When I was seventeen and preparing to leave for university, my mother’s only brother saw fit to give me some advice.
“Just don’t be an idiot, kid,” he told me, “and don’t ever forget that boys and girls can never just be friends.”
I laughed and answered, “I’m not too worried. And I don’t really think all guys are like that.”
When I was eighteen and the third annual advent of the common cold was rolling through residence like a pestilent fog, a friend texted me asking if there was anything he could do to help.
I told him that if he could bring me up some vitamin water that would be great, if it wasn’t too much trouble.
That semester I learned that human skin cells replace themselves every three to five weeks. I hoped that in a month, maybe I’d stop feeling the echoes of his touch; maybe my new skin would feel cleaner.
It didn’t. But I stood by what I said. Not all guys are like that.
When I was nineteen and my roommate decided the only way to celebrate the end of midterms was to get wasted at a club, I humoured her.
Four drinks, countless leers and five hands up my skirt later, I informed her I was ready to leave.
“I get why you’re upset,” she told me on the walk home, “but you have to tolerate that sort of thing if you want to have any fun. And really, not all guys are like that.”
(Age nineteen also saw me propositioned for casual sex by no fewer than three different male friends, and while I still believe that guys and girls can indeed be just friends, I was beginning to see my uncle’s point.)
When I was twenty and a stranger that started chatting to me in my usual cafe asked if he could walk with me (since we were going the same way and all), I accepted.
Before we’d even made it three blocks he was pulling me into an alleyway and trying to put his hands up my shirt. “You were staring,” he laughed when I asked what the fuck he was doing (I wasn’t), “I’m just taking pity.”
But not all guys are like that.
I am twenty one and a few days ago a friend and I were walking down the street. A car drove by with the windows down, and a young man stuck his head out and whistled as they passed. I ignored it, carrying on with the conversation.
My friend did not. “Did you know those people?” He asked.
“Not at all,” I answered.
Later when we sat down to eat he got this thoughtful look on his face. When I asked what was wrong he said, “You know not all guys do that kind of thing, right? We’re not all like that.”
As if he were imparting some great profound truth I’d never realized before. My entire life has been turned around, because now I’ve been enlightened: not all guys are like that.
No. Not all guys are. But enough are. Enough that I am uncomfortable when a man sits next to me on the bus. Enough that I will cross to the other side of the street if I see a pack of guys coming my way. Enough that even fleeting eye contact with a male stranger makes my insides crawl with unease. Enough that I cannot feel safe alone in a room with some of my male friends, even ones I’ve known for years. Enough that when I go out past dark for chips or milk or toilet paper, I carry a knife, I wear a coat that obscures my figure, I mimic a man’s gait. Enough that three years later I keep the story of that day to myself, when the only thing that saved me from being raped was a right hook to the jaw and a threat to scream in a crowded dorm, because I know what the response will be.
I live my life with the everburning anxiety that someone is going to put their hands on me regardless of my feelings on the matter, and I’m not going to be able to stop them. I live with the knowledge that statistically one in three women have experienced a sexual assault, but even a number like that can’t be trusted when we are harassed into silence. I live with the learned instinct, the ingrained compulsion to keep my mouth shut to jeers and catcalls, to swallow my anger at lewd suggestions and crude gestures, to put up my walls against insults and threats. I live in an environment that necessitates armouring myself against it just to get through a day peacefully, and I now view that as normal. I have adapted to extreme circumstances and am told to treat it as baseline. I carry this fear close to my heart, rooted into my bones, and I do so to keep myself unharmed.
So you can tell me that not all guys are like that, and you’d even be right, but that isn’t the issue anymore. My problem is not that I’m unaware of the fact that some guys are perfectly civil, decent, kind—my problem is simply this:
In a world where this cynical overcaution is the only thing that ensures my safety, I’m no longer willing to take the risk.
The main problem I have with Men’s Rights Activists is that their name really doesn’t do them justice. They’re Straight Cis White Men’s Rights Activists. I have NEVER seen Men’s Rights Activists campaign for the inclusion of trans* men in their spaces.
I have NEVER seen Men’s Rights Activists campaign to end the social stigma around black fatherhood. I have NEVER seen Men’s Rights Activists campaign for better pay and equal career mobility for men of colour. I have NEVER seen Men’s Rights Activists actively campaign for more gay men’s rights. I have NEVER seen Men’s Rights Activists advise others in their group on how using f*ggot to emasculate men who aren’t part of their cause is alienating and marginalising other MEN.
