Dear Men Of Social Media

dearmen

 

 

 

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Dear Men of Social Media,

I need you to read to understand…not read to respond.

Recent events in my life have led me to take a more stringent set of protocols for how I engage with men on social media…primarily Twitter. I have had disturbing dealings with a man on social media as of late, and it is imperative good men understand what women need in order to feel safe. Because of my various dealings with unpleasant men on Twitter and other online platforms, I have a more discriminating eye as to whom I engage with in a private matter. This is my choice and should be respected.

Some things I have noticed…

A growing pattern involving repeated observations shows certain sorts of men on Twitter only want to engage in direct/private messages as opposed to openly on the timeline.While this in itself is harmless, there is a significant pattern of unpleasant/predatory/deceitful men who deal in this way. They hide their interactions with other women and keep their public timeline quite generic or only engage with who is seemingly a significant other…in some cases, they don’t have a significant other but want to cast a net out to find potential women to add to a “collection”.

It is difficult to initially determine whether or not a man is an abusive or predatory sort. So, I politely and honestly try to give insight as to why it is bothersome to only engage in a private message situation with men I do not really know.

My explanation is meant to give insight in how to make me feel safer…not insult, berate, or accuse anyone of anything.

When I explain I have had unpleasant dealings with such men in the past, a portion of these men take it personally, say they won’t talk to me again, and/or seem to be offended. This is not helpful in helping me assess if a man is of questionable motive.

I do understand this is frustrating for the good men of social media who feel they are getting the short end of the stick, are being punished for the behavior of others, and/or feel angry that women are subjected to this daily.

Women absolutely recognize that the good men of social media are frustrated. We are frustrated too in that we have to constantly wonder if THIS ONE GUY is dangerous like THAT ONE GUY was.

Good men of social media, we need you to understand that NO ONE likes this. NO ONE wants to have to wonder if you are the one who is going to hurt us…again.

What we do need is for you to help us feel safe. If you are worth your salt, you will allow us a safe space to learn about you and trust you.

We want to talk to you (unless we say otherwise). We want to make new friends (unless we disclose we aren’t expanding our circle).

We need you to understand this IS NOT personal. We are doing what we can to protect ourselves because we live in a society that does little to protect us.

Whether private messages upset us, constant mentions, overly exuberant behavior over our posts, etc… Listen to understand what makes us uncomfortable. It is highly individual and can vary with each woman. It is not meant to insult you. We are telling you how to make us feel safe. If you are interested in us, you will rise to the request and offer us reassurance we are safe.

Thank You For Reading,

Ms M x

The Female Life Experience

 

Please read to understand what it means to be female in this society…

I often encounter men who have NO CLUE why I am as cautious, questioning, a bit anxious about certain topics, or hesitant to progress with them. There are many reasons why. I promise you, I am not alone in my female experience

“Modern men” need to gain an understanding about what the female life experience is.

What is this experience? Let me sum it up for you…I will try to be brief…

I have beauty standards, motherhood, and domesticity pushed upon in at an early age of 2-3 years old in the form of gender based toys…fake makeup, dolls, toy kitchens, barbies…

I will be made fun of by peers if I want anything that boys would want (microscopes, chemistry sets, lasers, anything not girl).

I am told to smile because it makes my face prettier.

I am dressed in clothing that would make me a pretty girl.

I am sexualized by the time I am 12…because my body changes into more of a shape that makes me “attractive” to men…larger breasts…hips widen.

I have boys offer sexual favors by the time I am 13.

Street harassment starts and is consistent throughout my life.

Once I become a teenager in high school, I have already been called various derogatory terms for a sexual woman because my body looks like a woman.

Family members tell me how I’m all grown up…How pretty I am…Boys are evil and should keep away or grandpa will shoot them with his rifle. Grown men at church pay more attention to me and find reasons to hug me.

Boys at school start false rumors about my sexuality because they are attracted to me and “boys will be boys.”

I start college and am required to take a defense course because women in this trade are assaulted regularly.

I am stalked 3 times by boys. A few family members tell me it’s because I’m so pretty.

One of the boys sexually assaults me at a club when I am 19…not raped, fortunately.

One stalker forced me to move in with my grandparents so he could no longer find me.

I do not report anything because I am afraid and think this is my fault because I must have given off the wrong signals. Shame on me.

I say nothing to my family because I can’t bear to be blamed for this.

I’ve been conditioned to self loathe my body because I am not a supermodel. Eating disorders start as well as reckless exercise.

Street harassment as well as sexist and misogynistic comments do not cease.

