Because, in 2014 (not, you know, 1814), a woman can be sent a document, from her husband, detailing when she said no to sex. Because a website can publish a list of traits “attractive girls” have that, I guess, “unattractive” girls don’t. Because a man who’s not exactly on good terms with women’s equality can make an entire album for his ex-wife about getting her back – and people think it’s cute, not incredibly invasive and creepy.
Because, perhaps worst of all, many responses to such stories express support for the men writing and conveying such worldviews; because people, especially women, who oppose such treatment are threatened, harassed, abused. Women are owed to men, it seems.
The woman who posted her husband’s bizarre list of her saying no to sex, wrote: “This is a side of him I have never seen before… Bitter, immature, full of hatred.” In response, we had the Internet in all its misogynistic glory.
“Her vagina clanged shut months ago and he’s simply pointing that out,” postulated an expert in strangers’ marriage and women’s anatomy.
“She’d have to have the IQ of a doorknob to think her constant & repeated rejection of her husband wouldn’t have an adverse affect on him,” bleated another.
“The poor guy is continuously putting himself out there only to be shot down with half truths,” asserted a finger-waving therapist or perhaps best friend.
Some might say that we have no way of verifying the veracity of the woman’s claim. Yet, what concerns me – above whether a husband “really” documented the sexual habits of his wife like she’s an alien creature, he an anthropologist – is the responses put the blame on her, dismiss his behaviour as either expected or worth sympathising over.
This isn’t about anonymous internet trolls either. These are merely the voices of a widespread acceptance that dresses creepy, entitled behaviour in the wardrobe of romantic or unfair treatment. It’s why Robin Thicke can make an album named after an ex-wife, where every song is about getting her back, and it can not only be recorded and distributed, but purchased and celebrated.
We saw it in the men’s rights forums after Eliot Rodger went on his killing spree. “THIS is why we do what we do,” one said. “TO PREVENT THIS SHIT!!! He should have gone to our website and got our personal dating coaching or purchased one of our products. IF ANYONE NEEDS HELP, CONTACT US! Don’t ‘suffer injustice.’ ”
Injustice. Not getting women to sleep with you is an “injustice”. A man denied sex is a “poor guy”. Since when, men of the Internet, is sex a right you are owed? Since when has it become a tragedy women won’t sleep with you? In fact, is it any wonder that people want distance from you when rejection is deemed injustice, a lack of sex is viewed as basically a rights violation?
Probably every adult has had rejection, many then fought with every ounce of their being to “get her/him back”, when they first – first! – had some kind of romantic engagment – and knew nothing about boundaries. No one is denying the sense of dismissal and belittlement felt. But that gives you no licence to claim what a woman should’ve done: she does not owe you sex for being a friend. You are not owed her genitals on a platter for treating her like a person. You can create names for all sorts of states – friendzone, injustice, etc. – but that doesn’t legitimise your property claims on women any more than me sticking a flag on someone’s car makes it mine.
This tolerance of brutalising women into dating men and making romantic comedies of it; this acceptance that men will become violent, enraged, angry and its women’s fault for rejecting said men’s penises; this idea that women ought to live according to some arbitrary standard of attractiveness to be deemed worthwhile, all of it needs to be put in the same box as astrology: widely believed bullshit, sometimes published in national papers and media, that deserves erasing.
It needs constant pointing out because of how it’s so accepted, because of its ubiquity. It fills papers and pages, where women report street harassment – or, worse, when women all over the world just accept it’s going to happen because they’re on the street, in public.
I don’t know what sort of person would let another person be treated this way, but they’re not people I want to support. Orwell wrote, in 1946, “To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.” And women dictated to by men’s genitals is a good example of precisely that. The problem is that many become defensive about it. Pointing it out to men often means responses like “It’s just a joke”, “But I’m just complimenting her”, etc. Or perhaps, more strongly, idiot concepts like the friendzone, where a woman is a slot machine (“slut machine?) where you put in your nice coins and get sex out.
Women’s myriad mistreatment requires nuanced responses, but the overarching problem can be dealt with wholesale by not tolerating it ourselves and pointing out occruing immorality to others. Especially those men who agree it’s wrong and aiming at those who actually behave this way.
Until we stop being apathetic toward such views, until we start highlighting the many ways such behaviour is wrong to each other and for each other, until we stop doing it ourselves, don’t expect those of us opposing it to give into silence, while the hoots and catcalls and wailing of sexist men and unwelcoming environments continue.
Comments seem to be proving my point. So is my next post.