Annual Vigil

Tomorrow is the first day of my labor anniversary. Each year I hold a kind of vigil over the four days and nights between the onset of my labor (6 am on Sept 1st) and the birth of my son (8:04 am on the 5th). I make sure his birthday is a happy, celebratory day but I carve a small space in the days before for my sadness. 

No one warned me that pregnancy would disable me, that it would move my arthritis and other conditions from “manageable” to “not”. I didn’t know I would begin getting cavities for the first time in my life, or that my hip would dislocate during pushing. I resent not having an informed choice, or even fair warning. 

A 98 hour labor stays with you. It’s not the kind of thing you forget. In the early years my vigil was mostly about that, about the expectations I had and the failure I felt like.  It took me a few years to move past the trauma of it, and I didn’t really feel “safe” from a repeat experience until I terminated my second pregnancy. 

Then I spent a few years working through my shame over my choice of husband. His useless and bad behavior was something I carried the guilt for, and it took some time to stop cleaning his messes. I wished I’d gotten pregnant by a better man, but then that baby wouldn’t really be my son, would not be the same person at all. And I definitely don’t want to trade my child in for some other. 

This year I’m learning to accept that I came out too late to avoid hetero marriage and the associated domestic violence, but that if I’d come out any sooner, I wouldn’t have this child. I would not have the trauma of that 98 hour labor, nor the intimate joy of growing him in my womb. 

I can’t keep the baby but throw out that old bathwater. I can’t have this child but not that closet, that ex, that four day birth. And I love him so much, his place in my life is so important, I find I can cope with the worst things I’ve lived through, because that’s what it took to get him 

I grieve each year for what I’ve lost, but I know it’s a price I would willingly pay again to be his mother. 

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Street Harassment Excuses

What many women call street harassment is usually framed by men as something else: a conversation, a friendly exchange, a compliment. When we express reasons this behavior makes us angry, anxious or afraid, they make excuses. 

“I would love to be complimented.”

Stalking, harassment, physical intimidation, flashing, and propositioning women who are not sex workers is not complimentary. It is not flattering. Being complimented by a woman has no resemblance to street harassment. There’s no fear, no threat, no thousands of years of women abusing and killing men foir saying no to their inappropriate advances. 

“This world is too cold. Women should be friendly when strange men talk to them.” 

I agree this world is cold and cruel, but having her own damn life is not something cruel women you don’t know are doing to you. Interrupting her to day to give her your genitals’ opinion of her body is something cruel you’re doing to her. And it’s disgusting. 

“But how else are men and women supposed to meet?”

It’s 2016! There are more dating apps than your phone can store right now, plus many traditional models still exist. Church singles groups, singles nights at bars, or the popular getting introduced by friends option did not go anywhere. 

“If men are too afraid to talk to women, the species will die out!”

One, if the species requires harassment to propogate, we should die out. Two, do you honestly believe for one second that men are actually afraid of women? If so, WHY? It’s not like we stalk, harass, rape, and murder men at rates anywhere close to how y’all treat us. 

“So what, I can’t even be friendly?” 

If at this point in my post you still don’t get it, then yes. You should not be friendly to women, or compliment women, or try to strike up conversations with women. You may not know this, but nearly half the adults in this world are men. Really! You can go compliment men and chat them up and prove how nonsexual all these conversations you foist on women really are. 
Just leave women alone while you do it.  

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Groped By a Gay Guy

I was a high school freshman at a magnet school for the performing arts. It was the only school in my large district where enough students felt safe being out for it to be called “trendy” (with scorn of course). I was mimisidentifying as bi, and I befriended the other queer kids. 

One of them was a gay boy. He was loud and funny and in the theater program like me. But he was also inappropriate. He would grab the breasts of me and the other girls, for laughs or to surprise us. When we objected, he’d throw up his hands and in an exaggerated tone he’d say, “I’m GAY!” 

