The Three Hundred Pound Gorilla in the room is an attitude. It is the belief that we are able to treat half the humans on the planet as less than the other half. Specifically, the idea that women are not worth as much as men.
We tell women, over and over, that they are objects, “Sex sells”. We call them “my woman” or “baby mama”. We pretend to be “enlightened”. Yet, we hide from the things that are true. Rape is the most under-reported crime in the country. Physical and emotional abuse is ignored, hidden, or denied. We attack the victim and defend the men by saying “boys will be boys”. We blame her by saying “you shouldn’t have provoked him” or “you shouldn’t have dressed that way”. Every one of these is wrong.
I have been that. Not the violence or emotional abuse but, the rest. I have been around people I knew were in abusive relationships and done nothing, ignored it. I have stood, beer in hand, while the conversation was “she just needs a good f**k” or “that Dyke needs a f**k to show her what she’s missing” and said nothing. I’ve blamed the victim when I watched it on the news “couldn’t she have just enjoyed it?” “Hell, she had it coming for dressing that way, there.” I was wrong. I was part of the problem.
I was not raised that way. In my parents house, that would not have been tolerated. There was never any abuse, physical or emotional. When I left that home and moved out on my own, it was easier to be “one of the boys” and act like the rest. After a while, those attitudes became my own. Getting along was more important than doing what was right. Luckily for me, I grew up. The more I saw what was happening to me, the more I realized how far from who I was I was becoming, the more I realized I could not go on with those thoughts. Even while I was actively an addict I realized that the casual misogynist that I was becoming was not me…and I stopped him.
Every day, every woman I know faces these. Every woman that goes out in public is judged by some man. Her clothes, her voice, her body are looked at as if she’s a display in a window. They are NOT given the same room that men are. If she’s having a bad day, she’s a b**ch. If she dresses up, it’s to impress a man. If she happens to wear what’s comfortable, that too is judged. If it’s 105 outside and she dresses for the heat, she’s showing too much…not considering a man can go without a shirt and not be commented on. If she breast feeds her child in public, someone will be offended. If she has an opinion, she’s “bossy”. If a man carries too much weight, it’s “man, you look like you could drop a few pounds” and a joke is made, a woman is “that fat cow”…Even while I’m writing this, an article shows up with the title “Study Proves That Men Really Do Prefer Curves…”…
It surprises me that my closest friends are women. Given what happens every day. Given the prevalence of ignored abuse. Given the “blame the victim and ignore the abuse” mentality. It’s a wonder that ANY woman trusts ANY man. Period.
It keeps rolling around in my mind. I keep trying to see “why?” Why do we tell women that they are not worth as much as men? Why do we tell them to accept abuse? Why do we teach men that women are possessions? Why do we not believe the victims of physical or emotional rape? Why do we treat half of our population, 169 million roughly in the USA, as if their lives had less value? “She’s JUST a girl…”
It’s not about being a “feminist”. It’s about no longer remaining silent. The only way that things change is for individuals to decide they need to change. It is that we, male humans, need to change our actions. It means we have to look inside ourselves and see the wrongs we’ve inflicted by our own actions or lack. It is letting women know that they are our equals and not a possession, toy, pet, or punching bag. It means that we accept culpability for blaming the victim so that we don’t have to face our own weaknesses. It is being responsible for what we say and do.
We need to grow up. We need to stop being silent.