“Ahh the good ol feminist…Love to blast bitches like yourself. In the sack and in debates…More so in the sack though”
“Wow. Do you know how harmful you are? Did I bruise your quivering ego cause I didn’t respond? That you have to assert yourself? …Reported”
This conversation followed a two day lag in my response to “Hey :)”, during which time I also added to my dating app profile that I am a feminist, and I use reusable shopping bags…clearly things worthy of being blasted… in bed and in debates. *eyeroll* Moments after my response, he deleted me. I like to think he was banned from the site but chances are he wasn’t.
A few days later, I was hanging out with some friends, and this “joke” made it way into the conversation somehow…
“What do you tell a woman with two black eyes”
Uncomfortable silence ensued. Another friend said “I don’t think I want to hear the answer”
“Nothing, you’ve already told her twice”
Same friend said “Yup, didn’t want to hear that.”
I was appalled. My response was immediate, “That’s inappropriate”
The “jokesters” defence was that another friend (who was female) had been joking about men being castrated…a continuation of talking about her cat not having balls… He said “Well you were just talking about male castration”
My response.. “Male castration is not a social problem in our society…”
I left it there. I could have gone on to talk about the power differential between men and women and how despicable and harmful jokes around abusing women are.
READ THESE STATS and visit this site : http://www.canadianwomen.org/facts-about-violence
- Half of all women in Canada have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16.
- 67% of Canadians say they have personally known at least one woman who has experienced physical or sexual abuse.
- Approximately every six days, a woman in Canada is killed by her intimate partner. Out of the 83 police-reported intimate partner homicides in 2014, 67 of the victims—over 80%—were women.
- On any given night in Canada, 3,491 women and their 2,724 children sleep in shelters because it isn’t safe at home.
- On any given night, about 300 women and children are turned away because shelters are already full.
- There were 1,181 cases of missing or murdered Aboriginal women in Canada between 1980 and 2012, according to the RCMP. However, according to grassroots organizations and the Minister of the Status of Women the number is much higher, closer to 4,000.
- Aboriginal women are killed at six times the rate of non-aboriginal women.
These are but two examples of sexism that have occurred within the past week of my life. Some weeks it happens more often, some weeks less. Some weeks I don’t even notice it because it is so normalized.
I have a problem with the normalization of harmful topics. I have a problem with the cop out “It’s just a joke”. And I have a problem when nobody holds people accountable for their harmful comments. If you are reading this and you find yourself thinking “she needs to chill out, it really isn’t a big deal” then I urge you SO strongly to reflect on where that feeling is coming from. Is it out of defence for jokes you have made in the past, jokes you laugh at now?
Regardless of your reaction to my above comments, I encourage you to click on this link, http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/toula-foscolos/sexist-jokes-women_b_4815632.html which, among many other great points, brings to the readers attention “ A research project led by a Western Carolina University psychology professor indicates that exposure to sexist humour can lead to tolerance of hostile feelings and discrimination against women.”
I will take the label of “aggressive” any day, over letting harmful conversation exist in my presence. I will not sympathize with it, and I will hold the instigator accountable, whether it is a random creature off the internet, or a friend who I actually enjoy spending time with. Sometimes it is hard to hold people accountable, as it drives an automatic defensive response. Sometimes I fail. Rupi Kaur is a beautiful poet, she reminds her readers “If you were born with the weakness to fall, you were born with the strength to rise”.
So rise – I remind myself when I fall, when I fail to maintain integrity in my words and actions.
So rise – I remind myself when I witness harmful conversation.
So rise – I remind myself when I am informed of how my own behaviour may be harmful.
Self reflection is so important, and sometimes we need the encouragement of those around us to rise. Humility goes much farther than defence in such situations.
I will end with this well known saying…
Watch your thoughts, they become words,
Watch your words, they become actions,
Watch your actions, they become habit,
Watch your habits, they become character.
Until next time – love always and all ways,