This went on for awhile. I hadn’t yet heard the accepted theory that sexual assault is about power, not attraction. If I had, maybe I would not have taken so long to snap. Maybe the violation of being groped by a gay guy would not have confused me so. 

One day he tried again, on the big patio where we ate lunch. I smacked him away with one hand and tried to punch his face with the other. “If you like boobs so much, go buy a pair!” I shouted, in his face, stretching my 5’2″ frame as tall as I could. 

He never grabbed me again. I don’t know if he still did it to others. I know that by the age of 14 I was convinced of the futility of reporting sexual assault, and didn’t even recognize it as such, so I never said anything to teachers or other authority figures. 

That wasn’t the most egregious violation I’ve experienced, not by a long shot, but it was the most perplexing. Why would he abuse me if he didn’t even like me? (Take a moment to marvel at the layers of messed up in that one thought.) 

I know now that my experience is not uncommon, and gay men behaving as if they were entitled to gay women’s bodies is a trauma many lesbians share. When I say I don’t trust men, when I say that men as a gender are misogynistic and violent, I’m not forgetting to make exceptions for gay men. They’re still men, and one of the easiest ways for a gray man to access the male privilege homophobic patriarchy might withhold is to disrespect women. 

How To Harass Women 7/7

Modern Man chose this image to display “confident, relaxed and easy going” harassment. Look at her back against the railing as he confidently encroaches her space.

Last one, I swear. 

Most single women are open to being approached by a confident guy, so that they can have a chance to meet a potential new lover or boyfriend.

Citation sorely needed. A concise definition of “open” is also desired, along with a brief explanation why her potential openness is of greater interest than the fact that she’s already doing something, and that she is wearing headphones, the universal symbol of not wanting to talk to you.  

Too bad women have no other chances at meeting possible lovers besides letting random men on the street interrupt them and order them to take off their headphones! It’s a shame there are no online dating sites or singles mixers anywhere in the world and that the perpetuation of the heterosexual race depends on street harassment. I feel bad for straights. 

The key to talking to a woman who is wearing headphones (or who has her face buried into her smartphone and checking Facebook) is to have the right attitude and behavior when you approach her.

No. The key is to not do it unless you have a real reason. “Watch out for that runaway ice cream truck” is a reason. “I think you’re hot and don’t care if this disclosure is inappropriate or even vaguely threatening” is not. Women genuinely do not care what random horndogs think. If they cared, they would ask. 

The right attitude is to be confident, relaxed and easy going, which allows the woman to feel naturally attracted to you and open to talking with you.

You could be so relaxed you were in a coma and millions of women would still rather have you silent and away, but who cares about the dozens of women you’ll harass if even one of them gives your ego a stroke with her trapped smile and nervous laughter, eh? 

Of course, not all women who wear headphones are open to being approached or hoping to be approached. However, you can only find that out by starting a conversation and seeing what happens.

Or you could just assume headphones mean what they say and let women exist publicly without your skjeevy creepy domineering boundary violating ways which you insist on mislabeling as confident and easy going. 

Who knows? She might just be your perfect girl.

For men it’s “Who knows? She might be your perfect girl.” For women it’s “Who knows? He might assault me if I don’t smile and pretend I like this.” Is every woman gonna be as hostile to sexually laden interruptuons from strange men as me? Nope. But we all have to live under the ever present threat of fatal male violence. Part of acknowledging that’s wrong is not exploiting that threat for your own gain. 

Men can afford to “approach” women because the worst she can do is say no. When men hit on me, here are the things I want to say. 

  • Fuck off
  • As if
  • I’m gay
  • Go away
  • Your shirt is ugly
  • Your face is ugly
  • Leave women alone.

What I feel safe enough to say? “I have a boyfriend.”

I wear headphones to reduce the frequency of times I tell entitled men to fuck themselves, because each time I’m at risk. This writer would see that refuge taken from us, would compel us to enter into more stranger danger scenarios. Because for men it’s a numbers game and more interactions mean more chances to score. For women it’s also an issue of odds, with more interactions increasing negative outcomes. 

