I’ve never really thought about this until recently, because I was always too concerned with whether or not I was being perceived as “conceited” or “a “bitch,” but…
Do you realize the irony and audacity it takes for a man to assume that a woman is bragging or “showing off” when she references how often she’s hounded by men? Too often in conversations about instances where women are hit-on/approached/followed/etc. do I hear nonchalant remarks of, “oh, you just have so many boys after you, don’t you?”—Failed attempts at humor, somehow implying that the woman (and I’m speaking somewhat personally, so me, the woman, here) is recounting the story in effort to recount all of these wonderful accolades that she has worked very hard for.
Pause. Hopefully, the irony and audacity is clear by now. Really, I wish I could stop. But, it’s still fucking happening all the time so, alas, I cannot. So, let me break it down for you.
- If this is someone’s response to you feeling like you can’t go into public without being hit on or approached as a young woman, then on the most basic level, they’re missing the point. Not only are they missing the point of your stories, but their understanding is also completely counter to your entire point. Somehow, they’ve taken your words to mean “I realize how sexy I am since men always treat me this way,” instead of “I’m tired of only ever being sexualized by men, even in the most impersonal circumstances and I don’t want to be treated this way.” This is irony.
- This response, by default, eliminates any idea that the man could possibly have the burden to act/change (and I say “possibly” for emphasis on the absurd, because he most definitely does bear this burden). Instead of the reaction being, “Wow, men should not assume that a woman is a piece of meat that needs or wants to be bid on as she walks by, so they should stop,” their reaction is somehow, “Wow, they’re doing this and since it won’t change, the resolution is that you deal with it and realize that’s the consequence of being a young woman.” This is audacity.
- In addition to just…completely dodging the point of the conversation, this response only further pushes the woman back into the “Any ounce of self-awareness, self-respect, or confidence you have to speak about injustices should be pounded out of you and dismissed immediately” corner that the Patriarchy has so kindly reserved for her. Victim-shaming, yet again. This is irony.
- Perhaps the most absurd part about this response is the implication that the woman’s grievance is a sneaky way for her to brag about how many guys she can get. Because, you realize (somewhat circling back to #1), that bragging about something means that it’s a good or enviable thing. Are you fucking kidding me? Do you want your entire being, as society sees you on the street, to be constantly mitigated and sexualized and completely objectified? As if you have no autonomy or agency and exist entirely for the entertainment and satisfaction of somebody else? No?? I didn’t fucking think so! Because it sucks! Which is why I’m not bragging! So, how dare you. This is audacity.
So, like. Do you get it? Isn’t that fucked up?