In the movies people tend to say the right thing at exactly the right time. There is no pause. They are quick to flash back an appropriate remark. They are not real people, so it makes sense that they don’t have regrets about not saying the right thing at the right time. They have lines. They have scripts. So it makes sense in their fake world.
I frequently wish that I was quicker to respond appropriately in the moment. My mind is often a flurry of random thoughts, so when something happens around me it takes me longer to respond. It’s normal and just the way I am, and the way a lot of people are. I wish I had quicker reactions, a bit like a fly, they sometimes appear to anticipate our movements when we try to swat them. If only I was a bit more like a fly. What a wish!
Yesterday, some men in a car yelled at me when I was out for a run. Men shout at me or make some sort of comment to me at least once a week. All women know how this feels. We are constantly verbally attacked by men. I had to get used to it, it happens so often. Some men feel that they have that entitlement over women, they feel they have the right to assault us with their words, or do worse, physically assault us. My reflex is to ignore the words and shut it out. It was easier when I lived abroad, because I couldn’t understand what they were saying, but here shutting it out is needed.
But recently, I am fed up with having to shut it out and ignore. Why should I have to do that ! So I am starting to respond, the only way I think right, by telling them to piss off. They don’t have the right to tell me that they think I am pretty, to try and make me feel that they have some hold over me. They have no right to say anything to me. They will not make me feel unsafe.
Some of you may read this and think that these compliments are harmless. No. I feel unsafe. They harm me. They make me feel on edge, that “harmless” comment about me being beautiful, could lead to them following me down a street and raping me. So yes they are harmful.
A few times now, I have responded the way I wanted to, no regrets later, no ‘I wish I had said that” moment. Every time that I show that I dislike them speaking to me, the men laugh. They laugh. And they are not even men sometimes. A group of children that live in my street yelled inappropriate things at me a few times. Children!
It saddens me and makes me very angry that society has become like this. That some men and some boys feel they can treat women like this. I know that there are many men who not like this, they exist and will be sad to read this I am sure. I have often wondered why some men treat women so badly.
It was not long ago that I thought, in a sad and twisted way, that men did have the right to control women and treat them how they wanted. They were after all, the ones who had been made first by God. He made man first and then he made woman. We were an after thought. Unimportant and second to man. To add to the insult. We were made from one of his ribs. The big man in the sky couldn’t even bother creating us out of something new, he just used a bit from that man, a bit that he deemed surplus and not needed. A bit that was discarded by man.
Then I was told, that men were the head of the household. That wives must listen and obey their husbands. This translated into the message that women are inferior. It was acceptable to me then, that in their inferiority, that women should stay quiet, allow their men to tell them what to do and speak on their behalf. It was after all, what God wanted and said must happen, so it must be right. I went through life thinking that the everyday sexism that I saw was okay. I had a god given self loathing because I was an evil woman and any unfairness that came with it was justified.
I believe that religion has to answer for, why, we humans are so sexist. Religion has the power to influence the minds of so many. The religion I know has taught us to hate ourselves because we are sinful and evil. It has taught us to hate women who brought sin into the world. It has taught us to be wary of the women, for they will drag you to hell. And people buy into this because the religion I know tells us to believe or die. If you don’t believe you will go to hell, compelling reason to follow its sexist doctrine, isn’t it?
Religious people freely cut out the bits of the bible that repulse them in this day an age. They no longer justify slavery with the words of the bible, they no longer avoid shellfish, they twist the bits they want to twist. So why not cut out and twist the bits that allow the subjugation and mistreatment of women? Why not bring them up to the same level as men ? Why not finally give women the same respect and power that men are given?
Keeping women in an inferior position within our society is in the interest of religion. The religion I knew does not women to have equality. It does not women to have control over their own bodies. It does not want them to feel safe and confident. It wants women to depend on men. It wants women to be controlled by men, because if women were on the same level then perhaps religion would completely fall apart without them. Give women equal power, then they won’t rely on men and they won’t need God. Women will no longer rely on anyone but themselves. They will be empowered to live as themselves.
Explains why the churches are so full of women doesn’t it?
Sexism is everywhere and we need to stamp it out, if we achieve that, we will free humankind from religion.
* Photo detail: I used to feel really unsafe when I lived in Mexico, people shouted things to me all the time in the streets. Men said all sorts of things I didn’t care to learn. It was easier to tune out and walk on.