I logged into my Meetup account today because apparently someone sent me a message. I didn’t recognize the name. It was from a man named Ben who is also a member of a nature group. I’ve never attended an event.
Ben thought it was imperative to tell me he thinks I’m looking good. He’s grey-haired, looks like he’s maybe in his 50s and is seated beside a woman who’s wearing a wedding ring and seems close to him. Maybe she’s his sister?
FYI – I look like I’m about 25.
I joined the group because I want to see trees. Not dicks. If I wanted to be looking at dicks instead of getting some wonderful fresh air, I’d be looking at dicks. It’s not all about dicks.
Women are people. Not objects of conquest, robots, blank slates, holes, brainless zombies standing around waiting to be interrupted by a perpetual teenager. When I’m waiting for the bus on a given day, I’m thinking about the errand I have to run after work, what to make for dinner, or that weird dream I had last night. All of those things are exponentially more important than what Mr. Macho Mouthbreather has on his mind. Nothing says “you’re my property” like assuming your intimate thoughts are important enough to spew to a woman you don’t know.
Of course, it’s about power – not attraction. Sometimes men feel the need to tell a woman that they don’t want to rape them. Like that’s supposed to make them sad.
Almost every day, another allegation surfaces of a powerful man who made a woman feel like garbage because he could. Far too often, a woman is assaulted by a strange man or (more likely) assaulted or killed by a male partner. We’ve gone too far now in mainstream culture to pretend that this is acceptable.
There are some issues that divide feminists. This isn’t one of them. There are two sides in this debate and they’re clear: either you’re committed to challenging male entitlement or you don’t value the lives of women. Call it what you want. Even if you’re watering it down as “sexual harassment” instead of male violence, it’s front and centre in the media now and there are just too many fed up women to let this go.
At around the same time I joined the nature group, I also joined a women’s hiking group. Everyone has been friendly and respectful. Some women met each other on hikes and are now dating. I’ve been an active member for months and have never gotten a creepy message.
To me, women’s spaces aren’t about avoiding men. They’re about connecting with people I feel safe around and realizing how much power women have when we get together.