You know, the only thing that I have to worry about when going out on a first date is whether the girl looks like her picture, or if I have my fly up. At worst, if it doesn’t work out, I’ll be slightly embarrassed, out a couple dollars, and it gives me something to write about here.
Worst case scenario on a first date for a girl? She gets raped and murdered.
That right there encapsulates male privilege. Never once, not even for a moment in the back of my head have I ever feared for my life on a date. Not once did I ever feel like something would happen to me if I tried to leave, that something was expected of me, or was I threatened because I didn’t acquiesce to sexual advances. What’s maddening is that nearly every woman or girl I know has experienced this at one time or another. I don’t know the words to use to express the rage that I feel at this. It’s inexcusable, and I’m just done.
I’m lucky enough to have a lot of amazing women in my life, and every time I hear about the things they have to go through, I’m furious, and yet I’m helpless. I know that it’s incredibly nearsighted of me to only be triggered when it’s someone that I know, but as much as I understand it in the abstract, there is another level when it hits home. My first instinct is incredibly patriarchal and that’s to protect them, to worry about them. Yes, there are so many of them but simply put, that’s not the problem. The problem isn’t me having too many women that I have to worry about, it’s the fucking fact that I have to worry at all.
Women deal with countless amounts of microaggressions on any given day. They’re told to smile so they’ll look prettier, they’re expected to say ‘hello’ back if some guy tries to make small talk, amongst a myriad number of other bullshit. The correct and most appropriate response is a loud and assertive “Go Fuck Yourself”, but this is somehow so shocking that they’re called bitches or even worse, the men get violent.
I abhor violence. I’m not some pacifist who believes that there is a non-violent solution to everything, but violence used for coercion is anathema to me. That’s what this whole problem is, it’s a matter of coercion by violence, or implied violence. I don’t understand why it’s “don’t get raped” instead of “don’t rape”. How in the fuck do you fix a whole culture?
I’ll be the first to say that I’m no saint. I’m more than sure that I’ve done some shitty things in my lifetime, but I’ve never ever laid hands on a woman. Here’s the thing though, in the deepest, darkest, corner of my mind, I understand where the impulse comes from. I’ve been stood up on dates, mocked, or somehow suffered some sort of humiliation from women at one time or another. In that moment, you feel shame, impotence, and rage. All you want to do is not feel that way, as quickly as possible, or just to inflict pain to those who caused it.
And it’s in that moment where you prove your worth as a man.
To deny those impulses is to deny shame and rage control over your actions. Some may call it cowardice, but I can assure you that there is no courage in giving into those emotions. To hold your tongue and your hand, to not give into violence is to see whether a man can put aside his pride and ego, to put the well-being of others before himself, and to understand that even if you’ve been wronged, that does not justify another wrong in return. No one will give you an award for doing it and women will not let it be known that you’re a good guy. There’s no reward, but for the ability to look in the mirror and be able to respect the man looking back.
I know that this isn’t some groundbreaking treatise, and that what I’m saying has been said many times over, but you reach a breaking point. This is my personal line in the sand.
There is a scene from ‘Game of Thrones’ which poignantly sums up the situation:
The look on their faces at the end says it all, because the truth cuts deep.