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

“I’m a good girl. Please…”

I am going a bit off my usual misadventures of recent times to discuss an event in my life that is relevant to recent discussion involving victim blaming in sexual assault and acts of rape. The victims never are “asking for it” by wearing heels or suggestive clothing. My assault? I was wearing jean shorts, a tank top, and sneakers….Here is my story…

It was summertime…I was 19 and a virgin…

I worked at a shopping mall at a formal wear store. I enjoyed my job. I steadily became familiar with other people in the mall and the stores where they worked. There was a clothing store 2 doors down from me that sold stylish clothing of the current styles. Some were “night club” style clothes. I would frequent this store and buy nice work clothes there. From time to time I’d play around with trying on the sexier night club style outfits. A boy (appx. 21) worked there and would help me coordinate my wardrobe. Sometimes he would pick out a sexier dress and ask me to try it on to see if I liked it. I was 19, a virgin, shy and quite naive. However, I knew what he was doing. I would smile and decline a bit flattered at his attention. I would then leave the store…

I never spoke to this boy outside of the store where he worked. I would sometimes see him at the food court but we would just smile…nothing more.

I enjoyed going to nightclubs. My mother did not like me going and often I would lie to her saying that I was just staying with a friend and going to the movies. She was afraid that I would experience that sexual assault scene at a night club from the film THELMA AND LOUISE. She made this plain to me on a regular basis. She felt that nightclubs were meat markets and I would get preyed upon and hurt. To be fair, my mother was always over protective of me. I saw this as another example.

I frequented a local club because usually I could just go to dance and most of the time people left me alone. Being a dancer, this was really the main reason I went to dance clubs. I never went alone and was always with a friend. This evening was no exception.

I arrive to the club. The boy from the store was there chatting up a girl and he starts to watch me dance.

I paid him no attention…

He came up to me when I left the dance floor to get a soda. He said hello and asked if he could talk to me. I agreed. He said that the club was too loud and he knew of a place in the club that would be a bit quieter.

I follow him to a room that had been raided by police earlier for people smoking illegal substances. He said it would be ok to chat for a few minutes. I agreed and went with him into the room.

This moment…here…is where I blamed myself in all of this…I should have never been alone with him…I felt I should have known better.

I had no clue that he was dangerous. I worked 2 doors down from him in the same mall. I went to High School with his Assistant Manager…

We go into the room and sit on the couch on the far wall. There are 2 couches. One is on the back wall and the other is on the wall by the door. He tells me he is interested in me and likes me. I was young and inexperienced. I was flattered and suffered a bit of low self esteem.

He kissed me. I kissed him back. He started to grope my body. I pushed away. I said that I didn’t know him that well and this was moving a bit fast for me. He persisted and started to kiss me again and continued to grope me. I pushed away, got up and started to head for the door.

He had locked the door…

Albeit it was locked from the inside, but it was a bit dark and I struggled with the lock…I failed to get it open in time…

He grabbed me and slammed me up against the wall. I struggled to get away from him, but he was far stronger than me. The music outside the room was so loud, no one could hear our struggle.

He started to kiss me with more ferocity. His hands were now going under my shirt and into my shorts. I pushed and tried to force him off of me to no avail. I was not going to break away from him.

My body felt cold. I was going into some kind of trauma induced shock. It was like I was leaving my body.

I defaulted to a calmer state and began to talk to him.

I said, “I’m a good girl. Please…this is all going a bit too fast for me. Maybe we could go out for coffee and a movie sometime. I know you like me. I like you. Let’s go out and see where things go.”

I say all this while he is trying to remove my clothes. He takes a step back for a second seemingly surprised by what I have said. I take this moment to race to the door.

He is fast and grabs me again…

This time he throws me onto the couch by the door with my legs draped over the arm rest pinning me down. He had not managed to remove my clothes yet, but had managed to thoroughly grope me.

I continued to calmly plead with him saying, “Please. This is too fast. I really like you, but this isn’t how I do things. I don’t think this is how you do things. You seem nice. I only know you from work. I’d to get to know you better before we go this far. Let’s go out and see what happens…please.”

He stops trying to remove my clothing and looks at me. He says, “Hurry up and go before I change my mind!”

He takes his weight off of me and I race to the door. I immediately find my friend. I watch him as he leaves that private room and hurries out of the club…I am still in shock as to what has happened to me. I am shaken, cold, and feeling out of my own body.

We leave the club and I tell her what happens. She asks if I should phone the police. I declined…

I did not report this because I was afraid…

I was afraid my mother would be angry and lecture me why she was right. I was afraid no one would believe me. It was my word against his. I felt it was my fault because I went with him into that room alone. And I was still in shock. I did not believe what happened actually happened to me…

While I did not report it, I did speak with the manager at his store. I had gone to High School with him and told him what had happened and what he had done when I shopped there. Whether or not he was fired, I’ve no clue…but the boy was no longer working there shortly thereafter.

That boy started stalking me. He would show up to places where I was. He would watch me work at the mall. I moved to another store at a different mall. A month later he started trying to get work in the same shopping mall at various clothing stores. I had already befriended many of the managers there and discreetly mentioned how he made ladies uncomfortable shopping there because of his suggestive behavior.

He never worked near me and I never saw him again…

I feel some guilt wondering if he has done this to other girls. Ultimately, I was lucky. I talked my way out of my own rape.

Even now all these years later I am in tears writing this remembering every moment…every sound…the bruises from his hands on my wrists…the disgust of his hands groping my body…feeling utterly helpless as I was pinned down pleading for him to stop…my body going cold…and all times I felt shaken and disturbed from triggers setting me back to my experience…

I did not ask to be assaulted and nearly raped. I was not suggestively dressed. He wanted me. It did not matter what I was wearing. It was not my fault.

Some will blame me for being naive and going into a room alone with him. I had no idea he was dangerous and it would not have been any different with a non-dangerous person having a chat in a quieter room. You take greater risks getting behind the wheel of a car than having a quiet chat with an acquaintance.

Final thoughts …

Blaming victims or saying that any woman can avoid being raped by not wearing heels or short skirts is ridiculous.

If someone is going to rape another person, they are going to try no matter what. They are going to do whatever it takes…and unfortunately these people do not wear “I Am A Rapist” signs.

I will not live my life in fear of being raped by not wearing heels or short skirts. I certainly will not blame myself for the evil of my attacker.

Thank You For Reading,

Melliscious xx