At 21, I work for a man who keeps porn on his computer and magazines in his desk. He has business ties with local strip club owners. He encourages me to sell to them (I do as it’s my job) as well as work for them (I decline). Even received phone calls from the head of all the chains asking me to join him.

I later become a DJ and play at fraternity parties getting regularly harassed by drunk men.

My agent wants to engage in sexual relations with me. I decline. He takes a bigger cut than what he takes from the males.

I could give endless examples of more of the same…

Fast forward to re entering university…I am regularly harassed by a boy in my science classes. He tells me the sexual things he wants to do to me. It took me humiliating him to get hi to leave me alone. I saw him on campus the other day…he had found my dating profile as well as my FB. Tried to get me to go out with him again. I had to block him across the board to get him to leave me alone.

I get told science is hard and that I am girl…then denied letter of recommendation to enter grad school by a male professor of whom I did a year’s worth of undergrad research with.

Dating sites, I get bombarded by messages from men who want to take from me. They are explicit in nature…few are actually well thought out and polite. They hide behind the cloak of anonymity that the internet provides.

Social media, I get unsolicited penis pics sent to me. I have rude and explicit direct messages as well as public mentions. I am slut shamed. Yet if I don’t comply, I am a prude.

Street harassment does not stop…sometimes wearing headphones doesn’t work either, because some men ignore this subtle cue of a request to leave me alone.

I am once again sexually assaulted by a different man I trusted.

I am stalked again…this time digitally on social media and harassed via email and phone. It affects my work, and I have to notify my boss about it. Fortunately he is understanding and gives support.

Why am I telling you this? Because every 109 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. 90% of those people are female. 1 in 6 women are sexually assaulted. Only 6 in 1,000 people will serve time for sexual assault. This is based on those who reported…I did not report. I can not fathom how much larger this number is.

Statistics: RAINN

So again, why am I telling you this? Because I am not the only woman this happens to. When you are at a party/work/bar, take a look around…1 in 6 women are me…but truthfully? That number is likely much larger. When you talk to women, you need to realize the scope of their possible life. I promise you, my story is a common one for many women.

They don’t speak out…why?

  1. They don’t see the point. (No one really goes to prison)
  2. They’ve been conditioned not to and to self blame.
  3. They don’t want to be shamed.
  4. They don’t want you to judge them.
  5. They don’t want to hurt others (family, current partner).

Men…remember this when speaking to women. They’ve been at battle their whole lives for just being female. Do not take things personally.

Read to understand…speak out against those who harm us…give us a space so we can be vocal without fear.

Thank you for reading

M x

Why They Get Away With It

In the past few years of being open and poly, I have found an influx of predatory behavior among men who want to take from me. I have experienced predatory behavior most of my life…I walk down the street and get hollered at by men…get an onslaught of sexual harassment online…harassed at university in a male dominated department…being assaulted at 19 (not raped)…last summer being raped by a Dom who broke my limits…and more recently a manipulative man who lied about who he actually is (for a year and a half)…yet wanted me to fall into line with a false reality so he could have his cake and eat it too. I did not report my assaults (I will get into why), but I did “out” the most recent predator in an effort to raise awareness about his in person and online disconcerting behaviors…

Let me be very clear….
This post is not focusing on what happened to me or to reopen wounds involving my experiences with these men. I am not interested in rehashing a debate of events. I have said all I need to say on the matter and I’ve moved on. I only want to discuss why men like this get away with such behavior from a societal perspective. 

Let’s talk about comments and response…

Last summer, a societal example…

I walk down the street and get openly harassed by a man who proceeds to yell out profanities at me of all the sexual things he wants to do to me. People (men and women) walk by and ignore his verbal sexual attacks on me. I stop, turn around, and yell at him “FUCK YOU I DON’T WANT YOUR NASTY ASS!” Only THEN do people stop and give ME a shocked look. The man went from sexual advances to calling me a bitch and threatening me. A couple paused and looked at me like I was nuts. An armed security guard looked up from his phone as I continued to walk to my car.

We have been conditioned to accept that men are going to yell profanities at women. However, when women speak up, we are scrutinized…this is “the norm”.

Most of the comments (in person and online) I receive about predatory behavior I have been a victim of have been in support of me…A solid amount of care and support! I am truly grateful and humbled by those who stand in support and give care. Thank you.

Some observations and thoughts with the various experiences I have had over the past few years…

The support starts out strong/overwhelming and slowly dwindles (with some) as time goes on. I understand some people get tired of discussing the same issues…but what I have found is a few people find it a bit inconvenient that it takes more than a few days to expose a person for being potentially dangerous in an adult oriented community. The bells sound, horns blown, and flags are waved…then when it comes time to ask support, it dies out with some. A few get tired…start calling it names, “drama”, “trouble making”, “shit stirring”, etc… They don’t mean to do so, but this indirectly incites some support for the predator.

