… I've very much wanted to type about consent, the measures many women take to keep themselves safe, harrassment in the workplace and other hot button topics. I've very much wanted to type about the status of women and others in the world today. But while I am a woman I have so often felt unqualified to put my words on a page (even a webpage) to type about things. Instead I've read many articles, retweeted many tweets, typed occasional responses to items posted to Facebook and thought a lot (and talked in person to folks) about these issues. Imperfect communication measures at best, but this has been my method of dealing and I guess internalizing the information that has been passed about. There is truth to much of what folks talk about regarding these issues, and while I still feel inadequately able to talk about the more public issues, I think I'll take some time to type about more personal experiences, some of which have been mentioned here on this blog before.
I'm fortunate in that I haven't had to deal directly with many of the horrific things that women often face. Most of the insults and other negative encounters I've had have been by males, yes, but they have been relatively minor in the grand scheme of things. Much of the time things focus on my race, on my gender, on my religion (or lack thereof or the fact that it's not what they might expect), or my name. But most of the time they are issues that I can easily ignore, brush away, gripe about later, or not even know about directly as they don't have a huge direct impact on my daily life, or at least not one I feel like I can do anything about. But they are if not daily occurrences, they happen weekly. And I like my gender, ethnic origins, lifestyle, belief system, values etc. So I'm not about to change them even if they might not fit the mold that someone else wants them to fit. Or at least, I like to think that that's the case, now that I'm in my 30s and not quite so young and naive anymore (okay, I'm still young and naive about many things, just not to the same extent as previously perhaps).
But I hate so much of the way that people think it's okay to do certain things. And when I say people I do not limit to men only, but they do happen to be some of the folks that I've experienced this behaviour from most often. But women are not immune from doing things that are incredibly incorrect when it comes to abusing authority, taking advantage of others etc. Below I will list some of the situations that have come to mind recently from my personal experiences in the past decade or more. I might type more about some of them in future blog postings but in this posting I think I'll just list a few of them here, and yes some of them might seem overly general or vague, but. I'm not going to go to the effort of putting them in complete sentences or even giving a huge amount of effort to making them all have the same subject or parallel sentence structure. I'm just going to list things at this stage.
– someone assuming that just because I exist I would automatically be going out on a date with themselves (without actually asking first)
– people making the assumption that being friends is somehow a consolation prize
– having one's complaints about a someone belittled because that person has some sort of excuse (mental illness/past drug use/etc.) — which may be true, but that complaint may also have merits!
– hearing many inappropriate comments regarding race/religion/sex directed at me
– having someone attempt to initiate an intimate act without consent or asking first (I don't know of many women to whom this hasn't happened in one way shape or form, quite honestly whether it be in the actual bedroom or on the street, limited to touching/kissing/etc. or well beyond that)
– having inappropriate amounts of information about a person and trying to meet them on far too frequent of a basis (stalkerish behaviour, where someone has decided that 'no' doesn't mean no with regards to dating, hanging out etc.)
– choosing to not give a hard no/refusal answer in order to not offend (sometimes for fear someone doing something inappropriate in reaction to a no answer), and the other person decides that this is an invitation to continue advancing etc.
– unwanted gifts of excessive value by a member of the opposite sex with whom one does not have a prior relationship (relationships INCLUDE friendship here. It's one thing when a friend or a secret santa or someone gives you something but when the gift is of personal care nature, is potentially 'sexy' or otherwise and the person giving it happens to be almost a stranger this is pretty awkward)
– unsolicited phone calls that automatically assume that one is married (if female) or any other personal assumptions that can be concerning
– needing to plan an exit strategy suddenly from a date or other situation where one fears for one's own safety for any reason
– being bullied as an adult by someone who is an authority figure sucks. It was never fun as a child or teen either, of course, but why is this even close to being acceptable?
You see, even though I haven't been traumatized yet in such a way that I fear for my life, or feel unsafe at work, or experienced many of the other more serious offenses that the recent scandals, conversations, articles etc. have talked about, my concerns with the way that society excuses certain behaviour patterns are real. I am not perfect myself, but I operate in this world where certain behaviours go on. I still feel inadequate to type about this, particularly on so public of a venue as the internet, but I want to make clear that problems do indeed exist, even if I feel inadequate to describe them properly.