Thursday, November 18, 2004

Further Hysterics

So, one of the guys in the office just forwarded all the women in the office this stupid urban legend thing, passing it off as him being this concerned male citizen of virtue. You know this one, the *677 cell phone feature (in CANADA) that'll save a poor helpless woman who's got an unmarked police car on her ass and thinks it may be a nefarious villain out for rape and plunder and not a real police officer.

This is a lot like the traumatizing story I got of the rapists who would hide underneath your car at shopping malls holding knives, and cut your ankles to distract you while they pinned you to the hood of your car and raped you. For some reason, my young adolescent self never realized that the sheer physical dynamics involved in him cutting your ankles and then *sliding out from underneath the car and managing to disable you before you screamed, bit, gouged, and ran away* would pretty much prevent all but the stupidest attackers from trying this bit of menacing.

My well-meaning mother sends me these hysteric stories all the time. If you get them forwarded to you, check out to get the real deal.

Now, while I appreciate (though am exasperated by) these forwarded e-mails from my mother, I'm irritated and more than a little angry to find myself receiving one from a co-worker whom I rarely work with and barely know, whose social life is nil and work life lackluster and who suffers from a severe Napoleon complex.

Put me and this guy in a fight, and I can tell you right now who'll win.

I want to shake this guy and tell him I've got a Master's degree and have trekked 160 kilometres into rural Africa. I can lift some ungodly amount of weight, jog three miles, and have a whopping amount of anger just ready to be directed at a potential attacker.


Here's the deal, right... the guy was thinking he was doing his helpful male protector thing. He was alerting all of the women in the office that maybe that unmarked police car behind you isn't really a police car (yea, cause *guys* would never fall for this sort of thing), and you should be really hysterical about it, because BAD THINGS happen to women EVERY DAY.

And yes, I agree. Bad things happen every day. What I hate is the automatic assumption that because I'm a woman, I'm going to be the victim of a crime, and I need special consideration, and the guys in the office don't need to know this stuff, cause only 77% of the murdered are men. It's automatically assumed that I'm weaker and stupider and I need more protection. Is rape a woman-specific crime? Mostly, yea: but it's these goddamn I'd-rather-die-than-be-raped stigmas surrounding it that keep women silent about it and keep men doing it, and keep us all in so much fear of some stranger's swollen flesh that we send hysteric e-mails to each other instead of saying, "Yea. Just bite it off." Then report the fucker. You'll have a great DNA sample.

Yes, on the domestic abuse and sexual assault front, women are abused more than men, and it's bullshit, and the abuse needs to stop, and women need to stand up to it, and we live in a society that doesn't give most women the tools, skills, or resources to do so. But men are more likely to be the victim of a car jacking than women. 77% of murder victims are men. And, to top it all off, crime rates have been falling steadily for the last 20 years.

And I'm still getting hysterical e-mails.

Yea, there's still crime, but the pressure on women to be good or get violently assaulted for it is largely social. We're more likely (in the US) to be threatened with a crime or sit around in fear of a crime than to actually experience once.

As somebody who's spent a year and a half in South Africa terrifed out of my skull by rape rates/crime rates & etc. and *still* traveled alone through East London to King William's Town to Alice - the heartland of nowhere - and *still* came out alive... well, I can tell you that this fear bullshit is crippling and false.

Learn how to fight. Hold yourself a little taller. Don't take shit from anybody. Don't let anybody invade your personal space.

I stand by my earlier assertions: if more women knew how to fight back, more men would think twice about fucking with them. I'm a big believer in this one (this ideal could change, of course, I'm young). But as long as men and women are raised up believing that women exist as pretty ornaments instead of friends and partners, I'm going to keep getting these well-meaning e-mails that talk down to me instead of treating me like an equal.

And treating me like an equal means forwarding that hysteric message to everybody in the office, not just me.

And being a decent co-worker is about checking stupid fucking before forwarding said co-workers THIS BULLSHIT.

The end.

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