• Mel Jones

Being a Woman in the Real World

Dear James Walters (and other smarmy men like him),

I know so many men with good hearts and generous minds. But as Donny Osmond said, so many years ago, one bad apple…

I’ve met lots of bad apples of the male persuasion. Lots. And I’m so done. Over it. And so are most other women. So, stop it; just because you have a dick doesn’t mean you should be a dick, just sayin’.

By the time a girl is fourteen, she knows what men think about her. She’s too shy. Too outgoing. Too heavy, Too thin. Too tomboy-ish. Too girly. Not girly enough. She’s pretty. She’s ugly. She looks “sweet and innocent” (in a very sexualized, creepy, bordering on pedophile sort of way), or she looks too grown up. She’s always too much or not enough for men.

By the time she’s twenty-five, she should be a mother, but still sexy (wiping baby puke off her shirt), or she should have a career—but not spend any less time with her children. She should stay home with her kids and not put them in daycare, but she should work full time. She should lose that baby weight, gain some weight, put on some makeup, not wear so much makeup.

And for god’s sake smile.

She shouldn’t have opinions or be outspoken. She should understand who’s boss.

She should always be sexually available and look alluring to her significant other —but not look sexy for other men, ever. But she should always look sexy, not sure exactly how that works. She should be a cougar but demurring. She should cut her hair. She should grow it out. At some point, she becomes too old for glitter, but she apparently never outgrows the need for other people’s shoulds.

By the time a woman is in her thirties, she is aware that people think she’s pretty (or not). She’s aware, because men push into her bubble, and tell her exactly which parts these strangers find appealing enough to comment about. She has been catcalled (for perceived beauty, or lack thereof). She has been touched inappropriately “by accident” in crowded subways and elevators. Strangers have hugged too close and too long. People, men who are strangers to her, have touched her hair, her waist, her face, and her butt without permission. She has been cornered into conversations at work, at the grocery store, department stores, in parking lots. In my experience, these men feel entitled to approach women they don’t know and comment on them, touch them, move into their personal space. You want to know what that’s called?

Privilege, that’s what.

If you send a woman a Facebook friend request, and then immediately upon her acceptance, send her a message that says “Hi, pretty.” What you are saying to her is I sexualized you before I ever met you and I am entitled to tell you I find you attractive whether you show any interest or not. That is creepy as fuck. If she responds saying, that she hasn’t asked you for this attention, nor does she find it appealing… she perhaps uses words like Epic Fail… you should back the fuck up. But, since you’re a man, filled with your privilege, you think, oh, she’s responded, that’s my cue to continue to send her messages. No. She doesn’t know you. She is under no obligation to interact with you privately. None. Why is she quiet? Because she doesn’t know you, doesn’t want your unsolicited attention. Why is she silent? Perhaps she is weighing her options: is he a stalker? A rapist? A murderer? Women are under no obligation to pander to your ego. End of discussion.

End. Of. Discussion.

I am under no obligation to explain myself to anyone, least of all a random man on Facebook. What makes me sad about having to write this is I have many Facebook friendships with men. Men who rock. Men who know where to draw the line. Men who see women as their equals. Men with whom I can jest without being concerned about them stalking me. You could take lessons from them. Men who are feminists. I won’t change the way I live and interact with them because you are a misogynist SOB.

Please try to join us here in the twenty-first century. Women are not your playthings and you are NOT invited to make commentary on their lives.

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