Men learn to hate the little girl inside of them, the feminine child who never got a chance to grow up properly.
Men learn that being girly is bad and being girly means being a person who has feelings and the world that men live in must be very dull indeed, Pleasantville all over again, and for that, I am truly sorry.
The movement #believewomen exists because men have learned to repress, ignore, deride, hate, and hide from their own internalized femininity. They call the thing they’ve created out of this unnatural repression “masculinity.” Feminists call it “toxic,” because it is missing a few key ingredients. Like compassion. Or empathy. All things repressed along with feminine characteristics, talents, and personality.
I am a woman. I know women lie. Women lie all the time — just about as much as men do. Women lie primarily about the things men lie about. We lie to cover up our faults and weaknesses. We lie to make ourselves look good.
But then, there’s sexual violence.
When it comes to sexual violence, men lie and never seem to feel the slightest hint of guilt. Men lie to themselves first and foremost. “That girl in the club who was paying zero attention to me and out having fun with her friends totally wanted me to intrude on her night and hit on her.” “I’m sure that girl I was dancing with didn’t mind when I slapped her ass or grabbed her tits.” “That girl in college was totally sober enough to consent, even though she was barely conscious.” “Waking my new girlfriend up by demanding sex and then getting on top of her before asking for consent is totally legit.” “That guy making rape jokes and talking about how women are lying whores definitely would never actually assault anyone.” “I am a good person.”
Men believe rape is something that happens on another planet. They do not bother to read laws or policies about sexual consent because they are so sure that they are on top of it. They figure as long as no one accuses them of rape, they’re doing just fine. When a woman says “that thing you did, that was not okay,” they immediately come up with ten reasons why she is lying. Reason one is always, ‘to get attention.’
Men speak to get attention. Men bolster their resumes and out-shout each other and talk over women and insist they are special in order to get attention. Human beings, it turns out, need attention to survive. Yet somehow the kind of attention women seek when we speak is pathological. Go figure.
Men continue to view rape as the thing that happens in other cities, in other neighborhoods, in other families, at other schools. Sure, rape might happen, they think, but much more rarely than women say it does. Sure, rapists might exist, but definitely no one I know. Definitely I have never done anything “questionable” myself. No sir.
Every cis guy secretly believes he might be a rapist. Which makes no sense to him, because he also believes he is a good person. That must mean being a rapist is not a thing, or does not really matter, or is just a thing all guys are at heart and the good ones try to avoid showing it, but sometimes fail. Every guy treats being a rapist like it’s a moment when that man’s true male colors shine through. Like the only solution is more repression. Like being a rapist is what all men are, can’t help it, and the only difference is some men get caught.
- Yeah, not every guy. But also? Every guy.
So men convince themselves rape, as in real “legitimate” rape, is something as absolutely impossible as a fairy tale. When someone they know says ‘rape’ or ‘sexual violence’ or even just ‘some guy grabbed my ass in the hall,’ men suddenly feel called to become the star of their own personal detective novel. Did he? Could he? Clearly they personally are in the best position to know.
Every guy seems to treat actual accusations of rape as though they are about as likely as a statement that aliens landed on the front lawn. In the end, every guy concludes she must be lying. She is simply not a credible witness.
By virtue of being female, that is. Or really, by virtue of being too feminine to be believable.
Men, after all, have spent a lifetime learning not to heed the voices or needs of the feminine.
Every woman is put through the credibility detector. And she always comes up wanting. Her story is not bad enough to justify her rage; what happened to her could not have happened, even though it statistically does happen, every day; what happened to her could have happened, just not to her, she’s not pretty or sexy or skinny enough, no guy would want her; she’s too sexy, she must have wanted it, and clearly a woman who wants sex does not have the right to choose who it is with, and who it’s not.
I spent so much of my life obsessing about my credibility. Thinking, one day, when I have that graduate degree/that publication/that job, then maybe.
But nothing I ever do or earn will make up for the fact that I’m a woman in patriarchal society. Most guys are always going to listen to other guys first. Even men I trust are unlikely to hold other guys accountable. It’s amazing how terrified men get when it comes time to confront other men. I have sympathy, sure. But it’s amazing how much harm men can do while ‘good’ men, ‘feminist’ men, stick to the shadows and follow the rules.
I guess being a guy under patriarchy is soul-crushing. I guess I’m supposed to say, that’s a good excuse for becoming a monster and then crushing women when we get in the way of doing whatever it takes to win. But I guess instead I’m wondering, just what kind of game is this, anyway.
And I guess I’m wondering how this guy expects women to love him, to trust him, to want to be close to him, without being afraid. I guess I’m wondering how I can possibly look at this man with any real faith.