A boy sprawled next to me on the bus, elbows out, knee pointing sharp into my thigh.
He frowned at me when I uncrossed my legs, unfolded my hands
and splayed out like boys are taught to: all big, loose limbs.
I made sure to jab him in the side with my pretty little sharp purse.
At first he opened his mouth like I expected him to, but instead of speaking up he sat there, quiet, and took it for the whole bus ride.
Like a girl.
Once, a boy said my anger was cute, and he laughed,
and I remember thinking that I should sit there and take it,
because it isn’t ladylike to cause a scene and girls aren’t supposed to raise their voices.
But then he laughed again and all I saw
was my pretty little sharp nails digging into his cheek
before drawing back and making a horribly unladylike fist.
(my teacher informed me later that there is no ladylike way of making a fist.)
When we were both in the principal’s office twenty minutes later
him with a bloody mouth and cheek, me with skinned knuckles,
I tried to explain in words that I didn’t have yet
that I was tired of having my emotions not taken seriously
just because I’m a girl.
Girls are taught: be small, so boys can be big.
Don’t take up any more space than absolutely necessary.
Be small and smooth with soft edges
and hold in the howling when they touch you and it hurts:
the sandpaper scrape of their body hair that we would be shamed for having,
the greedy hands that press too hard and too often take without asking permission.
Girls are taught: be quiet and unimposing and oh so small
when they heckle you with their big voices from the window of a car,
because it’s rude to scream curse words back at them, and they’d just laugh anyway.
We’re taught to pin on smiles for the boys who jeer at us on the street
who see us as convenient bodies instead of people.
Girls are taught: hush, be hairless and small and soft,
so we sit there and take it and hold in the howling,
pretend to be obedient lapdogs instead of the wolves we are.
We pin pretty little sharp smiles on our faces instead of opening our mouths,
because if we do we get accused of silly women emotions
blowing everything out of proportion with our PMS, we get
condescending pet names and not-so-discreet eyerolls.
Once, I got told I punched like a girl.
I told him, Good. I hope my pretty little sharp rings leave scars.
The number of “get me out of here” tactics women have developed and shared to help each other escape from overly-insistent-to-borderline-predatory dudes in public places should probably be enough evidence of the existence of rape culture all on its own.
I especially like how, in the majority of cases, you don’t have to verbally communicate what your signals are to other women. I’ve had women I didn’t even know come save me. Literally every woman recognizes the “Dear god, help me” facial expression, and knows exactly what they should do. We don’t get a handbook for this. We don’t have a sit-down nail polish party where we talk about a standardized woman code for preventing creepers. It’s just part of being a woman.
BUT LOL RAPE CULTURE DOESN’T EXIST.
Yup. I’ve definitely taken strangers by the arm and pulled her aside to go, “Oh my GOD it’s you! How ARE YOU?!? It’s been so long!” and then been like “hey I could overhear that guy who wouldn’t leave you alone so I figured I’d give you an out” and then see their VISIBLY RELIEVED expressions. This is part of girl code, because rape culture is that pervasive.
I saw a post earlier, a little comedy fancomic about a bunch of villains declaring that Storm would be their bride, with the author saying that they missed the days when all the villains were in love with Storm
And the comic itself was cute, and I have no problems with it
But what I’m still really caught up on is my own reaction
Because when I read the comic, with panel after panel of villains declaring that Storm would be their bride - not necessarily making proposals, or really listening to her “hang on”s or anything- my first thought, in response to this silly little fan comic with no real continuity or bearing on anything, was, to start thinking about ways she should let them down gently so they didn’t become violent.
"Wait, what?" I thought to myself moments afterwards, and then noticed that suddenly, my shoulders were really tense
And I realized that just reading this silly little comic
Had somehow vicariously flipped on that instinct I never even knew I’d internalized
"Let men down gently"
"Never say ‘no’"
"Always make excuses"
"Don’t give them a reason to hurt you."
"Your ‘no’ is only as good as he lets it be."
That’s really fucked up, isn’t it.
There’s only so long you can live in a toxic environment without internalizing it.
My new album, Joss Whedon Kind Of Really Sucks and Even Though I Have and May Continue to Enjoy Some of His Shows or Aspects of His Shows That Doesn’t Mean That I Don’t Need To Recognize How They Have A Lot of Problematic Elements, is coming out next week!
It’ll feature such hits as:
- "The Origin Story of the Slayers is What Now?”
- "There’s A Spirit Journey And The Spirit Guide Is Offensive, This Whole Episode Is Offensive"
- "The Black Man Is The Villain Part Eins"
- "The Black Man Is The Villain Part Deux: Wait, So The Twist Is The Black Guy Was the Villain All Along?"
- "Was That Part With Spike And Buffy At The End Of Season Six Really Necessary. Could Spikes Character Development Not Be Achieved Some Other Way."
- "Dude Your Stories Have A Lot of Rape And Sexual Assault In Them."
- "I Guess Every Asian Actor In North America Was On Holiday For The Entirety Of The Filming Of Firefly Because There Sure Are A Lot Of Not Chinese People In This Chinese-American Culture."
- "Dude Your Stories Have A Lot of Rape And Sexual Assault In Them Reprise: Seriously Even Narratives Where Actual Physical Sexual Assault Is Absent Definitely Have This Sort of Undertone Its Creepy"
- "A Lot Of Stories End With Women Getting Punished For Having Sex Part One: Season Two Of Buffy"
- "A Lot Of Stories End With Women Getting Punished For Having Sex Part Two: Faith"
- "A Lot Of Stories End With Women Getting Punished For Having Sex Part Three: Of Course The Sex Worker Has A Secret Fatal Illness"
- "A Lot Of Stories End With Women Getting Punished For Having Sex Part Four: Penny Hecks A Dude, Penny Bites the Dust"
- "A Lot Of Stories End With Women Getting Punished For Having Sex Part Five: Like Going Back To Inara There’s A High Sex Worker Body Count In General"
- "A Lot Of Stories End With Women Getting Punished For Having Sex Part Six: I’m Sure There’s Plenty Of This In Dollhouse But I Can’t Even Parse It All Right Now"
- "A Lot Of Stories End With Women Getting Punished For Having Sex Part Seven: Lesbian Death In The Bedroom And You"
- "Why Does The Black Slayer Have That Accent Also Why Does She Die?"
- "The Origin Story Of The Slayers Is What Now? Reprise: Say That Again About Sierra’s Origin Story Cause I Don’t Think I Heard You Quite Right.”
And of course, the hit classic,
- "You Know, When I First Watched This I Found It Empowering, But Looking Back That Was Just Because It Was All I Had: We Have To Go Begging For Scraps and That’s Why He’s Been Able To Seem So Progressive For So Long"