Men Will Never Truly Understand A Day In The Life of Women. But Shouldn’t We Try?
The other day, my friend Dina was talking about her experiences of being catcalled—street harassment is a more accurate term—while walking around the streets of New York.
This wasn’t the first time I’ve heard about the epidemic of street harassment. Many of my women friends have remarked about experiencing and dealing with this kind of harassment and how unsafe it makes them feel.
For Dina, one particular instance of harassment on the streets of New York was cemented in her memory. She was walking alone, during the day, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, when she heard a man taunt her, “Hey baby, you’re lookin’ good…”
“Don’t call me baby,” she responded.
He looked her up and down and said, “…fucking dyke.”
For the record, Dina is straight—not that it would have been okay if she weren’t.
This wasn’t the first, nor will it be the last time Dina faces street harassment. She has been harassed in public places, and on a number of occasions, followed by men. Many studies indicate that almost 100 percent of women will face some sort of street harassment at one point
in their lives.
Most men don’t even realize street harassment exists as a very real, serious problem. Yet, many women see this kind of harassment as part of daily life. For the few men who are aware of it, they assume the extent of street harassment is something akin to harmless, or at worst,
annoying flirting, which still problematic if that attention is unwelcome.
The reality of street harassment is far worse than what most men think or believe. In cities large and small, women have to contend with comments that range from the mildly offensive to the disgusting. Beyond being verbally harassed, many women are followed and some women are even forced to deal with the same harasser on a daily basis. And for some women, this“harmless” harassment leads to assault.
But I realized, as Dina was telling me her story, that I have never actually been witness to the kind of street harassment my women friends tell me about. If a woman is walking down the street with me, other men generally won’t engage in any kind of harassing behavior towards
her because street harassment, like all forms of harassment, is about attacking the vulnerable.
And despite what some readers of this column may think about my gender, I will never know what it feels like for a woman to walk down the street alone. How am I to fully relate to the pain, fear, and humiliation of street harassment when I have never witnessed its full form and lack the the personal experience of being harassed on the street?
Street harassment is simply one issue that plagues women in their everyday life. They are constantly barraged with discriminatory obstacles that we don’t even see as obstacles.
My passion and main concern with respect to combating sexism has been about revealing hidden forms of sexism; my fight lies in overturning the idea that women and girls are subject to
a certain biological destiny, and revealing what we think to be biological destiny as actually the problematic ways in which we condition girls and women in our society.
How do you feel about the anti-pornography movement?
I think that it’s silly. Yes, there is bad porn out there and yes there is porn that people are forced into against their will. Obviously that’s the kind of porn that should be…
My major issue with anti-porn movement, particularly the anti-porn feminist movement is the idea that women don’t enjoy porn. I’ve seen a few anti-porn feminists speak about their ideas, the main tenant of which seems to be that pornography is inherently demeaning to women and that it encourages men to rape, and they always ignore the fact that women watch porn, queer people watch porn. Hell, some of them even seem to enjoy it!
My other issue is the amount of vanilla privilege which so often comes out in anti-porn discussions. I recall seeing one anti-porn activist speaking about the lack of or hazy nature of consent in hard core pornography and her focus seemed to be on a film where the male actor holding down the hands of the female actor, she also spoke about the “demeaning” nature of spanking and other more hard-core bdsm practices. I remember another paper I read which talked about S&M and referred to submissives only as “victims” of their dominants, not as people with sexual agency, not even as people really.
Now, I am a massive supporter of this whole consent thing, there is no-one more anti-rape and pro-consent than me. But I am also a submissive. I like being held down by the wrists. I’ve never personally engaged in rape play but I have enjoyed erotica which depicted it. The thing about porn and bdsm play is that it is massivly tied up in this little thing called ~*~*fantasy~*~*, as in it’s not reality. As in most people can tell the difference.
When people who I think are allies stand up and start telling me that things I enjoy sexually are “demeaning” and that I’m in engaged in “deviant sexual practices” it’s shaming and it hurts.