Leave women alone. 

How To Harass Women 6/7

Modern Man chose this image to display “confident, relaxed and easy going” harassment. Look at her back against the railing as he confidently encroaches her space.

Will it never end?!?

5. Not including any flirting

Sure. I know what I’ve always regretted about times strange men interrupted me to express their desire for my attention was that there just wasn’t enough flirting. Ha!

Flirting is the human way of communicating sexual interest between a man and a woman.

Not the way i do it. *winks in Lesbian*

It is a way of saying to the other person, “I’m interested in you in a sexual way and I’d like to take this further,” without having to use those words at all. 

Heterosexuals sound sad and boring. You’re flirting wrong. 

Flirting is also a good way to establish attraction and to make your intentions known. Guys who approach a woman who is wearing headphones and don’t include any flirting in the conversation, [stet] will usually hear, “Nice talking to you,” as she puts her headphones back in and zones him out. 

If I interrupted every woman I found attractive to tell her so, I wouldn’t have millennia of misogyny lubricating the interaction on my end. I wouldn’t have a culture that overwhelmingly backs my gender and believes our words. I wouldn’t have decades of my prey being conditioned to treat my unwanted advances with polite smiles. “Nice talking to you” is a polite response to impolite and inappropriate behavior, not some tragedy. 

He goes on to make the bold and unsupported claim that “most women are open to being approached”, begging the question of how he defines being ” open”. 

As you may have noticed, women usually don’t go around actively approaching men in public places or even in bars and clubs. 

I know.  Women are better like that. Hkggfdhn

Women know that id the man’s role to be confident enough to walk over and talk to a woman he finds attractive, so they have a chance to meet. 

Haha wow gag. Hitting on every pretty woman is not confidence. It’s poor impulse control.  

If he doesn’t do that, a woman will rarely walk over and talk to him first. 

You mean the woman wearing headphones and using her phone won’t stop those activities to spontaneously throw themselves at men they don’t even know? How shocking. 

So don’t ever think that you’re doing a bad thing by approaching and talking to a woman in a confident, easy going way. 

Time to price effigies because my “fuck you” levels of rage for this need a release. It is wrong to treat all spaces as meat markets. It is wrong to shove your heterosexuality down lesbian gullets and put us into the situation of smiling through our teeth or outing ourselves and risking homicidal violence. It is wrong to “confidently” interrupt women. It’s a bad thing and you should feel bad for doing it. 




How To Harass Women 5/7

Modern Man chose this image to display “confident, relaxed and easy going” harassment. Look at her back against the railing as he confidently encroaches her space.

Let’s get this started, finished. Whatever. This guy is sleezy and skeavy and I feel gross. “Mistakes” guys make while treating the entirety of public life as a heterosexual singles bar. 

3. Not leading the conversation

Oh good. The domineering stranger will pick the tyopics of the conversatin he orders me to remove my headphones to partake in, as his audience. Of coyrse. Gotta keep our ears clear to hear them. Must service the men by providing a repositiry for all their verbal ejaulate.

No matter how confident or challenging women might behave,

 Hey fuck you too buddy. 

a lot of women still dream of meeting a guy who is more confident than themselves

A lot of men are into ball torture. Should women bestow this treatment on everyone they presume to be male, since men have decided to bestow the kink fantasy of some women onto all of us (including non women misread by your scattershot ways), whether we want it or not? Alas, I think we’d get in trouble. 

A woman doesn’t want to be forced to lead a conversation with a shy guy, but she will if she has to or she wants to. 

So she doesnt want to do it, but will if she wants to. This guy was paid forvthis drivel. Maybe the safe bet is to stop forcing women into conversations. 

Leading a conversation with a woman is not about bossing her around, being arrogant or being too assertive. 

