Day 354 – #(Yes/Not) All (Women/Men)

12 – The Top 100 Things That Attract Women To Men

The link above is intentionally broken.
It’s not for following; it’s merely the last-100-days pretext for the following.

Also: trigger warning – violence against women is discussed.

I have been putting off this post for fear of writing it wrong. The #yesallwomen twitter-tag has a deep and traumatizing context, and I wasn’t sure I could make my thoughts make enough sense to write something worth saying.

I am gratified to see that #yesallwomen didn’t dissipate despite the trolls, the naysayers and the uninformed. I hope it somehow manages to morph into a periodical campaign to simply remind everyone (=men) of the daily injustices most women continuously experience; the plainly stated facts have had the strongest impact on me.

The most startling examples aren’t the most callous; it’s the simple low-grade everyday fears, precautions and admonishments that hit home for me.

Although I recommend just reading the hash-tag directly on twitter for the more focused and horrific examples if you still have the appetite. You’ll have to ignore the trolls trying to subvert the tag, and the rare attempt at stretching it to cover a trivial injustice.

Prepare to feel helpless though.
And then prepare to resist writing a “#notallmen“.

I know it is hard, because I had an urge to write one too. I was frustrated and feeling helpless in the face of what I was reading. I wanted to give voice to that frustration. But I wasn’t part of the story, so I resisted.

I wasn’t sure how to reconcile the dissonance between how I felt about what I was reading and who I am. While researching today, I came across a very helpful post that put this dissonance in a perspective that made a lot of sense to me.

“Notallmen/Yesallwomen, secondary trauma …” by Sarah O, explains how the experience of reading this particular hash-tag might be akin to how social workers are affected by the stories they listen to for a living. I cannot do the whole piece justice in a paragraph; go read it, she even has actionable advice at the end of it.

It is essentially an application of the Ring Theory for giving comfort to people in a crisis. Go read that as well if you are unfamiliar with the term.

Many men waded in with rebuttals and complaints though. “It wasn’t me”. “You make me feel bad”. “Men are being discriminated against”. I’m not even kidding. They seem oblivious to how it looks…

And the statistics are alarming.
(sorry, US statistics because they were plentiful around this hash-tag)


By the very nature of such surveys women tend to under-report, so the problem is probably larger than this picture suggests. But even if it isn’t, the numbers are shocking enough already. Imagine rolling a 6-sided die right now, and if it comes up “6” somebody will touch you sexually without your consent in the street at some point. If you’re lucky it’ll come up a “3”, “4” or a “5” and you’ll merely get physically or verbally harassed. Click through on the images to get a range of additional statistics.

And in high school there are even more depressing statistics.

All the results should obviously be “0%”.

Boys apparently think that if they pay for drinks (39%) or they get sexually aroused (51%) the object of their desires owes them sex, and they are justified in taking it. Startlingly girls do not completely disagree if the guy pays for drinks (12%) and even less so when the guy gets aroused (42%). Someone needs to explain consent. Properly.

How do we fix all this?

Slowly and patiently is all I can come up with.

When the Jeremy Meeks mugshot got into the news, it didn’t take long for it to get tangled up in #yesallwomen. From female-named twitter accounts exclaiming they’d “pay for him to rape me” (illustrating a fundamental misunderstanding of what the word “rape” means), to an uproar generally over the female lust the mugshot engendered.

It is possible for there to simultaneously be: a problem around treatment of women by men, women harmlessly lusting over an attractive man, some of those women saying stupid and ill-informed things, and for there to be a problem with the glorification of a criminal. All separate but concurrent.

The real world is complex and intertwined like that. Any issue big enough to need a movement is going to encounter attitudes tangled in complex Gordian knots that aren’t going to be resolved easily. People conflate. People use strawmen. People derail.

All the simple problems are already solved.

Educating half a population is a slow battle.
But the battle is worth fighting.
And it can be won.

One small step at a time.
There already is a rallying cry.


Addendum

Sadly in a cruel slap in the face, the logical domain for this movement has been taken by an organisation that helps track down people that do not want to be found. I expected to find it taken, just not by entirely the wrong company.

Other posts floating around this topic that are well worth reading:

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