Dear Men of America:
I was raised to be a “good girl”, a kind and thoughtful person who expressed herself genteelly and never ever raised her voice in public. This has served me well, and in most cases has brought about good results. However, the rash of recent headlines from the Cat Calling video and the boorish misogynistic responses to it, to Rush Limbaugh saying (and then suing for being quoted as saying it) “how many of you guys…have learned that ‘no’ means ‘yes’ if you know how to spot it”, to the fact that 60% (or more) of the sexual assaults in this country go unreported and of those that are reported only 4% will lead to a conviction, has me mad. Boiling, raging, shout it from the rooftops mad!
This is not, as the oh, so charming gentleman on CNN put it, a question of women not understanding how men think. We don’t care what you think. We care that you listen to us and what we are saying is NO! No, we don’t want to walk down the street and be followed by suggestions of what you might like to do to us, or told to “smile”. No, we don’t like sitting near you in bars, restaurants, and trains and hear you discussing with your buddies which girl is hot, and how you’d like to “do” her in Technicolor gory details. No, we don’t want you to put your hands on us uninvited.
And when it comes to sex…No means exactly that. It is not a challenge to your skills of seduction. We are not looking to be “let off the hook”. These are tropes that need to lumber off the way of the dinosaurs. No means no means no means no. Say it with me now, no means no!
And please, spare me the excuse that what a woman was wearing. Gentlemen, YOU are responsible for your thoughts and actions not us. We are not the guardians of your moral purity and virtue, you are. If you can’t be trusted to control yourselves you are a danger to yourself and society and should not be allowed to roam freely about the world.
You must understand,there is a world of difference between a smile of greeting and an outright leer. Everyone, male or female, likes to be acknowledged, but there is a time and place and way. Compliment giving is truly a lost art. It must be sincere, given while looking the person in the eyes (not the boobs or the crotch), all the while maintaining personal space. It is devoid of lip smacking, rude gestures and lascivious sound effects. It is not screamed at a woman walking past and above all, it should be something that you should feel comfortable saying in front of your mother, grandmother, sister, girlfriend, wife or daughter. If it does not meet these criteria and the complimentee feels the need to flee to the nearest safe space you have not mastered this art. In fact, I suggest, you practice thousands of times on those you know before you try it out on an unsuspecting public. Mothers and grandmothers are especially good to practice on as their hand of justice tends to be swift and sure if you aren’t getting it right. Even then, bestowal of a compliment DOES NOT entitle you to anything.
Margaret Atwood said “Men’s greatest fear is that women will laugh at them, while woman’s greatest fear is that men will kill them”. I am angry because we are afraid. We are afraid because when we say no you do not listen. I do not hate men, I have a husband and a son whom I love dearly and have made my life wonderfully rich. What I hate is that when women speak to issues of our personal physical and mental health and safety there is an immediate tsunami of justification as to why we can’t possibly mean what we say. There really is no doubt about what women want in this area. We want to be able to walk down the street unmolested and be heard unequivocally when we say no. It ain’t rocket science guys, just good manners.