Am I just paranoid, or…

Just because you’re paranoid don’t mean they’re not after you. – Kurt Cobain

I think that many of my female readers share my feelings of paranoia but if not please let me know I’m just crazy. With this post it is my male readers I hope to speak to. The purpose of this post is in no way to blame all men for the immoral and illegal choices of some men, rather, the aim of this post is to put more fire in the bellies of male allies in the fight for women’s equality. I also in no way mean to diminish or minimize the experiences of men, boys and transgender individuals who have been sexually assaulted or raped. Their traumas are just as real as any woman’s and certainly are not given the weight in our society that they should be. With this post I want you to know specifically what my grievances are, how I feel as a woman on a daily basis, and, most importantly, what you can do to help. With everything in the news lately and all the statistics available surrounding the heinous rates of violence against women and sexual assault and rape around the world, it’s easy for me to feel like women, and our rights, are under attack.

For most of my life I have felt vulnerable simply because I am female, to the point that I’ve taken self defense classes. I’m sure some of this fear comes from having been repeatedly sexually assaulted by male relatives as a girl, but even now, as an adult woman, I find my mind shift to dark thoughts quite often when I am in the company of strangers. To live in constant fear of violence is absurd and ultimately will make you crazy, and I hate that I buy into the rape culture myth that violence against women, especially sexual violence, happens at night when a stranger jumps out from around a corner and tackles you.

Most rapes are committed by someone the victim knows and 50% of all rape/sexual assaults occur within 1 mile of the victim’s home! The Service Women’s Action Network also explains how prevalent rape and sexual assault against members of the US military is in this publication. See previous posts on violence against women including Violence Against Women in the US, The Clothesline Project, Take Back the Night, the V-Day MovementRAINN and NDVH, and others for more information on the situation of women in the US.

Women in other parts of the world are in even more frightening situations. Today Al-Jazeera posted this article explaining why Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan, India and Somalia are the top five most dangerous places in the world to be a woman. Reasons ranging from the feminization of poverty, rape as a weapon of war, and harmful religious and cultural practices, to female infanticide and female genital mutilation affect the safety and livelihoods of women in these places.

Back in the US, Republicans are taking their misogyny global by trying to defund Planned Parenthood at home and abroad, using “states’ rights” rhetoric to make abortion unattainable for the most vulnerable women in their districts, and trying to reinstate the Global Gag Rule, which really does just make me want to gag. But women and men are standing up for equality and human rights, including the 373 people who sent in pictures of themselves to NARAL Pro-Choice’s Stop the War on Women video to the US Senate, the fierce founders and participants of the Hollaback! movement to stop street harassment, and the thousands (millions?) of people who have participated in SlutWalks around the world to protest a culture of victim-blaming surrounding sexual assault. SlutWalk deserves its very own post, despite the massive amount of press it’s already received, so look out for that.

I think our biggest issue in victim-blaming comes from our rape culture myth that what women wear or do or say affects their chances of being raped: it doesn’t. Women should not have to protect themselves or change the way they want to appear for fear of rape: People should not rape. Period. Women have been objectified by American society for quite some time and while reinforcing that women are objects to be seen is not ideal, women should be allowed to be seen however they want, and should be able to have sex with whomever they want, without any individual thinking that anything other than clear and sober consent means yes to sex. And in the spirit of Hollaback! what I choose to wear does not give you permission to yell at me either.

So, with all this in mind, am I just paranoid or

-do you wonder whenever you’re in the shower or using a public restroom or having sex with someone for the first time if a webcam is broadcasting your nakedness all over the internet?
-do you also check your backseat whenever you get in your car to make sure a stranger or stalker isn’t waiting to rape and/or kill you?
-do you get nervous when you step into a full elevator, worried that someone might touch you in an unwanted and sexual way?
-do you think twice before going somewhere you are unfamiliar with, in case there are dark corners for bad people to hide in?
-do you feel like you’re being watched in a disgusting, lustful way by men of all ages all the time?
-do you remind yourself that yelling “fire” is more likely to garner help than yelling “rape” when you feel like someone is following you?
-do you carry your keys in your hands, extended between your fingers as you make a fist when you walk home after dark?
-do you avoid making eye contact with strangers for fear that they will misread your friendliness for a sexual advance and then rape you?
-do you wonder, whenever you’re in a group, how many of the people with you have raped someone, or have been raped?
-do you have any idea what it’s like to feel like you’re the constant target of society’s violent sexual urges and need to control?