I have NEVER seen Men’s Rights Activists campaign, raise awareness of, or support victims of male rape unless it’s in order to derail a discussion around female victims of rape. I have NEVER seen Men’s Rights Activists campaign, raise awareness of, or support male victims of domestic abuse unless it’s in order to derail a discussion around female victims of domestic abuse. Men’s Rights Activists are hypocrites and frauds.
They’re bitter privileged white men who don’t want to campaign for the rights of men — they want to campaign to keep their privilege unchecked and their ability to discriminate against others. If you want to be a real Men’s Rights Activist — be a fucking (intersectional) Feminist. Peace out.
“I’ve never met a man who was stronger than me. Physically yes, of course, my arms are tiny little noodles, but emotionally and mentally? No. Women aren’t built stronger, but we are made stronger, forced stronger. Unfortunately through societies unnecessary hardships and oppression of women. We deal with violence, harassment, belittlement, and having our humanity stripped of us, and then we have to learn how to handle all of that and do it gracefully and learn how to protect our dignity and strengthen who are without the help of any outside forces since their all against us. Men can’t handle that. They just can’t. The world is built for them, when they don’t get their way, when the world isn’t what they assumed it should be, they dissolve, they break down, they don’t understand it and refuse to adapt. Like angry babies.”—
“when she was 7, a boy pushed her on the playground
she fell headfirst into the dirt and came up with a mouthful of gravel and lines of blood chasing each other down her legs
when she told her teacher what happened, she laughed and said ‘boys will be boys honey don’t let it bother you
he probably just thinks you’re cute’
but the thing is,
when you tell a little girl who has rocks in her teeth and scabs on her knees that hurt and attention are the same
you teach her that boys show their affection through aggression
and she grows into a young woman who constantly mistakes the two
because no one ever taught her the difference
‘boys will be boys’
‘that’s how he shows his love’
and bruises start to feel like the imprint of lips
she goes to school with a busted mouth in high school and says she was hit with a basketball instead of his fist
the one adult she tells scolds her
‘you know he loses his temper easily
why the hell did you have to provoke him?’
so she shrinks
folds into herself, flinches every time a man raises his voice
by the time she’s 16 she’s learned her job well
be quiet, be soft, be easy
don’t give him a reason
but for all her efforts, he still finds one
‘boys will be boys’ rings in her head
‘boys will be boys
he doesn’t mean it
he can’t help it’
she’s 7 years old on the playground again
with a mouth full of rocks and blood that tastes like copper love
because boys will be boys baby don’t you know
that’s just how he shows he cares
she’s 18 now and they’re drunk
in the split second it takes for her words to enter his ears they’re ruined
like a glass heirloom being dropped between the hands of generations
she meant them to open his arms but they curl his fists and suddenly his hands are on her and her head hits the wall and all of the goddamn words in the world couldn’t save them in this moment
she touches the bruise the next day
boys will be boys
aggression, affection, violence, love
how does she separate them when she learned so early that they’re inextricably bound, tangled in a constant tug-of-war
she draws tally marks on her walls ratios of kisses to bruises
one entire side of her bedroom turns purple, one entire side of her body
boys will be boys will be boys will be boys
when she’s 20, a boy touches her hips and she jumps
he asks her who the hell taught her to be scared like that and she wants to laugh
doesn’t he know that boys will be boys?
it took her 13 years to unlearn that lesson from the playground
so I guess what I’m trying to say is
i will talk until my voice is hoarse so that my little sister understands that aggression and affection are two entirely separate things
baby they exist in difference universes
my niece can’t even speak yet but I think I’ll start with her now
don’t ever accept the excuse that boys will be boys
don’t ever let him put his hands on you like that
if you see hate blazing in his eyes don’t you ever confuse it with love
baby love won’t hurt when it comes
you won’t have to hide it under long sleeves during the summer
the only reason he should ever reach out his hand
is to hold yours”—
Fortesa Latifi - Boys Will Be Boys
(And Why That Is The Stupidest Thing You Could Ever Say To A Little Girl)
“Every year white people add 100 years to how long ago slavery was. I’ve heard educated white people say, ‘slavery was 400 years ago.’ No it very wasn’t. It was 140 years ago…that’s two 70-year-old ladies living and dying back to back. That’s how recently you could buy a guy.”—
“What many people do not know is that the use of standardized tests has its origins in the Eugenics movement, where basic tenets assert that certain races are inferior to others biologically and intellectually.”—
Karen Lewis, President of the Chicago Teachers Union
A MUST read by Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis. Standardized testing isn’t about improving education, it’s a way for the system to sort out which kids are meant to succeed and which are destined failure.
