Trigger Warnings: Discussion of rape, sexual assault, molestation, rape culture
I will couch this entire post with a disclaimer: I love guys. I think they’re fascinating, fun, sexy creatures. I am not a man-hating queer feminist. Far from it. But I do have my reservations.
I’ve always had trouble trusting guys.
There’s no real reason for this. My dad is amazing, I have many great male figures in my extended family who have a deep respect for women. I was never sexually abused or assaulted in any way at any point in my life.
But I don’t have a brother, and most of my closest friends growing up only had sisters. Being homeschooled, I was only around boys a couple of times a week. They were a bit of a mystery to me. I didn’t know how to relate with them.
There’s no real reason why I became skeptical of every guy’s motives. Wondering if the only reason they were being nice to me was to get a “piece of me.” I felt arrogant that I would assume this, but, as I began dating, I doubted every guy’s intentions. I could never truly release these suspicions.
Sure, he loved me, but would he love me if I were fatter, uglier, more of a prude?
I melted when a guy seemed “sweet and sensitive,” but, all the time, I wondered if this was a ploy, an act put on just to get me to fall for them and put out. Surely, it was too good to be true.
I heard stories about this sort of behavior. Guys were animals, I decided. They were dangerous. That was why I wasn’t supposed to wear tank tops around them. They couldn’t control their impulses. What if even the most well-meaning guy snapped? I was less powerful than them, physically. I would be rendered defenseless.
I learned of a situation in which a person everyone considered to be a Really Nice Guy got drunk and tried to rape a friend. This sent me reeling. If he couldn’t even be trusted, if he couldn’t control himself, who could?
I studied the statistics. They are chilling. Some studies say that 1 in 3 women will experience rape or sexual violence in their lifetime. Many of my friends have dealt with the aftermath of their own assaults. They were faced with the decision of whether or not to report it, because ultimately, would it really matter? Would anyone believe them? Would it just be seen as an inconvenience? Would it just drag things out and prevent them from healing?
My ex wife has been extremely open about her own experiences that were absolutely harrowing. I know what it is like to be the partner of a survivor of molestation, rape, and attempted rape. Even 30+ years later, the nightmares during feverish sleep still bubbled up from deep under the surface. The aversions to certain types of men. Being held in a specific way.
I feel so incredibly lucky that I have “dodged this bullet”–this bullet with a very wide spray like buckshot and impeccable aim. So far. And that’s what scares me the most. Is my time still coming? Will I become one of those statistics?
I have never felt more targeted than when I have been openly queer, walking with my wife. I needed to experience “the right dick” to make me straight. I was “too hot to be a dyke.” And maybe this stranger, eyeing us on the El would be the one to take it upon himself to make it happen.
I realize that my suspicions and my skepticism are unfair to countless men. “NOT ALL MEN,” right? I know many guys who respect women, who consider themselves to be feminists, who call their friends out on sexist language.
But it’s so sad. So, so upsetting that this is the exception to the rule for me. That I’m pretty much dumbfounded/highly aroused when a man declares himself to be a feminist. (Hey, male feminists, holla at me! I will kiss you on the mouth.) That I beam with pride when I discuss dating with a young man, and he tells me that he said no to a girl’s advances because she was drunk. He wanted to make sure that she was serious and wanted to wait until she was sober. It’s sad that I think these behaviors are exceptional.
I think that men will always have to prove themselves to me. That they’re not governed by their dicks. That they don’t have ulterior motives. That I am more than a piece of meat.
But, as long as rapes get filmed and posted on Snapchat, as long as what a woman’s wearing is a determining factor in whether or not she was “asking for it” when she was assaulted, and as long as bisexual women are more than twice as likely to be raped as straight women, as long as Men’s Right Activists exist, I daresay my fears are not entirely unfounded.
It’s terrifying to think about. That, statistically, especially for me as a queer woman, it’s not a matter of “if,” it’s a matter of “when.”