I’ve been writing this one for a few days, so excuse the tardiness in posting. This should have been published earlier in the week, but it’s an important topic, and I wanted to give it the time it deserved. And honestly, drawing out the conversation a little doesn’t hurt a damn thing in this case.
Last week a 22 year old man named Elliot Rodger killed 6 people. He left behind videos and a very long manifesto explaining his reasoning. He tried to rationalize why he felt it was okay to kill these people. Do you know the reason? By now you probably do, but just in case you don’t, here it is:
He was a virgin. No woman would sleep with him. And he deserved to be pleasured. All men deserve it, ladies, but especially him. He was an attractive, well read, eurasian male from a good family. He deserved our bodies.
So, when he didn’t get what he desired, he decided to punish all of us. Of course, he couldn’t kill every woman in the entire world you know, but he was going to get as many as he could. And if he had it his way we’d all be starved to death. If you haven’t read his manifesto (I read a good portion of it) and you think you can handle it go ahead. It’s out there for the world to see.
Here’s the thing.
Every day when I leave work I get my keys in my hand before I leave my office. I go out through a door that’s in an alley. The first thing I do is check to see whether or not anyone else is in the alley. If there is and it’s a man, I keep my head slightly turned in his direction to watch him. If he starts running toward me, I will start running and screaming. I will get to the front of my building where the security kiosk is and get help. If I am alone in the alley, I will still grip my keys like a weapon and check behind me every few steps until I get to the door that has a prox card reader that lets me into my parking area. I always pull that door shut behind me. Even though no one is supposed to get in there without a prox card, I don’t relax until I’m in my car and have locked the doors, which I do every time immediately before I turn on the car. I check my backseat. I make sure I am safe.
Does that sound familiar? Here’s the next thing.
My house has a courtyard you have to walk through before you get to the front door. It’s a lovely, walled in space that anyone can get into. There is a garden gate into it-not a lock and key. It is the perfect place for someone to hide if they wanted to attack me on my way to my front door. Every day when I get home, I look into the courtyard, and if it’s dark I use a flashlight on my phone to check around, and make sure no one is there. I then quickly walk to my front door and get inside. I lock it, both on the knob and the deadbolt. And now we have a security system, and I set that once I’m inside as well. I make sure I am safe.
Still with me? Here’s another thing.
If I order pizza and I’m home alone, my big black labrador comes to the door with me. Even though I’d rather strip down to pajama shorts and a tank top, I always make sure I’m still fully dressed when the pizza man comes. I make sure I am safe.
I make sure I am safe. Safe from men.
Not all men, but men.
Why do I have to do this? I do it not even subconsciously. I am VERY aware of protecting myself at all times. It’s not a habit, it’s a conscious choice.
Right before Chief and I started dating, an old male friend of mine came to visit me. At the time I was living alone, and he had stayed with me before. We had had an on again off again thing for a while. It was long distance-it didn’t work out. But we stayed good friends. That last visit he apparently thought that not only were we going to get back together (even though I had told him that I was about to start seeing Chief), but that we would sleep together, just because we had slept together before.
I rebuffed him. Told him no. Led his wandering hands elsewhere, and made it VERY CLEAR that I was only interested in us being friends. We had been best friends. I didn’t want to lose that. And if it had ended there we would still be friends. If he had listened to me say no the first time it would have been fine.
But he didn’t. The entire weekend I was fending him off. Pushing him off of me. Taking his hands out of my shirt. I’m sure he thought it was hot, but it wasn’t. It was uncomfortable and it got to the point of being scary. So scary that I turned our plan that evening of just having dinner together into having dinner with some friends of mine, one who was a good man and could see what was going on. He didn’t want to let me go back to my apartment with him. I told him I would be fine and that I could handle it, but I would call him if I couldn’t.
And my visitor persisted with his attempts. And it actually got to the point that I basically gave in and stopped fighting. I was ready to just let it happen and be done with it. And when I stopped fighting he said “Wait, what are you doing? And I said, “You’re stronger than me. I’m not going to win this. I’m giving up.”
And that’s when he stopped. That’s when he realized what a monster he was being. When he left the next day he said “Can you not tell your friends what happened?” And I said “Yeah, sure” just to get him away from me. But I told them. And I’m telling you. He was my best friend. I’d known him for years at that point. I never would have believed him capable of that. That was the last day I spoke to him. And that was the first day that I really started to doubt men in general. That I became skeptical about them. That I wondered who I could really trust. Who would hurt me and who wouldn’t. Who would go the extra mile and be willing to protect me if need be.
And that’s why I married Chief, because he is that man. The first time he kissed me he wouldn’t actually touch me, more than putting his hands on my arms. And it stayed that way until I was ready to take it further. He never pushed-EVER. Still doesn’t. There is never any pressure, even a little bit.
It is not all men. Clearly. But it is men. And something has to change.
And yes, it is all women.