Be the Fucking Change

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Recently, I went out with a group of lads. I tagged along with a guy I know and they were all very friendly, normal guys. One guy in particular was very aware that I was a female, or “a lady”, in a group of males so made the effort to be chivalrous and polite. It took about 3 more drinks for this guy to suddenly turn that awareness into latched on creepiness. In the 5 seconds that the guy I was with left my side, he jokingly put his arm around me and asked if I was into older guys. I laughed it off. Then he started making comments on my body. He persistently brought up my thighs and even congratulated the guy I was there with. I’m not sure what for, he didn’t sculpt my thighs from marble or something. I’m used to guys objectifying me, I’m used to being treated like someone’s property, and neither is a nice feeling.

 

Okay, the objectifying. This wasn’t just one comment, it was persistent. It went on for about half an hour, everyone felt quite uncomfortable but laughed along. If this was a guy I had no connection to, I would’ve barraged him with questions. Why did he feel like that was appropriate, worth mentioning or at all interesting or funny?! But this is a friend of a friend in a group of people I don’t know, but he works with every day. Maybe I should’ve been stronger, I have it in me to be that outspoken girl that pulls people up on their shit but I’m also aware that I’m a fighter and sometimes I need to pick my battles. In this situation, I was the odd one out and no one really knew me that well, so I chose to keep quiet. I do wonder though, if I hadn’t been there, if I had been a girl in the distance, how many of those other guys would join in? Did they laugh along and not know what to say because usually, they would be making those comments too? It makes me uncomfortable knowing that the people I socialise with aren’t the upstanding men that they appear to be when they have women around. It’s horrible enough when you’re subjected to that from strangers, but when you realise that these strangers are friends with people just like you, it’s a new low. It’s like no one is safe. It makes me loose faith in the male species just a little more.

 

Objectifying is one thing, but being treated like property is a whole other problem. In this situation, the creep in question gave the guy I was with a cheers because I have nice legs, like I’m only there to be a trophy on his arm. In the past it’s been trying to get a guy on a night out to leave me alone, being ignored, so using a fake boyfriend as an excuse and immediately getting the response I wanted. I’ve had random guys pretend to be my boyfriend so that the creeps leave. I’ve had waiters only address the man I’m with in restaurants. I’ve had men wait for another man to introduce me, rather than just speak to me of their own accord. It makes my blood boil. I am my own person, I am independent and I am not just a daughter/sister/girlfriend.

 

I’m sure I’m not alone in experiencing this. At the end of the day I am a strong woman. I make my presence known and I don’t have to flirt or use my body to do it. I stand up for what I believe in, hopefully in situations where people are ready to hear me. Unfortunately, in a lot of situations that’s not the case. This particular instance, the guy was pretty drunk. It’s not an excuse, and if something happened to a woman when she was drunk she would twist from the victim to “asking for it”, but I feel like people excused his behaviour because he’d had a drink. However, it’s relevant because there’s no way he would have been receptive of any kind of rational argument I had to offer. I wonder though, if a man had stood up to him if he would’ve listened. A theory I’m yet to prove because I’ve never actually seen a guy stand up to a douche like this. The day I do I swear I’ll throw a fucking parade. I have plenty of men in my life that talk a big game. Say they are feminists, say they respect women and hate to see us put down, but where’s the actions to back it up?! It should be expected, it should be the norm, if you’re not part of the solution then you’re part of the problem. Maybe they are scared or don’t like the confrontation but I’m sick of being the one that has to deal with it. I’m not asking for any man to fight my battles, merely stand by my side when I do instead of laugh along and join in when my back is turned. Real change won’t happen until men decide it’s a valid cause. It will happen in locker rooms and pubs when the girls are away and someone decides to say, “you know what, it’s not okay to talk about women like this, regardless if they’re around to be offended by it or not”. More and more my faith that this is even possible is shaken. I have a lot of male friends and it makes me want to distance myself, because this is important to me, as it should be to everyone.

I don’t even know what to say.

Just be better.

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