I photographed a wedding this weekend and as the patriarchal tradition goes, the bride was given away by her father for another man’s belonging. A trade.
I was waiting for a bus once and my silence was interrupted by a young man escorting a young woman down the sidewalk yelling to her a monologue that was something like, “Why in the hell are you so stupid?! I told you you better not come up out of the house, etc, etc.”
Many times when I’m being hit on (Have you ever noticed how violent the phrase “hit on” sounds?), I’m asked if I belong to someone: “You got a boyfriend?” “You married, single?” I was eating lunch with my mother about a month ago and a man who was checking on tables there sat beside me, looked at my mother and said something along the lines of, “I’m sorry for interrupting, but I think your daughter is very attractive.” My owner was honored with the gift of eye contact as I was being discussed as one discusses an object of interest to a salesperson.
When I walked down the street in my neighborhood in Houston unaccompanied by my male housemate, I was offered rides by strange men and my body was a forum where they would comment freely; “Damn girl, you’ve got some big thighs”, “Hey baby, you lookin’ good today”. I had a conversation with one of these men once. It went, “You need a ride?”, “No”, “Fuck you, bitch.”
Much of my family’s oral tradition focuses around how this sister escaped that husband’s abuse, how this step-father molested that niece, how that auntie was sat on and cut across her face so no other man would want her. But there’s a story that’s been passed down in my family that tells of my great, great grandmother surviving a tsunami that hit Hawaii many years before I was born or my mother was born or my grandmother was born. It’s a very short story, as many stories of strong women are, but it’s one of the only empowering stories about a woman in my family.
Apparently when great, great grandmother so-and-so realized that the wave was approaching, she gathered all of her chicks into her apron and held onto a palm tree that was rooted in her yard. She survived.
This is beautiful.
I’m tired of talking about feminism to men.
I’m tired of explaining to men that the feminist movement will, in fact, benefit them as well as women. I’m tired of trying to hawk gender equality like I’m some kind of car salesman showing off a shiny new sedan, explaining all of its bells and whistles. I’m tired of smiling through a thousand thoughtless microaggressions, tired of providing countless pieces of evidence, tired of being questioned on every. Single. Damn. Thing.I’m tired of proving that microaggressions exist, tired of proving that I’m unfairly questioned and asked for proof. For a movement that’s centered around the advancement and empowerment of women, why do I feel like I’m supposed to spend so damn much of my time carefully considering how what I say and do will be taken by men?
I’m tired of men who insert themselves into feminist spaces with claims of hurt feelings. I’m tired of men who somehow manage to make every issue about them. I’m tired of men like the one who recently stopped by a friend’s Facebook thread in order to call feminism “c*nty”, then lecture the women involved for being too “hostile” in their responses to him. I’m tired of men telling me that my understanding of feminism and rape culture are wrong, as if these aren’t things that I have studied intensely. I’m tired of men who claim to be feminist allies, then abuse that position to their own advantage. I’m so fucking exhausted by the fact that I know that I will have to, at some point in this piece, mention that I understand that not all men are like that. I will have to note that some men are good allies. And all of those things are true! And all of you good allies get cookies! But honestly,I’m tired of handing out cookies to people just because they’re decent fucking human beings.
Source: Flickr / mrjoro