(copied from Persephone Magazine)
It does not matter what you say. As a woman, as a woman of color, as a woman of size, as a woman with large breasts or no breasts and a lifetime of experience with bucketloads of passion. It does not fucking matter.*
Because unless there is a white guy backing you up, you are an angry bitch. Uppity, spirited, “that girl,” the femanazi, the super-libber, the PC chick, the conspiracy theorist…
A few months ago I posted something on a forum about how interesting it was that we only bomb brown countries. As Tom Wise suggested, perhaps it’s time we stop talking about how the war was for oil, and instead question why we feel we’d be entitled to that oil in the first fucking place.
Almost immediately, but just as predictably, I was hit with good old Reverse Racism. The Double R that gets pulled out whenever the privileged hear something they’d rather not. It is the equivalent of putting your hands over your ears and screaming, “La, la, la, fucking la,” until the other person gives up and walks away.
Even the site administrator called me a racist.
Then, another well-known poster there put on a clip of George Carlin ranting on how we only bomb brown countries (skip to the 2 minute mark if you’re interested in hearing it). And suddenly, it was as if God himself had shone through the clouds and crowned me righteous and worthy. The tides turned. All of a sudden everybody could “see the point” I was trying to make. All of a sudden I was no longer the nefarious reverse racist infiltrating white society only to destroy it. I was just sharing the same opinion as George Carlin. I was worth believing.
I decided that day not to post there anymore. At least not with them knowing my ethnicity and gender. But the problem hardly stays online.
Last night I had dinner with my ex-husband and a mutual male friend who is visiting Paris. Discussing Prop 8, the friend asks me, “Well, but you probably feel more comfortable around gays than straight men, don’t you?”
I say, “Of course I do. A majority of my time in a straight club is spent getting away from men grinding up on me as though they own me.”
Naturally he doubts my story. “It can’t be that bad, though?” My ex-husband, bless his bouncer past, promptly sets him straight. He tells him how I used to go to his club all the time and he had to assist me more than once when men became predatorial on the dance floor.
And as soon as my ex mentions this, the man shuts up. It is not enough to take my word for it. Never mind that I’ve been hanging out in my post-puberty body for a fair amount of time now. I must be exaggerating because that’s what women do. The worst part? This guy wasn’t even a douche. He is a genuinely nice guy with an amazing girlfriend. But his natural default state is to disbelieve my story.
I just wish my own experiences were enough. That the experiences of fellow women were enough. But we must always come with backers. We must always have a few men nodding along behind us in the crowd. And at the very least if we’re going to be so bold as to bring up racism or sexism in polite company then we better be willing to quote reputable studies that have been widely recognized by the psychological and sociological communities.
If we lack this armor we are just drama. Dramatic or… wait for it… psycho bitches who think everybody is out to rape them or thinks they must be, “Like, soooo attractive to be hit on so much and totally, probably, like, thinks like a victim.”
This is so dangerous because I believe it teaches us not to trust our own judgments. Sadly, in this world, that can be life or death. When that guy hits on you for the third time at the club we should just get over it. He wasn’t being that creepy. “Oh no, girl, don’t talk to the bouncer about him, that’s just drama. Just have a good time.” I complained anyway but nothing was done.
And hey, when he tries to attack you while leaving the club—which happened to me and a friend in June of this year—the police may ask you why you didn’t complain “more than once” to security. I shit you not.
Because it is never good enough. It’s always a teachable moment from man to woman. So listen up, child, because that’s exactly what you are. At least until a white man comes to back up your claims. But I don’t have to tell you that. You already know. The trick is for this argument not to be dismissed outright by some dude in a Quicksilver t-shirt because the fact is, he has final say on the veracity of our claims.
It’s not fucking coincidence I can quote that man at length. It’s a motherfucking necessity. And people wonder why I can’t sleep at night…
*I wanted to note that I am fully aware that when men of color talk about racism they are not believed by white society either. This is not a woman’s problem in totality. Sadly, that hardly negates their default reaction of disbelief when, as women, we share our own stories with them.