuming they’re the anomaly, that they’re the only ones who have that fear to contend with. But, reading all of the hashtags made me realize it’s something we all have in common. Which is terrifying.
If I were a male reading those hashtags, I would’ve felt under attack. None of the men in my life deserve to feel that they’re in the wrong. They’re fair and kind to women so they shouldn’t be lumped in with assholes. But, just like in any social movement, sometimes the extreme is required to make an impression. To make the tiniest of dents.
So, do I need to add my voice to the chorus after the choir has already packed up and gone home? No, probably not. But, I want to because not doing so makes me feel icky, like I’m deserting my team before the big playoffs. The shooter in the Isla Vista shooting clearly hated women in a way that unfortunately is not uncommon. So here’s my contribution to the good fight.
Because I’m tired of being scared and I’m finally realizing I have the right to exist without fear. #YesAllWomen