[Trigger warning: Sexual assault]
I can’t tell you how many times someone has heard my story of being sexually assaulted, and thankfully hasn’t been the type of person to say “well, women lie. It’s all a lie, and you’re a liar,” but instead has believed the truth – that everything I said happened happened.
They thought about me being underneath this man, crying, in large part because I hadn’t been listened to a *lot* that morning, the previous night, the whole previous week, or quite honestly even a lot before that. And it was all bubbling over.
They thought about my crying as this man climbs on top of me. They thought of me saying out loud the reason I was crying was because he was making me uncomfortable. None of us argue that he didn’t hear me because he made it clear he did – when he told me I was *wrong.* I was wrong about my own comfortability. [This next bit said with sarcasm] Obviously what I was really upset about was a relative in a hospital or stresses of life, of course it can’t be because of what I am literally saying with words, sounds, body language, emotional/visceral reactions, and facial expressions.
They imagine all of this – a man willfully and aggressively ignoring what’s right in front of his face and continuing with a crying woman who refused to touch him back – and justify that it’s okay because, “Well, Aurora, you know how guys are. They just don’t listen.”
Can I tell you a little secret?
MEN ARE PERFECTLY CAPABLE OF LISTENING. THEY DO NOT HAVE SOME SORT OF BRAIN DEFECT THAT PREVENTS THEM FROM CONPREHENSION.
Like, look, America. Either you agree with all these derogatory things you’re saying about men all the time like, “well, men are just idiots,” “men don’t get it,” “men don’t listen”… And then you should barely trust them to look after themselves, if you don’t think they can function. You maybe shouldn’t choose them to be every president we’ve ever had, the majority of CEOs and on and on and on. How do you trust men to run your country if you don’t think their brains work?
You know their brains actually really do have the capability of listening and empathy and you know and trust they can handle a lot, but you like to give excuses why women’s thoughts don’t matter (even if they’re heard).
So which is it, America? You believe those things and therefore women need to start running things and looking after these guys who seemingly can only half function, or you don’t believe those things at which point, why are you saying them?
Anyway, as per usge, I’m tangenting. So, let’s go back to what I was saying before which is that my whole entire life people have been saying to me, “well, boys don’t listen.”
When you’re a girl, all the way from elementary school, if a boy harms you in any way – hurts your feelings, hurts you physically, you’re scooped up and told basically that this is what you must expect. It is an unchangeable fact of life. The way fish swim and birds fly, boys can’t listen. So learn to be better for them.
[Side note: I read a story of a parent who took her young girl to the ER for a bruised up face/black eye because a boy had pushed her so hard and she fell into something, and the medical professional in the ER said, “he only does that ’cause he likes you.” [*sings*] It should not be romanticized for boys to be mean to you… That’s not cute and it’s sets the stage up for abusive relationships. [jazz hands]]
So anyway, you grow up and you acquiesce and you try not to get too mad if boys do some inconsiderate things… “Well, of course he forgot to wish me luck on my big thing today. Boys don’t listen.” “Well, of course he still makes fun of me for that thing I don’t like. Boys don’t listen.”
(And that doesn’t mean you never bring it up. It also doesn’t mean that you’re never the one who forgets or does inconsiderate things… I’m merely trying to say that your threshold for what’s considered “inconsiderate” or “not okay” – your whole spectrum is off, because you’ve been told to expect that the best you can expect is a half-listen. That’s the bright green of the spectrum of how boys are gonna teach you. So we’ve shoved the whole spectrum up – a bunch of this behavior that would’ve been in the red zone before is maybe just yellow or even light green now. After all, this is the way the world works. No changing it. Boys don’t/can’t listen to you…
And I always thought it was small things that didn’t really matter. (And thankfully I’ve known a lot of men who are great listeners – I know this may even be shocking, but way more fantastic listeners than me… a woman.) I didn’t realize what an ingrained societal norm it is to exuse all boys always for not listening until I heard story after story of assaults and rapes and everything where it’s like,
“Well, did she let him know that’s not what she wanted?”
“Oh, yeah, definitely.”
“He heard her? She didn’t whisper it?”
“Oh, he heard her ’cause he responded [any number of things like “shhhhh” or “you’re fine,” “calm down,” “I’m almost finished. I’m just gonna finish. SHHHHHHH!” Or “no, that’s not right/you’re wrong/you’re being too emotional,” or on and on and on and on]”
“I mean, okay. But like… crying could mean anything. And [semantics, semantics, semantics away everything else she said/did].” And then it becomes, “did she say it enough times?”
Like how many times do you need it?! I’m sorry, do I need to weld you a neon sign really fast here that says “I’m gonna need you to get off me *immediately.* Do not pass go, do not collect $200. GET. AWAY. FROM. ME. Is that clear enough?”
I mean, do you need me to start learning how to say get off in 20 languages? Does I need to be the in-your-face-version of the “It’s A Small World” ride?
Like at what point do we say the woman’s done enough?
If you were with a friend who saw a sign for something that said “Caution! Extremely hot! WILL cause burns!” And they shove their hand on that hot surface anyway, you might be empathetic to your suffering friend in the ambulance, but aren’t you also gonna be well aware that it was your friends actions/decisions who got him in that mess – not those of the hot surface?
“Well, why didn’t the hot surface have more precautions?! Why not more signs? Why not a force field that activated when my hand gets close? FORCE me to get away. Keep me away ’cause I can’t be expected to show any judgement or comprehension.” (Like, what?)
It’s not everyone’s job to protect that person at all costs. So when someone tells a man, and tells him clearly that something really hurts or that something is really uncomfortable, etc… it’s his job to get off. Period. Full stop.