Rape Culture, Feminism, Women, Men & the Internet.

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The other day, I confessed to my boyfriend that I was concerned when I first met him, that he wouldn’t see me as ‘girlfriend material’ because admittedly, we’d slept together on the first date. I am aware there’s a popular opinion that girls who ‘give it away’ too quickly are seen by some men as “less” than girls who wait. I told him I don’t see it that way: the way I see sexual chemistry is, as a series of moments. And if, in the moment, you are feeling like you want to engage the sexual parts of yourselves, then by all means you should be able to. I told him I was just doing what I felt was right for us and but I still had hoped he wouldn’t see me as someone not to be taken seriously.

He told me this: that men who believe some girls are ‘worth waiting for’ and some aren’t, is a terrible thing for men to say, because it places them in the position of saying that a woman’s worth is measured by him. That, as the man, he gets to decide that some girls have worth to him, and some don’t. He agreed with me: that if you enjoy each other’s company and both people are consenting to be a part of that moment, that moment can and should happen without and judgment.

The reason this meant so much to me is that it reassured me of two things: one, that I had nothing to be ashamed of in terms of adult choices I have made about my own sexuality; and two, that there are really good MEN out there (not BOYS, but MEN) who don’t measure a woman’s worth by their own desires and their own beliefs about how women ‘should’ behave; they simply see people they like or don’t like, as people. This to me, is a very progressive and feminist attitude that I was proud and happy to say my boyfriend possesses.

I know women who are so down on men. They have been burned before by men – countless numbers of times. I have been burned in the cruelest ways possible and I know so many girls who have dealt with the same disrespect. I know girls who have seen the worst in men, had men do things to them that if mentioned, would make your blood run cold. After my first-ever devastating heartbreak I remember just how much I hated men, and I remembered just how much I hated myself in return. Lorena Bobbitt had suddenly become my hero. I believed all men were only after themselves and I never thought I’d hear a man tell me he loved me or witness a man treat me with any ounce of respect. I was done for. Love was dead and if men were going to treat me like shit I was going to treat them, and me, like shit to protect myself. I’m guilty of that. I’m guilty of man-hating. I’m guilty of believing men want a sweet piece of ass and that’s it. And for this, I am deeply sorry.

The internet has exploded so many times this past year – NFL scandals, the plight of Jain Ghomeshi, and several social media accounts such as this one on instagram that publicly shames men who believe women owe them something or else those same women are selfish stuck-up bitches. With all these (VERY justified) portrayals of men in the media, on social media, and spreading like wildfire, it’s easy to forget the underlying message of feminism: that it is NOT about ‘man-hating’; rather, it is about equality. And it is ultimately equality between men and women which will stomp out the Jian Ghomeshis and Stuebenville football players and ‘Felipes’ of the world. Emma Watson’s UN speech so eloquently pointed to this and thus, the short-lived He-for-She movement was born. But as soon as some other incident which prompted the finger pointed at all men once again, that friendlier, purer version of feminism was closed and the man-hating, all-men-are-assholes book of feminism was reopened once again.

Do I believe men are assholes? Yes. I do. I know men in my life who agree that there are fewer ‘good guys’ out there than there are ‘good girls’. And do I believe this is true? Based on my own dating life, my experiences as an abuse survivor, and the experiences of my friends on the dating scene, yes, I do. HOWEVER… is it also possible that women can be awful to men as well, and that the way we treat one another speaks to what else in our 21st century social-emotional world is broken? Open halls of personal communication for example; or how about too many outlets to look deeply into the ‘good parts’ of others’ lives and relationships and feel inadequate, jealous, or worse, unworthy of having the good things our peers, celebrities and politicians have? Or what about the fact that we all carry cell phones so we have excuses as well as easy ways to ignore one another right in our pockets? Technology, 21st century living, and even consumerism and body image portrayals are all contributing to our own fears, inadequacies and/or feelings of entitlement as men and women. The WORLD is not necessarily a great platform on which to place how men and women ‘should’ behave anymore. Society creates rape culture. Both men and women are victims of it. That’s what I believe.

I will admit I’m saying this in part because I have a man in my life who is far from the ‘entitled rapist’ that characterizes 21st century males out there. I will admit I’m saying this because when one is suddenly happy and in love, she sees men differently than she does when she is a spurned lover. But having laid these disclaimers on the table, I will say I’m sick of the negativity surrounding the male gender. I’m sick of the view that all men believe they are ‘owed’ sex because they bother to compliment a woman. Just as I am aware of pickup artists, pickup gangs, high school boys sending snap chats of their naked girlfriends to everyone in their school without considering the consequences, and so on and so forth. These issues are issues, but being positive about where we are going and how we as men and women relate to one another seems more productive than man-hating and man-shaming. Women can be powerful without being bullies. If women can only feel empowered by bullying the opposite sex, are we not contributing just as much to rape culture? Stop it, ladies. Not ALL men are cold-hearted bastards, k?

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