mayakittenreads: (GirlReading)
I was part of it.

The news broke, at least for me, on Sunday Australian time. A young man had gone on a shooting spree in the USA. You can read about it on any news site, but try this article for an overview.

Before this, he had uploaded vile and mysoginistic rants and manifestos to the internet. Yet the media blames the fact that he had Aspergers Syndrome, calling him crazy. This ignores the evidence that he himself left plenty of.

By Sunday afternoon the rage and fear of women all over the world had built to the point that it exploded all over Twitter using the hastag #YesAllWomen.

Flicking through my twitter feed, I saw multiple people tweeting a quote from Margaret Atwood. A quick google indicates that it is a slightly adjust quote based on a paragraph from her lecture Writing the Male Character (1982)

All men are afraid that women will laugh at them. All women are afraid that men will kill them.

I wondered at the implication that went with #YesAllWomen. Could I really say that all women had experienced some form of harrasment. Had felt threatened by men. I've lived a fairly privileged life. Had I experienced this?

30 seconds later I remembered the incident from 7 or 8 years ago when three teenage boys burned my hair with a lighter while I was sat towards the back of a base. I remembered the fear because while younger than me, they were bigger, stronger and there were more of them. The paralysing fear that prevented me from telling the bus driver what happened when she came to the back of the bus to investigate the smell. The feeling of ickiness when they got off the bus an one turned and smirked at me. The shakiness when I finally got home and called the police to belatedly report it.

Even now, years later and in a different city, I don't sit at the back of the bus unless the front is full.

So I joined the rage on Twitter. I tweeted.

Elanor MattonJohnson @ImpyMJ May 24

I've been incredibly lucky, but even I've had my hair set on fire on a bus for male amusement.

[ profile] fluffmittenhad to point out to me that the patriachy had trained me so well that I was basically accepting a physical assault because thank goodness it was a sexual assault.

This is the way we bring up our girls. To expect violence and be grateful that it wasn't worse. To expect to have to take security precautions for ourselves rather than rely on men to be good people.

All we're asking is to be treated as human beings.

Since then, with the rage simmering in my head, I've realised that while I can probably count the times I've been clubbing on my fingers, I can also recall multiple experiences while clubbing where I had to remove myself from unwanted wandering hands.

Friends ask me if I'm sure I want to walk home after dark, even if it's only 20 minutes away in a quiet neighbourhood.

A lift full of men puts me on the defensive immeadiately.

Why do I have to live like this? With fears that are so ingrained that half the time I don't realise that they're there?

Ruby Hamad outlines the issues and the reasons that the anger of so many women was triggered by this example of what evil our society has wrought for The Drum - She's a wee bit more eloquent than I feel capable of right now.

I flounder a lot, wondering what on earth I can do against a problem so ingrained in society. But as I said on Twitter on Sunday night, I need to have hope, even if it's just a small flicker. I can't change society, but I can make myself aware. I can retweet and blog links to people who write sensible, thought provoking blogs covering a myriad of issues regarding sexism, racism, ablism... anything that means people are being treated as 'lesser'. I can recognise and work to change my own prejudices and position of privilege. I can focus on spreading awareness of women in speculative fiction, because I may not be able to change the world, but I can try and have an impact on my little corner of it.

If we all try and change our own little corners, maybe we will get somewhere.

I can only hope.


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