Good god man, Oxford comma or none, just pick a bloody side. Notice how he says this interaction that started with commanding a woman to remove her headphones because a man desired to expel words at her is not about bossing her around.  

You simply need to remain confident and keep the conversation going in a relaxed, easy going manner. 

He used all these words earlier to describe behavior which in reality is bossy, arrogant, too assertive, and sexist. 

4. Sticking to polite or reserved conversation

Jesus, why are men? 

A guy who is trying to talk to a woman wearing headphones has to make his presence felt twice as quickly as a guy talking to a woman anywhere else. 

But why does his presence being felt by her matter more than what she was already freaking doing? Oh wait, it doesn’t. This guy literally doesn’t care.

Since she is wearing headphones, when those headphones come off, his conversation style has to spark her attraction and interest and make her want to listen to more of what he has to say. 

Or you could just grant women the same freedom to be in public without unwanted sexual advances that you do to men. Wild, I know.

If he begins asking her an endless amount of personal questions, or doesn’t takje the conversation anywhere other than UST being a friendly chit-chat, she will quickly lose interest and return to her music.

Wow it’s almost like she was doing something before he interrupted her. 

Engaging conversation skills are essential in keeping a woman’s attention at the best of times and even more so when she can switch herself off with a clickj of the “play” button. 

Okay I don’t want to make too much out of a Freudian slip but this dude just referred to a woman no longer paying attention to him as switching herself off. That’s some mighty impressive objectification!

Modern Man chose this image to display “confident, relaxed and easy going” harassment. Look at her back against the railing as he confidently encroaches her space.

I so regret taking this on. Why is it so long? Do men even know how bloviating they truly are? Once more into the breach my friends with the second “mistake”men make when interrupting and harassing women wearing headphones.

2. Giving up too easily

Never have I ever so strongly desired to shin kick a perfect stranger as I do right now. 

Headphones are a great barrier between a person and the rest of the world.

Oh sure, when people abide by their clear meaning. 

Some women wear headphones because they don’t want guys or anyone else to speak to them, so if you try to talk to a woman and she clearly shows that she’s not interested in talking to you, just respect that and walk away. 

So close and yet so far from where it should be. I’d appreciate the statement to respect lack of interest if this entire ridiculously long how-to was not predicated on first ignoring a lack of interest.  So exactly how clear does she have to be for you to leave her alone? 

Does she need to concoct a fictional boyfriend or is resting bitch face sufficient? Will she have to out herself or will ignoring him make him go away? Maybe the author and his readers have concrete ideas of what’s enough disinterest to warrant respect, but it won’t be the same among them, and women will always be left guessing how rude they must be, and how rude it is safe to be. 

However, sometimes a woman will be interested in talking to a guy, but she won’t immediately pull out her headphones and show interest. Why?

Aaaaaaaaack! It’s the sexist male delusion known as Playing Hard To Get. Kill it with fire!!!!!!! 

Odds the author is greatly overestimating the interest level of the women he harasses? Astronomical. Also, I knew he was insincere in that bit about respecting her disinterest. 

Some women like to test guys to see how confident they really are and a favorite test of women, [stet] is to ignore a guy’s attempts to converse with her and see what he will do next.

Citation fucking needed. 

Will he walk away in shame, or will he remain calm and continue talking to her in a confident, easygoing manner? If a guy gives up at the first sign of resistance, most women will be turned off by his lack of confidence. 

You keep using that word. I don’t think t means what you think it means. Confidence is not aggression, bullying, social dominance, or violating boundaries. Confidence is self respect and self esteem and is not a conversation style. Respecting a woman’s no is neither a lack of confidence nor “giving up”. It’s respect.

So, if you are going to talk to a woman with headphones

No. 

just keep in mind that some women will immediately take off their headphones to chat to you

Wait. 

some will make it obvious that they don’t want to be bothered

Stop.

and others might want to talk to you,

Please. 

but first want to see if you will remain confident 

Don’t. 

if she doesn’t immediately begin talking to you. 

Why.