Last weekend, the hashtag #YesAllWomen was trending on social media in response to the shooting in Santa Barbara. If you missed it, that hashtag was an important one, striving to bring attention to the fact that while Not All Men treat woman poorly by either objectifying them or through violence or other abuse, all women experience the effects of misogyny. I highly recommend looking through the archive as it prompted some really interesting conversations.
On a another level, it was also about how many women, myself included, don’t really talk about the everyday effects of misogyny and other abuses that women have (sadly) come to accept as normal or expected because we don’t want to be perceived as weak or complaining and because we often suffer even more abuse for speaking up. It’s this ridiculous but effective cycle where people who talk about how woman are treated are threatened with death/rape/etc making them and others like them even less likely to speak up in the future. But if people don’t talk about what’s going on then the average person isn’t going to realize that we even have a problem or the true extent of it. Many brave women and men stepped up and shared their stories last weekend and I really think it raised awareness of the problem at least a little.
But, literally as all this was going on and we were engaged in this national debate about how the genders treat each other, something happened to me personally that I wanted to mention here. Because while FAR from the worst thing to even happen to me, I think it’s important for me to mention so that people understand that this kind of stuff isn’t happening to random strangers you’ve never met once in a while… it’s happening to your friends and peers right now, they just may not be telling you about it.
I did a testimonial for my friend John’s book and John did a graphic up that he shared on Facebook with my blurb and a photo next to it. He tagged me in the photo but he tagged my private personal account, not my public page. (Though the photo he used is the one in the blue shirt from the public page if you’re curious.) A fan/friend of his clicked through from his image and sent me a creeper message through Facebook. I’ve gotten many of these in my life and I know most women have to the point where we don’t even consider them worth mentioning but I realized that they ARE worth mentioning for the simple reason that just because this happens to women all the time doesn’t mean it’s OK.
I got a creepy come on email from a complete stranger because I wrote up a book blurb for a business contact. Gentlemen, how many times has that happened to you? By doing my friend a favor and writing up a review, is it fair that I apparently signed up to be subjected to come on’s and unwanted advances? And let’s just take a moment to think about the culture we’re in that a random dude thinks it’s OK to send an email like that because he saw my picture next to an e-commerce quote. Does he imagine I’m flattered? Does it occur to him at all that I’m a real person with opinions and feelings and not just something for him to try to score with?
Does the way I talk about social commerce turn him on? I’m joking but it also enrages me that this dude has taken a context that is literally only about me and my words and business experience and trying to turn it back around to my looks. Like the fact that I’m conventionally attractive is all I really have to offer and isn’t it cute that I’m trying to pretend I’ve got anything else going on.
Now add to this that this creeper dude has seen my Facebook cover photo which is of my baby daughter and how uncomfortable that makes me. And maybe you’re thinking that I shouldn’t have a picture of my child up on my private page and that somehow I’m asking for creepers by having a profile on social media at all, things I’ve heard said to others in similar situations and, I ask you again, is that really fair? That I shouldn’t be able to have a private social network account because some people won’t be able to contain themselves and send me a creepy message?
It’s your fault your house got robbed, sir! Look at you with this big house and nice stuff. You were basically asking for it. Robbers can’t help themselves. You should just not have a house at all so they aren’t tempted to rob it.
Anyway, this creeper message was actually pretty tame compared to some I’ve gotten (and the fact that I have a Creeper Message Scale in my head should give you an idea of how often I get these) but I reported it to Facebook because it’s still Not OK. I reported it several times and nothing happened, the message was not only still there in my inbox but Facebook even kept showing me notifications for it, shoving it back in my face again even after I’d told them it was abusive. This was not ideal.
And I know that this is NOTHING compared to what many women go through on a daily basis but it is one very small example of how we still have a real problem with how some men treat women and the way this effects our ability to live our lives.
Not All Men are jerks. But all women feel the effects of the ones that are and that isn’t going to change on it’s own.