"Rape culture is telling girls and women to be careful about what you wear, how you wear it, how you carry yourself, where you walk, when you walk there, with whom you walk, whom you trust, what you do, where you do it, with whom you do it, what you drink, how much you drink, whether you make eye contact, if you’re alone, if you’re with a stranger, if you’re in a group, if you’re in a group of strangers, if it’s dark, if the area is unfamiliar, if you’re carrying something, how you carry it, what kind of shoes you’re wearing in case you have to run, what kind of purse you carry, what jewelry you wear, what time it is, what street it is, what environment it is, how many people you sleep with, what kind of people you sleep with, who your friends are, to whom you give your number, who’s around when the delivery guy comes, to get an apartment where you can see who’s at the door before they can see you, to check before you open the door to the delivery guy, to own a dog or a dog-sound-making machine, to get a roommate, to take self-defense, to always be alert always pay attention always watch your back always be aware of your surroundings and never let your guard down for a moment lest you be sexually assaulted and if you are and didn’t follow all the rules it’s your fault."
This is exactly what I mean when I think about the fact that, if you are a woman, and especially if you are young, you are especially powerless. You're indoctrinated by this rape culture to live in fear. How many of you can walk down a street without feeling self-conscious? Society teaches you that because you're a girl, you always live with this level of danger, and that means you can never relax. You become hyper-aware of danger and are ready to see it even where it doesn't exist, because you're better safe than sorry. And this creates a world where you can't live life to its fullest, you can't take the little risks that make the euphoria of connection to humanity bubble up in your chest, that make one day a worthy representation of why life is awe-inspiring.
And usually, my response to this is a conscious "fuck you," walking down the streets with head held high and a song hummed under my breath and a smile for the homeless guy in the corner.
But every now and then, something happens that makes it all feel hopeless, something that throws you right back into that culture of fear that you thought you'd escaped. I say this today because coincidentally, today something happened to me that I think was creepier than anything that ever happened to me before: a guy at a bus stop.
I was going to recall the entire conversation, but honestly I don't remember all the words in the right order so I'm just going to get to the point: He started random conversation, said he was a nice guy and wanted to be friends. (...) He asked if I was married. (No.) If I had a boyfriend. (No.) ... (I'm asexual.) What? (It means you've got no interest in that sort of thing.) Bullshit. (Look it up.) So you don't like guys? Even nice guys? (...no.) And you don't like girls? (No.) Wait, you are a girl, right? (\o/, but to a lesser degree than what usually happens when I confuse people, because jesus fucking christ this is scary. "Kinda.") Kinda? Damn, you're fucked in the head. (...I'm gonna keep silent I'm not gonna say anything shut up. Yeah.) Oh, you know, I lost my phone the other day. I know, you could call it! 976- (...oh, I get it. Clever. "I don't have signal.") You think I'm a creep, don't you? A weirdo? (...) Yeah, you do. You know, think whatever the fuck you want. Oh look, here's the bus. You know, you shouldn't be so heartless all your life.
So yeah, I meant to write this anyway, and tumblr coincidentally gave me a good reference point: look at the intersection of acephobia (lack of understanding or awareness of asexuality, typified by the "you're just mean, you have no heart" attitude, made worse by the "I don't believe you, the right person could show you the error of your ways" attitude), misogyny/sexism (sexual harassment, thinking if a woman isn't open to said sexual harassment she's a bitch), transphobia, and rape culture.
For the first time in my life I was thinking, no wonder some people become bitter and start subscribing to the darker sides of radical feminism, the ideologies that say men are the enemy instead of the social forces that produce things like rape culture.
Except that's just the point. It is the social forces that produce such behavior that are the enemy. And the way to respond to the fact that the danger clearly exists is neither rape culture nor ignoring it, but still a conscious "fuck you." Because when you defy your own very real fear, that defiance is only more real and more meaningful.