Yes All Women

I have a love/hate relationship with the #YesAllWomen hashtag. I love that it’s raising awareness, but I hate that it needs to exist at all. It makes for infuriating reading, but is also so damn familiar at the same time.

Oh yes, so many times. Because “No” just isn’t enough. Neither is “You are not my type”. Or “I’m not looking right now”. For some men if you are single then you are up for grabs, why would you choose to be single rather than with a man? Why would you expect to be able to choose which men you date/fuck? But, “I have a boyfriend”, now that’s a legitimate reason. I was once on the Tube on the way home from a gig, it was late, the carriage was almost empty aside from two other women. Then a man boarded, he was drunk but not incapacitated by it. He instantly went straight to woman one and started flirting, she told him she had a boyfriend and he moved on to sit right next to woman two, and started to chat her up. She kept politely but firmly rebuffing him, it couldn’t have been any more clear that she not only didn’t want to flirt with him, but she also didn’t want to sit next to him. He, of course, wouldn’t take no for an answer and kept bugging her and bugging her for her mobile number. Eventually she relented and gave him a number. This guy has obviously been given fake numbers a few times as he instantly rang it, shock surprise, her phone did not ring. I don’t know about you, but if I was constantly being given fake numbers I’d want to look at what I was doing that meant people didn’t want to stay in contact, but this guy? He just got angry, and stood looming over her. Luckily at that point a load more men boarded and he decided to leave. Now if she’d also said she had a boyfriend it seems reasonable to think that he’d have left her alone like the other woman. It was also telling that other women in the carriage did not deter him from aggression, but the arrival of men did. Should note, this is only one example of this. I have many more, as I’m sure most other women do too.

Again, so familiar. If you are male and reading this could you have a quick think about how much advice you have been given about how to avoid being attacked/raped? I was talking to a male relative a while back about how it’d be nice to be able to just pop to the local pub like he does. He was honestly surprised, he’d assumed I didn’t do so because I didn’t want to. I had to point out that first I’d have to walk there alone. He, of course, does walk there alone and had never been particularly aware that along the route to the pub there is a tree lined pedestrian walk way which is bordered on both sides by fields. Once you are on that walk way it is quite empty, he’d never thought of it as dangerous whereas to me it was an obvious danger route even in daylight. Then he didn’t realise how different it’d be at the pub for me. He turns up at the pub and sits alone making small talk with strangers on the off chance someone he knows turns up. I know that if I were to sit in a pub alone the “small talk” I’d have to put up with would not be about sport, weather or politics. I would spend my time trying to deflect advances from a variety of men, this isn’t to say I’m some stunner who is irresistible, but for some men any woman alone will do. I know that it’s been hard enough when I’ve gone to meet friends and got there before them, that time before they arrive is quite intimidating. And of course then I’d have to walk home, this time through the same walk way but badly lit. So technically I could do what he does, but I’d be at much more risk than him. Which doesn’t make for a relaxing evening out. Even getting a taxi to and from is fraught with it’s own difficulties. Nothing quite like being trapped in a car with an unknown man to make you nervous.

There just hasn’t.

There is also little consequence for a man if he does say no. For a woman saying no can put her in danger. Just have a read of When Women Refuse. In my own personal experience a previous boyfriend attempted to rape me because I said no. And I’ve had a few stalkers who upped their stalking as a direct result of me telling them no.

5 thoughts on “Yes All Women

  1. There is no such concept as universal sisterhood, or that all women share the same experiences. It is a gross over-simplification, and wipes out the unique experiences every woman goes through.

    Honestly, I think was of the unintended consequences of sexual liberation, that women are no longer bound to be another’s, is that some men take it to mean they can have sex with any woman they choose. Even if she did really have a boyfriend…I mean, look at the song “I like it” by Enrique Iglesias. (It’s a fave song of mine, but it’ll explain my point.) The lyrics go “My girlfriend’s out of town, I am all alone/Your boyfriend’s on vacation, he doesn’t have to know.” Hook-up culture doesn’t help, either; neither do female chauvinists who now look at men as pieces of meat yet decry when men treat them the same.

    1. I do like your attempt to shift the blame from men who refuse to let a woman say no to the women, however it is a weak argument. It is based on the idea that pre-sexual liberation men were always perfect gentlemen and never ever went for women who were unavailable, which is total nonsense. Try harder.

      1. I am not shifting the blame away from these men, and I am not saying men before the sexual liberation movements were perfect gentlemen (I know of a few Don Juans in my geneology). I am just pointing out one of the unforeseen fallouts of the women’s liberation movement, is that some men see women as always sexually available, regardless if they are in a relationship (presuming monogamy, of course) or not. With the post-feminist rise of hook-up culture, friend-with-benefits, and the polyamory movement, some men will unfortunately mistake it as women being sexually available to satisfy urges.

        Maybe it’s time, then, for women to learn self-defense, or carry arms, or learn to go places in groups so to prevent stuff from happening. You go into areas where drugs and alcohol are served, or people will try to act all macho, you know someone is going to act like a jerk. Women who dress to attract others will attract not only people they want to attract, but guys they don’t like, either. Freedom is a two-way street. I’m not “blaming the victim”, but precautions must be taken.

  2. When I started reading this post here, I read: “I have a love/hate relationship with the #YesAllWomen hashtag. I love that it’s raising awareness, but…” and I thought “maybe she’ll have the same criticism as me?” but sure enough, no. You didn’t. No one does.

    The reason I am not the #1 biggest fan of the “#YesAllWomen” hashtag is that… I have pretty much nothing to contribute to it. That for me, things that apply to “all” women don’t often apply to me, and yet I am certainly a fellow cis-woman. I feel like it is either disingenuous or mistaken to imply that every woman in Western culture has experienced most/all of the things on the hastag. Yet whenever I see people blogging about this, it was “yes, it’s completely true, all women experience this” and here I am feeling awful for the women who go through these things, but not fully relating.

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