In order to even attempt to solve a problem you need to be aware of it in the first place. I know I could never come close to knowing what it must be like to be a woman in this world. I can never know what it’s like to be anyone but myself. But I am willing to try to understand as much as I can regarding all others, and will accept whatever comes my way gracefully in that process. I believe dialogue is a major step towards seeing ourselves in each other, and the healing that can come out of that.
Thank you to EVERYONE who has contacted me, shared some of your feelings following the first part of this series of blogs. It’s been incredible to witness the full spectrum of different responses.
I have decided to write an extra part inspired by your responses. Hence it’s now become part II of IV
In all the responses (there were many; mainly private messages as this is still a subject that is difficult to publicly speak about)) only two people asked me “what happened to you?” The blog was not written to receive sympathy about something that happened to me but something did happen to me and it’s as if it didn’t exist or somehow I wasn’t considered worthy enough to be a victim? Or I didn’t qualify?
“Move on buster. This world is not all about you. Stop trying to steal the show”
“Fucking arrogant white males, it’s always about them”.
“#MeToo is not about you asshole”.
I began to understand why it is so hard to share these things when they happen and how sexual harassment and assault often continue unabated for years. “I can’t possibly share that, what would people think?!” We need to let the genie out the bottle and allow this topic some air.
Recently I had an experience with a woman that opened my eyes and inspired me to speak up.
That was the moment I started to appreciate how it must be like to be a woman in this world and appreciate how so many of my actions have indeed been inappropriate.
I was taken advantage of by a beautiful woman and I felt so scared, confused, stupid, as if it were totally my fault and that if I wanted to share it I would be ridiculed in one way or another and no one would believe me anyway. I can imagine some of my old school and university friends, or even myself during those times saying “what are you complaining about? I wish that happened to me!” Or alternatively I felt shame or embarrassment that a “strong, strapping macho man” (whatever! I’m probably more like the opposite!) was allowed to feel so inconsequential and fearful and confused by a women putting her tongue down his throat.
“Man up” I can hear some people saying.
What does that even mean?
Can only a man, “man up”? What about a woman?
Here’s the thing I want to get across.
We are all caught up in how we are supposed to be that we forget to just be.
When we meet someone our mind has already decided who they are, what they represent, how we should be around them. I have seen this first hand in South Africa (and all over the world) with how people treat different people of colour without even realising it. And most definitely this applies to women and men.
I am a white male. But I am really kind and loving and gentle and sensitive. I love singing Whitney Houston – “I wanna dance with somebody”. I occasionally dress up in “women’s” (who decided these clothes are just for women?!) clothes. Sometimes it feels like I can’t possibly be those things in this body? I say fuck that. I’m going to let it hang out. And no it doesn’t mean I want to have sex with you that I am kind to you. I am just kind. And singing Whitney means singing Whitney! Whenever that track goes on I just wanna move & sing – I can’t help it! And it doesn’t mean I am Homosexual or Straight or Bisexual or Transgender or a Drag Queen or all of the above or nothing if I wear “women’s” clothes. What does it matter? I just like to wear those clothes.
I am tired of just amplifying the stuff that society says is cool and revered or your gender “should represent”, and dulling others because “you are a man, dude, you can’t be doing that?”
It’s how we keep repeating history. It’s getting boring now. And enough pain has been caused.
It hit me right in the heart imagining all the women who have been made to feel like “they asked for it” because of how they carry themselves and their beauty and their sensuality and their sexiness. Why can’t they just be all of that and not have to make allowances for men who are not listening? I am so sorry for not truly listening. I now have an inkling as to how lonely and terrifying that feels.
It became clear to me how we serve to protect the perpetrator more than anything and often in this process we start to feel like it’s our own fault. Like I say I am really tactile and friendly and engaging. But this doesn’t mean I want to sleep with you and this is not an invitation for you to step in. I am like this with everyone who is open to receiving it, I don’t prejudice my affection, I love to share it and I don’t want to stop.
What about you? What things are hard for you to be in the body you are in?
What do you see when you look at this picture?People might say:
These are words for “flower” in different languages of the world. There are many more of course.
The truth is, it is none of these. It just is.
Allow it to be.
Let’s allow each other to be too.