^All of this!
They account for 1 in every 2,000 births - that’s about 34,000 births per dayglobally. You probably know them as hermaphrodites. What you probably don’t know is…well, pretty much anything to do with them. To start, “hermaphrodite” is not an acceptable modern term, and is largely considered offensive. I will only mention in passing terms that every person knows are offensive - shemale, he-she, “it” - to point out that I will not tolerate those terms if you want to address this post, regardless of who you are in my life. The most widespread term is intersex, though I have heard that some groups do find this to be distasteful as well. I will be using this term the most, but will gladly take corrections. Second, intersex genitalia and identities are completely varied - it would be a daunting task to try and categorize and list all the different physical forms that they take. And, as you will glean from the spirit of this post, it shouldn’t really be necessary - it’s none of your business unless that individual wants to make it your business. Third - and perhaps most importantly - there is nothing wrong with intersex people. They are not deformed or misshapen.
Intersex has always existed. Every ancient culture has legends, references, and stories about them. In many cultures, they were revered - a big difference from our “modern” world where they are shamed, mutilated, and hidden from mainstream society. They are seen in art and mythology from almost every time period. However, in the 1950’s, a psychologist from Johns Hopkins came up with a theory: that these people had something wrong with them that could, should, and had to be cured through the forced integration, both via surgery and environment, into a “proper” gender - that is to say, male or female. The theory went something along the lines of “we’ll just change this infant into whatever we think they should be, based on which gender it is easiest to assign through surgery, then never tell this individual what happened, maybe move to a new town, and raise that intersex person to be the gender we guessed was correct for them. But, as charming as that idea sounded… it didn’t work. What happened instead was essentially a giant calamity, a series of extremely scarring and often debilitating practices, a generation of gender shame, and then… and then they were forgotten by society. To putting the icing on the cake, after this pile of complete and utter failure on a humanitarian and social front, we decided to keep on doing it anyway, right up until the present.
Why? Why do we feel the need to do this? As there is with every common genital mutilation practice, the culprits are familiar to us: parental fear, societal pressure, and misleading, incorrect, and biased medical practices. I mean, think about it for a moment - other than life threatening situations, what would ever make it okay in anyone’s mind to take a knife (or often a series of knives over decade long periods) to someone’s genitals? Penis, vagina, both, neither - why would you ever take a knife to such a private, sensitive area? And more importantly, who would ever consent to such a thing? The answer is, generously speaking - almost no one. But consent isn’t an issue here. Consent is taken completely out of the picture. Rather than let that individual grow, develop, learn, and make such choices as they see fit as a consenting, informed adult, we just willy nilly cut up babies’ privates because it seems like a good idea at the time. Are you noticing here that a key word is consent?
Parents are afraid. More often than not, they are afraid on behalf of their child - this little being they have brought forth into the world, who they have loved for nine months before they ever say it’s face. Then a doctor comes in and tell you there’s something wrong with your baby. But don’t worry, a few snips and your child will have a normal life. And, you best be sure, it’s life will not be normal unless it’s genitals look like everyone else’s. So the doctor whisks the baby away, assuming that this practice, which he has been taught all his years in medicine, is in fact the right one. We can’t even consider differently. After all, there are only two genders - boys and girls, blue and pink, penis and vagina. Unfortunately, it is often the case that the doctor guesses wrong - actually, this is pretty much the constant. So in two or three years, a new doctor goes, “Oops, my bad, we’ll fix that right up.” Maggie becomes Jim, the surgeries continue, and still, no one speaks up. Then comes puberty. Jim realizes that he doesn’t feel like a Jim, he feels like a Maggie - or maybe not a Maggie at all, maybe a gender neutral, asexual Morgan, or Alex, or Chris. But now, even though “Jim” is starting to decide for “himself” who “he” is, it’s too late - “his” parents, doctors, and society have already done largely irreparable damage to something that should have just been left alone in the first place. All because something didn’t “look right.”