Now, I want it clear I’m not blaming these individuals for indirectly giving support. I certainly don’t think they mean to do so…this is what society’s “norm” has come to expect. This is a societal issue, not individual. Yet, change can only come on starting at the individual level.

This topic…It’s uncomfortable. It’s not fun. No one likes it. Let’s stop talking about it because it makes us feel bad. This is the normal response we have to such topics. We can not (nor should we) place blame on people for feeling this way.

Here’s the thing, though…the predator depends on this response.

It is in the predator’s best interest that no one ever talk about this ever again…so the predator gets to continue on hurting others.

Some comments are malicious blaming people for acting when they were under manipulation/preyed upon. The issue with this is that it shifts blame from the predator. People act according to what they know to be true. Blaming the victim for actions incited by a predator/manipulator diverts attention from the issue…a potentially dangerous person is active and working to continue what he enjoys. It rings similarly to the harmful idea, “Why do you stay with him if he hurts you? You should know better than that!” If you are actively being manipulated into thinking others are abusive/damaging/lying, and the person you are with (you truly believe) is none of these things…how else can one possibly react? Reality is distorted intentionally by the predator/abuser.

Blaming the victim enables the predator and relieves him of some responsibility.

What could happen to women if they speak up?

I’ll address this in a form of a list…I will say both men and women engage in this behavior

  1. Revenge Porn– the predator could release pictures on the internet that damage a woman in regards to employment, family, etc. While this is illegal, it still does damage. Why? Women are still not allowed to be sexual beings, nor are they allowed by society to send pictures to people without being told they should know better than putting their face in such pics.
  2. Victim Shaming – Being shamed for being sexual or engaging in sexual activities. (going hand in hand with 1 and 3)
  3. Victim Blaming – No woman wants to be told she deserved what happened to her because she wasn’t smart enough, drank alcohol, dressed too sexy, walked down a dark street, blamed for sending pics to someone they trusted, was alone with a man she thought she trusted…it’s not helpful. It’s incredibly damaging and why I did not report my sexual assaults. I did not want to be drug through the mud and risk being permanently marked with shame.
  4. Gossip – Coincides with victim blaming. Rather than look at the facts, some prefer to gossip and engage quietly creating a hostile environment for victims of predatory behavior.
  5. Harassment – Victims can and will be harassed (and/or threatened) by the predators, supporters of the predators, and friends of the predators in order to keep them silent. I have experienced such harassment. It is time consuming (because of legal actions), it can be alarming/worrying, and exhausting having to dodge such behavior daily.

What happens to predators when women speak up?

  1. Tagged – They become tagged as a potential threat. It is at this time the predator starts to institute actions that he hopes the public will quietly concede on to divert attention from what the victim is saying.
  2. Temporary fallout – Predator loses clout and reputation, but can rebuild once people stop talking about it…hence it being temporary.
  3. Sympathy – Some people will question the victim and think she is being overly emotional, misjudged him, got the facts wrong, is a trouble maker, and/or is pushy or a bully for causing such drama. This is such a common behavior towards victims, the predator banks on this reaction hoping the blame shifts to the victim.
  4. Relationships – His relationships could be damaged, especially if there is a family involved. This is where the predator starts instituting the 5 things women risk when they speak up. He bets on society to protect and help him destroy the victim. 
  5. Nothing – Ultimately this is where it goes. The predator loses a few months or so (depending on how serious the behavior is) of interactions with women and continues on doing what he was doing…all of it being an unfortunate nuisance for him…he can go elsewhere and start over.

It is far easier for women to stay silent than to speak up because our society protects predators…even if unintentional. There is an imbalance.

So, what can we do? We need to resolve these questions…

  1. How can we continue to talk about this without tiring people or making them feel awful?
  2. How can we shift society into accepting that women are sexual beings?
  3. How can we make the environment more hostile for predators?
  4. How can we empower women to speak up and prevent damage/shaming from happening to them?
  5. How can we shift from accepting that men will harass women because that is “the norm”?

There is no one, easy answer for any of this…nor is it going to be fixed in a day, month, year…However, the underlying resolutions will only come from open dialogue…communication. Let’s talk about things…open a discussion and work to help everyone find resolutions in a way that allows expression of feelings and ideas based with facts.

I leave you with this quote from Patricia Hill Collins…

“Oppressed groups are frequently placed in the situation of being listened to only if we frame our ideas in the language that is familiar to and comfortable for a dominant group. This requirement often changes the meaning of our ideas and works to elevate the ideas of dominant groups.”

Thank you for reading.

M x