So about a week ago, a young man was angry enough that he hadn’t ever had a girlfriend that he decided to shoot a lot of other people.
There are a lot of ways to unpack this incident, and a lot of other bloggers have been doing so. I could go after the gun control issue; question how it was that we keep coming to this point over and over again, how someone who is so horrifically troubled can get a gun, and question why it is so important that he be able to. I could go after the misogyny in his “manifesto” – how it feels to be one of that class of people he believed should be rounded up into a concentration camp and kept alive solely for sex and breeding purposes. I could go after the way the media is falling all over itself to find more and more commentary on this incident – soliciting the opinions of people whose opinions we really didn’t need, reporting on sideline skirmishes like Seth Rogen denouncing a blogger for implying his movies contributed to the misogyny Rogers suffered from, or Joe The Plumber using this incident to tout Second Amendment Rights in an open letter.
But the truth is that I am simply too tired to make any statement.
I have opinions, alright. I grew up in the 1970’s, and cut my teeth on Free To Be You And Me and have been calling myself a feminist ever since. I have always valued my mind and placed a huge importance on my ability to speak for it; my brain and my thoughts are as good and deserve as much respect and as much value as they’d receive if I’d been born with a penis. I am much, much more than my ability to bear children, and I have consistently been standing up and shouting that.
But that’s just it – I have been saying it so long, and so often, and so repeatedly, that it has worn me out.
I have spoken up for myself, testified for myself, shouted for myself, screamed for myself, and fought for myself again and again, since I was old enough to see the need to do so. And yet again and again, the world keeps offering up people to disagree with me. For every street harrasser I’ve talked back to, there are ten more the next day. For every argument I’ve had online about how yes women do too experience this kind of misogyny on a regular basis, the next day I see yet another person who dismisses a complaint about sexism as a woman “being on the rag” or some such. For every time I’ve told a guy that his just being “nice” does not automatically mean I’m going to fall to his feet in gratitude, I run into yet another guy who thinks he is so entitled to my attention that when he doesn’t receive it, he will chase me out of a bar and down the street. For every time I point to a behavior that some men do which is infuriating, I get a bunch of guys brushing me off because “not all men do that”.
For every time I’ve stood up for myself, there are more and more men daring to question either why I feel like I need to be treated “specially”, whether I “really” saw what I saw, or why I can’t take pity on a man who’s “socially awkward”. My right to even just declare i have rights is apparently trumped by their right to feel comfortable in the world.
And I don’t even have the energy to be angry any more. I’m profoundly grateful for the men I know who don’t do this, my friends who accept me as a person who happens to be female rather than treating me like I’m “a woman” as if it were a different species. But they are just much too rare, and I have gotten too worn down by naysayers, to have hope that these men will be anything other than the exceptions to a societal rule.
There’s no point in continuing to speak up for myself if the world isn’t going to bother listening.