Now this person may need more surgeries - not to make things right; that’s often impossible - but to repair damaged tissues, to repair things that the doctor broke. Now this person is unable to be comfortably sexually intimate - either because their nerves that would have given them pleasure have been too damaged or removed, or because they are simply too ashamed of what’s going on downstairs. This person is often psychologically damaged, has identity problems, feels of shame, guilt, segregation, and isolation from every other person in the world. Because it is not socially acceptable to talk about intersex, let alone be intersex, this person is sure there is no one else like them. Many don’t survive these struggles. These are the silent suicides. For those who survive these struggles, life is still harder than it should be. They must either hide who and what they are, or be persecuted and mocked while living an open, honest life.
Those who were not damaged at birth - those who’s parents and/or doctors decided it was better to leave nature alone - are not miserable. They generally have successful, content lives. Those who are not naturally asexual often have completely healthy sex lives. They take a gender assignment that works for them - male, female, both, neither. Many get married. Many have children. Of course, this cannot be said for all people - life isn’t easy, and even less so for those who are “different.” Some require hormone treatments - for their health. For the health of their body, not for a societal standard. Not for a gender binary. But it is important to point out that these people - no people - should be or are definable based on what is between their legs, and it is no one else’s right to tamper with something as important as their sexual and gender identity.
So what can you do? Where should you stand? If you aren’t sure, play it safe - let each individual decide for themselves as a consenting adult, and not a moment sooner, nor by any other person’s views or logic. Educate yourself and others. Do not support the genital mutilation of perfectly healthy - if slightly less average - infants.
I realize I don’t address intersex genital mutilation on this blog very much. If anyone would like to share anything with me regarding it, please go ahead!
Haha, it was gonna happen sooner or later. I see so many blogs on abortion, that I felt the need to contribute my two cents. Feel free to pick apart as you please.
So lets get the first thing over with; yes I am pro-choice.
A lot of people associate this word with so many negative connotations though. Just because I am pro-choice does not mean I am pro-killing babies, or heck, ‘pro-abortion’. I believe everyone should have the freedom to choose what they believe is best for themselves. Because, at the end of the day, nobody knows YOU better than YOU. That protester outside the clinic? Do they know you, or understand what you’ve been through? No way.
I believe that everyone should be allowed to choose what is right for themselves, and their bodies.
Now, for my reasoning…
So many people apply human traits to foetuses. They personify them. If you disagree with what I am saying, I must ask the question - what makes us human?
We are self-aware.
We feel pain, and emotions.
We have memories.
We have a consciousness
A foetus has none of these things. In fact, in the early stages, a foetus is merely a collection of cells. I am not trying to simplify pregnancy, or childbirth, however, you cannot call it something that it has not developed into yet.
I believe it goes against the greater needs of society to force a woman to go through a pregnancy that she feels she cannot carry to term. A woman must endure huge risks and pain, all before she is even ready to give birth. It is not your place to interfere with another’s body. It is not your place to tell someone what to do. These are the values I was brought up with, and I stand by them.
My stance could be described as “Live and let live”. You make your choices for your own life, by your own morals. Let me choose mine.
Oh, and one more thing.
I don’t understand how pro-lifers contradict themselves so much. For example:
”Abortion is bad”
- Okay, I get that you don’t support abortion. Fine, moving along….
”Even though contraception is a safe and very useful way of decreasing abortion, we don’t support that either!”
- Wait, what? Um…. are you serious? Well. As much as I disagree with that, fine, that’s your decision. But contraception is readily available anyway, so nyer.
”Oh, and also, if you don’t want a baby, don’t have sex.”
- Um, bitch, please. Sex is a basic human instinct. Don’t tell me what to do. And besides, you cannot possibly have everything you want. Not everyone wants to live in your perfect, frigid and chaste little society.
Nuff said. GTFO.
inb4 feminist shitstorm
This is just one of the reasons why I fucking hate tumblr.
