On New Year’s Resolutions and the non-hilariousness of violence against women

If there is one thing I’d like people to take away from 2015, it’s this:

Violence against women is not funny.

Over and over and over this year (and in all the years prior), we’ve heard the same excuses and remarks:

“It was just a joke.”
“Can’t you take a joke?”
“Oh, he didn’t mean it.”
“He’s just socially awkward.”
“You’re ruining his life.”
“You’re blowing it out of proportion.”
“Time to get over it, don’t you think?”
“Well he DID apologise. OK, he called you a ‘dumb cunt’ at the same time. But he SAID sorry.”
“That’s just his way.”
“Oh, yes, he’s always like that. You get used to it.”

There’s a reason I made “Can’t you take a joke?” the centre square in Antifeminist Bingo.

If you’re the sort of person to make resolutions, I suggest to you that you consider not making a resolution to exercise more or take up less space or give up carbs or work harder or quit smoking or get organised. Or, whatever. You can resolve those things, go ahead. It’s your life.

But consider adding this:

I resolve to stop making excuses. I resolve to make an effort to see rape culture (if I need to), and, where safe for me, to refuse to tolerate it. I resolve to listen to people when they say that someone targeted them. I resolve to remember that it was difficult for them to tell me that. And I resolve to stop making excuses.

And while you’re at it, read this Kate Harding essay again. The one with this in it:

“‘Cause the thing is, you and the guys you hang out with may not really mean anything by it when you talk about crazy bitches and dumb sluts and heh-heh-I’d-hit-that and you just can’t reason with them and you can’t live with ’em can’t shoot ’em and she’s obviously only dressed like that because she wants to get laid and if they can’t stand the heat they should get out of the kitchen and if they can’t play by the rules they don’t belong here and if they can’t take a little teasing they should quit and heh heh they’re only good for fucking and cleaning and they’re not fit to be leaders and they’re too emotional to run a business and they just want to get their hands on our money and if they’d just stop overreacting and telling themselves they’re victims they’d realize they actually have all the power in this society and white men aren’t even allowed to do anything anymore and and and…

I get that you don’t really mean that shit. I get that you’re just talking out your ass.

But please listen, and please trust me on this one: you have probably, at some point in your life, engaged in that kind of talk with a man who really, truly hates women—to the extent of having beaten and/or raped at least one. And you probably didn’t know which one he was.

And that guy? Thought you were on his side.”

That’s all. Happy winter or summer Festivus/Solstice/whatever else you celebrate. I hope you’re safe and happy.

Categories: Miscellaneous

5 replies

  1. Well said, Lauredhel. Apologies for being late saying so, I had One Of Those Weekends.

    I’ve spent a lot more time in recent years reading and listening to people describing their experiences of being targeted in both overt and covert ways. It’s especially the multitude of plausibly deniable and when-only-other-harasser-types-are-looking minor transgressions/aggressions that perpetuate the shoulder-shrugging around the edges of rape culture – boys will be boys, just trying to lighten things up, why so serious, can’t you just let people have a little fun etc etc. They also perpetuate the “how was I to know xe didn’t want me to?” defense when the targeted are groomed into pretending they’re OK with these lower levels of harassment so that the harassers feel confident they can get away with ratcheting their aggressions up a few more notches, leading to the whole “well why didn’t xe tell me to stop sooner” and “why don’t they just say No more clearly” gaslighting after they move over the line into groping and other assaults.

    I was recently part of a limited-period group project where one guy was one of those I-Am-Cheerfully-Racing-Towards-You-To-Give-You-A-Bear-Hug-(So-I-Can-Squish-Your-Boobs-Against-My-Chest) types. I was so surprised the first time he did it I confess that I just froze. The next time he tried it I managed to maintain the A-frame so he didn’t get his squish payoff, and he got the message that next time I’d probably tell him to GTFO and he subsequently toned his greetings down (and not just to me, to the other woman on the project as well). His Sudden Bear Hug behaviour was an entirely reliable sign that he would tend to abuse his talents if he could play headgames instead, preferring to be a gaslighting undermining pain in the arse than a reliable colleague, and thus it proved to be for the rest of the project. Life being what it is, I wouldn’t say I’d absolutely never ever work with him again if the project payoffs were enticing enough, but I’ll certainly be looking to avoid it, and warning other women about him too.

  2. I was and am still appalled that it took a social media campaign for police to look further into a recent domestic violence assault. The woman (allegedly) assaulted by her boyfriend went to their housemate’s room for help, the housemate took photos and called the police. The police said he claimed she had fallen down stairs and that it was her word against his. So she and the housemate took it to social media. Even with his messages to her asking her not to press charges because it would destroy his life and blaming her for not letting him ‘let off steam’ – which bothers me too, because not only is he refusing to take responsibility for his own actions I suspect that he is also trying to shame her for something she chose not to do – the police apparently said there wasn’t enough evidence. Only after the police received multiple complaints from people did they reopen the investigation into the assault. That’s why women don’t report assaults. She now has an AVO against him. But obviously there are some major failings with the system.

  3. Fourthed.


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