I’m lucky. A very lucky woman. But the reason I feel lucky is NOT good. This is going to be a feminist blog post, so if there are any misogynist men here that can’t handle it, they should probably leave.
I’m lucky because I never knew how badly we needed feminism until recently. When I say recently I mean within my twenties, the last 8 years or so. I always knew feminism was a thing and women still fought for power in the workplace, but that’s not something I concerned myself with as a child and teenager.
I’ve always been a very girly girl. And that means I’ve never experienced anyone judging me for not conforming to my sex/gender. I never noticed a lack of other options for girls when it came to toys and activities because the ones I liked were available. But when you look at girls who aren’t interested in pink and Barbie dolls, but more interested in Hot Wheels and soccer, they had things a little tougher. They had to go to the boy’s section of the toy store to find their Hot Wheels. They had to constantly be told they are a tomboy, which is a very silly phrase to me because they are a girl. And they had to deal with people’s comments about how not girly they are.
Rape culture was a completely foreign topic to me. I knew that rapes occurred. But I always thought of them as the same as any other crime. The bad guy did something, the bad guy gets punished. And unfortunately, sometimes the bad guy gets away.
I never felt personally like my body was owned by any man and I never felt like any man thought he owned my body. I never realized it was such an issue that many women face.
I know this show gets a lot of negative reviews because of the outdated ways in which they talk about topics like, sexuality and mental health, but Friends was one of the shows that I can say helped shape me into who I am. I started watching it when I was a kid. I didn’t understand a lot of the sexual references until I was older though.
When I saw Joey and Chandler being rejected by women, and Chandler being nervous about speaking to women, I always had this idea in my head that women had the upper hand. Women get to decide when we go out with a man, and if we want to have sex with him. And that a man should feel privileged to get me, or the woman he is pursuing. I know a lot of people say Joey was a womanizer. And yes he very much was in a way, but it was still always on the woman’s terms. He was never crude about women and was very respectful when with them. He was successful with women because of his charm and charisma, not being he forced himself on them or felt entitled to them.
When I was starting high school, my mom once told me that I should never act dumb to attract a boy. She told me that a lot of girls do that to attract boys. I remember my initial thought being, “why would I want him to think I’m dumb, I’m smart and I would want him to know.” But as I started going through my teen years and interacting with the boys and watching all of the popular movies I started to see how women are portrayed in the media and how women are looked at as the weaker and dumber sex. But I still knew of a lot of successful women and I was determined to be one of those and I knew it could be done and I still didn’t put much thought into it.
I remember hearing a lot about men being in the “friend zone”. It was always expressed in a way that portrayed the woman as the evil one for not dating the nice boy, and instead choosing to be friends with him. I always thought that it made sense. This poor guy is being so nice to her and she doesn’t want him as a boyfriend, what a bitch! But when you think about it, why are we villainizing a woman who sees a man as a friend, and why aren’t we asking the man “why don’t you tell her how you feel?” Believe it or not, women are not, mind readers. The ones that you think are being so horrible for putting you in the friend zone probably have no idea that you want more, and maybe if you told her she might. But, (and this is a big but!) if she doesn’t want more, that is her choice, and she has every right to it. Just because you are nice to someone doesn’t mean they owe you anything. You should be nice to someone for the sake of being nice and being a good person as opposed to seeing what you can get out of it.
When I was in college, I started learning more about feminism and rape culture. I began to feel a little nervous around men when I would go out to dance clubs. I would have a good time, but even intoxicated I had a small part of my brain that was keeping track of what the guy I was dancing with was doing, and I never let any of them buy me a drink. I always thought it was sort of normal that men put their hands on women while dancing at the club but looking back there are a few instances where I was touched without consent and I didn’t like it. I felt a little violated, but I brushed it off because I thought of it as “normal” and that I would be seen us “uptight” if I got upset about it. Looking back and realizing what these men did, made me wish I could go back and tell them off because I will not put up with that anymore!
But I am lucky. I shouldn’t be. It is not right that I feel lucky. I feel lucky that I’ve never been raped, I feel lucky that the worst harassment I’ve ever faced at a bar was a slap on the butt and a forced kiss. I’m lucky that no one ever drugged a drink of mine, and I’m lucky that I met a wonderful man and got out of the dating scene because women are being treated horribly in the dating world, especially online.
I should not feel lucky about these things. I should not feel glad that only a little harassment has come my way. No one ever walks around saying “I’m so glad I haven’t been mugged in my life I’m so lucky” or “I’m so lucky no one has ever broken into my house.” Yes, its great that these things never happened to you, but you don’t see them as something that happens so often that you really feel lucky it hasn’t happened.
Society needs to teach boys and men that they are not entitled to a woman. They need to learn to respect everyone and to respect themselves. Men, listen closely! If a woman doesn’t want to be with you, she’s not for you! Find someone else, someone who wants to and will enjoy being with you.
My hope is that future generations of girls/women will not have the same experiences as women have in the past and still do today. Progress is being made, and that is wonderful, but we can still work faster. Ask yourself what you can do to help move society forward, and let’s work together to make a better future for everybody.