This is a joke, right? There’s no way anyone could take this shit seriously.
yeah I do this all the time
i really really want a car
(even though I can’t drive), you see, and i’m such a lovely person that i will make someone buy it me for a fuck
everyone else i know does that to
srsly this is so accurate and realistic
my head is bursting
Actually it’s really sad how many holes are in all of these arguments. First off, as many men themselves attest to, there are a lot of time that they do indeed fuck for the power of it. Many, many times. Men who take tabs on who in their group has been with more women, men who make insulting remarks about women they’ve laid as if they made some sort of conquest and they’re the winners here, men who enjoy being able to take away a women’s right to say no because it gives them a sense of pride in their intimidation.
I have heard men and men again say “You would do this *insert sexual act* if you love me.” “Prove to me you love me.” “You owe me because of this _____ I did.” It happens quite often, and of course women out there do it, and of course non-binary people out there do it, but that doesn’t take away that many men do it often, because of the beliefs of the patriarchy, which you seem to miss in this diagram.
And hah. Women can fuck anywhere and everywhere they want. It’s funny because you seem to completely miss that although women and men alike should be able to do that because you know it’s their bodies and sexualities, it’s a reality that often women will be threatened, derided, ganged up on and badly hurt for expressing their sexuality. You calling them a slut for that is a perfect example. You, as a cisgender man it seems knowing how cissexist this all is in the first place, will not experience violence for you being sexual in all likelihood. And don’t you dare try to say “being call a player or asshole” is anywhere close to the physical and mental violence a woman can have thrown at her for having sex. You can go to sleep safe and have society confirm to you that you’re fine to have sex, that it doesn’t lessen your character or make you worth being hurt, and yet many women don’t have the luxury to do that, and this isn’t even taking into account issues with different genders, both binary and non-binary.
And heh. If YOU can take the whole “some women don’t use birth control to take advantage of child support!!!!” argument to make this all valid supposedly, I can use the whole “Men for thousands of years have used their power to rape, beat, assault and overpower women so I guess all of them are wrong to be sexual and should be insulted for it!” But you wouldn’t like that will you?
And if you see that, you might see the inherent flaw in this whole post.
And this isn’t getting on how bloody cissexist this whole thing is. We’re assuming a conventional “man” and “woman” when really that’s not how the reality of the world works. So dear sir, this whole thing ends up being a bunch of ill thought cissexist and sexist hurtful BS. Congratulations on wanting to put that on Tumblr with that sole intent it seems; you guess “person of the day” award [sarcasm]
reblogging because that ^
when my ex said “you would if you loved me”
I always said “clearly I don’t love you then”
I’m a fucking fabulous bitch
they know when they have sex there is a chance for pregnancy and or STD/STI. SO you dumb fuck yes they are asking for it. Dont have sex if you are not going to take responsibility for what may happen. Just like if you jump down the stairs. It may be fun but you need to understand you may break your neck and be paralyzed for the rest of your life for that minute of fun.
I think you are the most ridiculous anon I have ever had.
And they do take responsibility… Having your STI treated is taking responsibility, having an abortion is taking responsibility.
By your logic…whenever you do something, you are asking for the negative consequences.
When you walk, you might fall over - does that mean you’re asking to fall over?
When you have money, you may get it stolen - does that mean you’re asking to be robbed?
When you go out, you may get beaten up - does that mean you’re asking to be beaten up?
When you eat food, you may choke - does that mean you’re asking to choke?
When you cross the road, you may get run over - does that mean you’re asking to be run over?
When you don’t wear a bulletproof vest, you may get shot and die - does that mean you were asking to die from a gunshot wound?
This could go on forever.
Your logic = fail.
I don’t think I’m the one who’s a “dumb fuck” here. Knowing there is a risk of something happening is not the same as “asking for it.”
Also you have assumed education. There are some people who genuinely may not know that sex could result in STDs/STIs or pregnancy (they may believe myths).