Taking Charge

Let’s talk about rape. Specifically, let’s talk about rapey rape, the kind that you can actually get pregnant from. I can’t say I’ve ever felt myself in danger of that, but I have been both stalked and physically harassed, so I do know a thing or two about objectification. In the case of my aforementioned harasser, the only way I could get rid of him was by threatening to call the police. True story.

So with that out of the way, let’s cut the crap about how men can never possibly understand what women have to go through. In a sense, it’s true, but too often, I hear that sentiment bandied about as if all men are allowed to do when issues of sexual harassment are brought up is nod our heads. No, thank you. I like to think for myself. Maybe I don’t know what it’s like to be afraid that the outfit I’m wearing is going to attract unwanted attention. Then again, it’s a calculated risk. Saying that there are steps one can take to minimize one’s chances of being raped is not the same as saying the bitch was asking for it. At a certain point, people do have to take responsibility for what happens to them. Even if I didn’t deserve to be stalked, I could have ended it fairly quickly had I sacked up and told the bugger to fuck off right away. Instead, I was indecisive. I’m only human.

It takes a lot of courage to just be yourself. And one of the things that not everyone understands about introverts–or “loners”, as some have called me–is that sometimes it takes more courage not to say what’s on your mind than to say it. I argue a lot. I get right up in the faces of people I barely know and tell them that they need to change their attitude. Honestly, I don’t enjoy it. Close friends have told me I’m acting like an asshole. I’m fine with that. I’d rather be an asshole than a bigot. If I could get away with being a nice person, I would do so. But whenever I try to be nice to people, whenever I show deference in the hopes that they will take their pound of flesh and leave me in peace, it’s never enough. They want to keep sucking the life out of me, never taking their fangs out until I have essentially ceased to be. And I will not stand for it. The argument is over when I say it’s over, and not one second before or after. After acknowledging that, I feel empowered.

At the opposite end of the spectrum are people who act out in the hopes of getting others to drop their guard and cut loose. I would never do this, but I feel that more people need to be willing to make complete idiots of themselves in a public setting like the dude below is. To me, this video is like a cross section of how people respond when confronted with something that breaks with societal norms. There’s the creep at 1:08 who, I swear, should be on a sex offender registry, the charming woman at 0:44 who just sings along, and my future husband at 0:52, whose sexy smile and easygoing nature make me weak in the knees. (I admit that I’m being a bit presumptuous in judging these people based off of five-second clips on Chatroulette, so in all seriousness, if the dude at 1:08 is just a regular guy who came off a bit weird, I apologize. God knows I’ve been mistaken for a much shadier character than I am, and it stings, it really does. But I don’t think I’m wrong in my perception.)

Part of what has made these past few years so challenging for me is my gradual realization that ultimately, I do have some power over what happens to me. It doesn’t mean that I don’t have the right to complain when somebody gives me shit, just that they might not do it as much if I can defend myself. I have sympathy for all victims of abuse. But if they’re not going to admit even the smallest error in judgment or oversight on their part, then that’s all they’ll get: sympathy. The people I fight for are the ones who fight for themselves. I consider myself a feminist, but to me, there is a lot more to feminism than simply outlining the ways in which being a woman is tough. You have to do something about it. If you don’t, then you are, and I say this with the utmost respect, a total chickenshit.

There are times when I just want to lie down, close my eyes, and forget the world exists. Every time that I have done that, I have eventually found the strength to get back up again. Somewhere along the line, the victim learns to fight back. I’m not a vengeful person, so I try not to focus my energies on just getting back at those who have wronged me. (It’s also, in a bit of a digression, why I had mixed feelings about Inglourious Basterds.) To me, there is no distinction between acting one way because you think other people expect that of you and lying to yourself. Here’s a question for everyone reading this: Do you think I’m being unfair? If so, do me a favor and read something else. A life spent being anyone other than yourself is wasted time. Fortunately, you should have plenty of time to get there.

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