We’re not every man’s mom. Why do we have to be supervising them to prevent disaster?

To illustrate my point I will tell you about a party I went to where I met this group of lads. First, there’s Jack, (not his real name, I’ve changed all their names) who was described as the most inoffensive of them all. Well, little Jack man, he commented on my size. And when he saw I wasn’t happy he tried to dismiss it as a minor jest. I mean, I have a sense of humour, but from all the topics in the universe his ice-breaker choice was a joke on how short I am. Seriously, Jack?

Later, when Jack was trying to outdo his earlier slip by chitchatting about food Jim came in the scene. He threw a can of beer that flew between Jack and me. I saw the can from the corner of my eye as it went past my ear and landed inside a pan on the cooker in front of me. Nope, that was not a big deal. Not at all… Why would I be upset? I was only stirring the mulled wine on top of the fire. Blame is on me for not being a fan of big fire hazards… ¬¬

Just as I was thinking that talking with them would ease the tension I realised I couldn’t possibly raise the bar, I had nothing to offer to their conversation. They were literally shamelessly discussing the size of their penises.

By then the party had split into two. I walked to meet the other group. Five minutes into this new lad-free space and Bruce, who had left the lads, came in offering some shots. We all declined, so he felt he may shove the tray of shots on Ella’s face because she didn’t want to drink. He thought that this was a good and righteous way of convincing her and her girlfriend to change their minds.

Will, kissed Gerry on her lips, even though he’s married to someone else… I didn’t let any of this to eat away from my enjoyment, noo.

After the party, the friend that invited me felt that she needed to apologise on behalf of these grown up men (they must have been between the ages of 30-35). She said it was a shame that so and so were on their own, because when they are around their girlfriends they are actually decent people. I wondered why they should need a woman by their side to behave. Why can’t they behave themselves?

So what happens when you add the sex factor?

There was this “psychologist” who, even though he was married, was insistently inviting me to play “sexy games” with him, behind his wife’s back. At the time I was having a bout of depression and I told him I was suicidal. His response “then you MUST accept my advances. Otherwise, it would be a waste if you died and I didn’t get to use your body for my pleasure.” He only stopped after I told him I decided I would speak to his wife about this.

Or what about the ex who raped me when I was blind drunk? I asked him what he was feeling/thinking when he saw me that time, he said “You were so cute, even kind of funny… You looked VULNERABLE.” I was unconscious, so he did what he could because he could do it.

When I have seen people look vulnerable I HELP THEM, if I can’t help them, I LEAVE THEM ALONE. But apparently, that’s not the case for these men. They hurt because they can. But that’s no excuse. The fact that you can harm someone doesn’t mean you should.

Because of this lack of self-moderation all of them are potential predators. They actually enjoy their power to instil fear. They have got a world for themselves. They make women responsible for their actions (men’s actions), and the worst is, that we buy it. We stand up and carry the shame and punishments.

Let’s think about street harassment, for example. The problem hasn’t been addressed properly. It is palpable, every time women are held responsible for the attack, even before it happens: we are bombarded with recommendations. It starts with small restrictions. It may be something really simple and “innocuous” on the surface (little tiny changes), but at this rate eventually we will be asked to stop doing anything we are entitled to, even cease to exist. Little by little we are requested to give in our rights. We are asked to sacrifice our freedom. Do not go out at night.” “Do not drink”. “Do not dress like that.” “Do not talk.” They will eventually get to tell us openly “Do not breathe. Why don’t you just die?” Maybe things would be different if the curfew was applied to men, instead.

We are condemned by the actions of others; the actions they do upon us. We drink, it’s our fault. They drink, it’s our fault. If they abuse us it’s our fault because we should have known they couldn’t control themselves. BUT we have to be reasonable, at all times. When they attack us, we have to be reasonable and calmed so we can fight, or don’t and probably they will stop… When the attack has passed, we have to be reasonable and keep calm; after all, it was our fault, wasn’t it? Okay, maybe report it to the police, it’s the right thing. We have to remember all the details, don’t take a shower, leave our clothes, every piece of evidence, and be reasonable to request kindly that someone help us, but not too kind or people won’t believe we’ve been attacked.

But you know what? This won’t stop until THEY STOP. They are the ones who have to control themselves. They are the ones who have to choose not to take advantage, not to harm. Maybe that way they’d moderate themselves. Maybe that way they’d choose to respect. But until then, zero tolerance and self-defence!


Photographer: Steven Dyer

#DianaBarbara #Article #Issue21

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