WE AIM TO PLEASE.

Over the past year, I've found myself particularly drawn to feminist books. Books about empowering women. Periods. Sex. Smashing taboos. Increasingly, I come away feeling like I want to talk about one thing in particular: men

I'm not someone who believes women are better than men. And for the record, those people aren't feminists. A feminist is someone who believes men and women should have equal rights. And let's be honest, we don't. It doesn't matter how much times have progressed (and they have), we are very far from being seen as equal. Jobs of power. Pay grades. But the thing I want to talk about today is: the way women act.

Without knowing this, women are brought up to please men. Women should be polite. Women should smile. Women should be revealing, but not revealing enough to be a "slut". Women should be quiet. Women should be flattered if someone of the opposite sex gives her attention -- this is the one I want to talk about.

Why do we live in a society in which we should be grateful for unwanted, undesired attention? 

I sat with a pen and paper, and started to write down all the times I could remember doing something I wasn't entirely comfortable doing; for the pleasure of men. And not just the big moments that stand out in your memory. The smaller ones too. Where you're called a "frigid bitch" for not wanting to send nudes. When you're called a "moody bitch" because you don't want to smile at a man that feels you owe him your attention. When I dance in a club, and men feel like they have the God-given right to touch my arse because it "looks good" (I know it looks good, but I'm shaking it for my benefit; not yours). I couldn't even begin to count how many times I let experiences like this happen because I felt I owed it to men to smile, to be happy, to be what they wanted me to be. Ladies, we owe men nothing.

There's one particular moment that stands out for me. And I think it stands out so much because it wasn't just a man expecting something from me, but it involves women telling me I should feel lucky, and flattered. Looking back now, it makes me feel physically repulsed.

I had just turned 18 and was in the pub with some family members (who I no longer speak to - go figure). There was a Z-lister "celebrity" in there and he took a liking to me. I was young, and hadn't really been out much, but I could see that this person was married. After googling him in the bathroom, he also had children - and was definitely old enough to be my dad. He repeatedly offered to buy me drinks (which I refused), told me how beautiful I was, and was honestly just quite creepy.

I wasn't responding well to his advances - obviously. At one point, he tried to pull me onto his lap, and I completely stiffened as he touched parts of me that were not his. I was disgusted, and scared. The family members took me into the toilet and told me that I needed to "loosen up", and that I should feel "flattered" that this 40-something man liked me. Looking back now, of course he liked me! I was 18. I wasn't unattractive. Why should I feel flattered than a man old enough to be my dad finds me attractive? I left that bathroom feeling like I had done something wrong, and spent the rest of the night talking to this man and then politely declining his request to have my number.

And these moments aren't just one-offs. These happen all the time. Some are much more significant than others, and leave an impression. But others pass by, and we don't even realise they've happened until we sit and think. I've been out for meals before and men have come and sat at my table whilst we're eating, and if I tell them to leave, I'm a "miserable bitch". No, I've come out to enjoy company with my friends - you are a harassing prick.

It's taken me 26 years to realise that part of my existence isn't to make men happy. And I don't owe them anything. And neither do you.




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