This post Asiangelino wrote this morning really tapped into something I've been feeling a lot lately: the danger of being a female in the world. Now, I will qualify this post by stating that I watch an embarrassing amount of L&O SVU and other crime dramas/crime documentaries so some of my fear may come from a fictional world where people are constantly being raped and murdered. But then again, people are constantly being raped and murdered, so...
Anyway, whether it is paranoia or a healthy dose of overly-cautious, I have been feeling increasingly unsafe over the last few years. Perhaps it started several years ago, after I almost had to get a restraining order on this guy. Or maybe it started during one of the two times I was sexually assaulted while sleeping in places I thought I was safe. Or maybe it's something that has always been there, but I have continued to shrug off. However, lately it's definitely been compounded while reading about service-men rapist/murderers and stalker, or even rapist, cab drivers. My takeaway is always a feeling of having been naive, and a newfound resolution to be increasingly cautious and suspicious. So I am cautious and I am suspicious, of every strange man who comes to our door, of guys who walk behind us on the street, of cab drivers, of service men, of guys who are too quick to flirt with me or my friends, and of gifts and favors from men who are not close friends. It's not like I spend my days curled up in the fetal position, refusing to interact with people—but my day is often peppered with moments of bristling, skepticism, and fear. Foxylocksley thinks I'm being paranoid, but Foxylocksley is a man, who never has had to deal with unprovoked touching, with men who are angry at rejection, with being catcalled and stalked by guys in cars, and with feeling overwhelmingly vulnerable just because I am small and, more importantly, because I have a vagina.
But it's not just about being scared of the world. Along with that growing sense of fear, and vulnerability is a growing sense of being, well, fucking pissed. I am pissed that I can't trust the general public to not touch, harass, rape, and murder my body. I am pissed that I will never feel safe taking an extended road trip, or backpacking through Europe alone. I am pissed that my guard always has to be up if I get a drink alone, or while walking by myself.
But, here's the thing: this fear, and this anger are, for me, symptomatic of something great—my own ownership of feminism. Now, I don't mean that angry=feminist. I mean that I am angry and I am fearful because I am aware of the vast inequalities, of rape culture, of Nice Guy syndrome, of mansplaining, of slut shaming, of the many ways in which I am objectified, silenced, and oppressed every day. The years of reading Jez, and months of reading/commenting on GT have given me a safe space to both observe and participate in feminist discussions, and, subsequently, a substantial (but far from comprehensive) background and a voice with which to find my own space in feminism.
So thanks guys. Keep up the amazing, thoughtful, world-changing work. Even when I'm not commenting I am here reading, and absorbing, and learning, and allowing all of your perspectives to shape and augment my world view. This is especially true of the outstanding articles this week by Ninjacate, Korra and others (there were just so many amazing posts/comments about Miley/VMAs). I am a much better feminist than I was a week ago, a month ago, a year ago, and I know I will continue to be a better feminist every day, thanks to you all.
ETA: Sorry about weird hyperlink stuff. The internet is hard.