my mom asked why i don’t read as many books as i used to and i just said it was because i read a lot of unpublished stories from independent writers online and she thinks that’s very good of me to give undiscovered authors a chance
“Stop faking your fucking orgasms. Society already tells young men that they run the fucking universe - if they can’t turn your cunt into a shooting star then for god’s sake, let them know about it.”—Daisy Lola (via fullybalanced)
lupita nyong’o, like matthew mcconaughey, portrayed a real-life person who is no longer alive and was so self-aware and graceful to automatically recognize patsy’s struggles. mcconaughey called himself his hero and never even mentioned the victims of HIV/AIDS despite the fact that he would not have won an oscar if a man hadn’t died from AIDS. think about that.
but JLaw falling doesn’t strike me as ‘quirky’ or ‘adorable’ at all
it strikes me as careless and insolent and here’s why
performing femininity is sooooo imperative for WOC in order to garner respect and even sometimes your very life
i got the Talk from my mum about how to walk like a lady since i was 6
she herself performed femininity rigorously
because it’s one of the few ways Black and Brown women can grasp a smidgen, a tiny flicker, of (if not respect) at least tolerance
y’all think Lupita can afford to not care about how she comports herself? u think she can afford to make immature jokes about food and carry herself like a bull in a china shop? y’all think Gina Torres, Gabourey Sidibe, Salma Hayek, Lucy Liu could get away with that shit?
jlaw knows plenty well how to carry herself with etiquette and grace she just doesn’t care
'quirkiness' is all fun and games when you have the privilege to trip all over yourself and still be considered a desirable, accomplished woman.
meanwhile ima stay unimpressed until the day my Brown and Black girls can afford the same careless freedom that jlaw and her stans take for granted
y’know I always thought the way she carried herself related to white privilege but I could never put it into words
Two weeks ago a man in France was arrested for raping his daughter. She’d gone to her school counselor and then the police, but they needed “hard evidence.” So, she videotaped her next assault. Her father was eventually arrested. His attorney explained, “There was a period when he was unemployed and in the middle of a divorce. He insists that these acts did not stretch back further than three or four months. His daughter says longer. But everyone should be very careful in what they say.” Because, really, even despite her seeking help, her testimony, her bravery in setting up a webcam to film her father raping her, you really can’t believe what the girl says, can you?
Everyone “knows” this. Even children.
Three years ago, in fly-on-the-wall fashion of parent drivers everywhere, I listened while a 14-year-old girl in the back seat of my car described how angry she was that her parents had stopped allowing her to walk home alone just because a girl in her neighborhood “claimed she was raped.” When I asked her if there was any reason to think the girl’s story was not true, she said, “Girls lie about rape all the time.”
No one says, “You can’t trust women,” but distrust them we do. College students surveyed revealed that they think up to 50% of their female peers lie when they accuse someone of rape, despite wide-scale evidence and multi-country studies that show the incident of false rape reports to be in the 2%-8% range, pretty much the same as false claims for other crimes. As late as 2003, people jokingly (wink, wink) referred to Philadelphia’s sex crimes unit as “the lying bitch unit.” If an 11-year-old girl told an adult that her father took out a Craigslist ad to find someone to beat and rape her while he watched, as recently actually occurred, what do you think the response would be? Would she need to provide a videotape after the fact?
It goes way beyond sexual assault as well. That’s just the most likely and obvious demonstration of “women are born to lie” myths. Women’s credibility is questioned in the workplace, in courts, by law enforcement, indoctors’ offices, and in our political system. People don’t trust women to be bosses, or pilots, or employees. Pakistan’s controversial Hudood Ordinance still requires a female rape victim to procure four male witnesses to her rape or risk prosecution for adultery. In August, a survey of managers in the United States revealed that they overwhelmingly distrust women who request flextime. It’s notable, of course, that women are trusted to be mothers—the largest pool of undervalued, unpaid, economically crucial labor.
Pop culture and art are just the cherry on the top of the icing on a huge cake. The United States is among the most religious of all countries in the industrialized world. So, while some people wring their hands over hip hop, I’m more worried about how men like Rick Santorum and Ken Cuccinelli explain to their daughters why they can’t be priests. I know that there is hip hop that exceeds the bounds of taste and is sodden with misogyny. But, people seem to think that those manifestations of hatred are outside of the mainstream when, in reality, it’s just more of the same set to great beats. Hip hop has nothing on religious misogyny and its political expression.