Ladies? Gentlemen?

But cheer up, there are lots of ways you can help!

-Don’t rape anyone: passed out, drunk, wearing next-to-nothing, came onto you before, had sex with you before, started a sexual encounter and then changed her/his mind, is underage… just don’t.
-If that isn’t clear, read this.
-If you still don’t get it, watch this.
-Don’t tell rape jokes.
-Don’t use the word rape to complain about the way your school, bank, job, or government is treating you.
-Don’t let your friends get away with telling rape jokes. Explain to them why it is hurtful, wrong and dangerous.
-Don’t let your friends get away with using rape to complain about institutions.
-If you hear someone bragging about a sexual assault or rape, call the police.
-If you’re in public and you hear/see someone harassing/assaulting someone else, call the police.
-If you hear/see domestic violence taking place, call the police.
-March in rallies for human rights, healthcare, immigration rights, economic freedom and marriage equality.
-Call or email your lawmakers and tell them to end the backlog of untested rape kits in your local police departments.
-Call or email your lawmakers and tell them to support the International Violence Against Women Act.
-Sign this petition to demand that the FBI change the definition of rape from “The carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will” to something that includes date rape, oral, anal and statutory rape, rape with an object, finger or fist and rape of men.
-And share this post, and the many others out there like it written by feminist who are tired of being afraid, with anyone who can and will read it. Thanks for your support!

About feministactivist

Many words describe me but none more so than activist. I am dedicated to equality of all people and have a special focus on gender issues including reproductive justice, sexual violence, and strategic nonviolent action. View all posts by feministactivist

4 responses to “Am I just paranoid, or…

  • Fight the Police

    Hey–I just got back to your post. . I am also thrilled that you find false rape to be even “actual” because most self identified feminists switch into immediate denial mode when I bring it up.

    That acknowledgement of it as a fact is very affirming, and tells me that you have come far in your journey.

    I do take an active stance against rape on a daily basis, but I have to address other root causes that aren’t so easy to look at, whicg definetely challenge feminist orthodoxy.

    Your response is refreshing, and whole.

    Yeah, keep up the good work.

  • Fight the Police

    The answer to your question is yes and no.
    Does that help?
    Now stop the hysterics….
    Sigmund Freud

    But in all seriousness, the answer is that you are not paranoid, you are realistically cautious, and realistically, overly cautious. Modern society has bred this cautiousness into you, and it will not leave you anytime soon.

    The good news is that the early ancestors of humans very likely had some version of the same caution, however, in a more ape like form, the females had periods–and I do mean periods! where they were not only likely realistically cautious, but ironically, anticapatory of being ‘mounted’ by one or more males during their periods of sexual receptivity.

    The upside: probably great monkey fucking. The downside? Not all male monkeys are great monkey-fuckers, especially the alphas.

    The absolute irony? Females of our species likely doomed themselves by choosing alphas for way too long, and left their own alpha instincts behind–leading not only to heightened rape fear and anxiety caused by too many alphas ( some ape around every corner wants to poke me!!!) but also , as is the current trend, females socially stigmatize ‘every male’ for the actions of alphas.

    And if its true that women should “be able to wear whatever they like, etc.,” then exactly to whom is your appeal for protection?

    Of course: your appeal is to alpha males, police power, etc., who pre-preemptively shit all over non-alphas, so you don’t have to! wHICH LEAVES YOU STUCK IN AN ENDLESS LOOP-appealing for protection from alphas, because betas–the often more gentle, more sentient, more compassionate males who can work with you, are usually too put off by feminist activism that discounts the rape fears that males endure.

    From the birth to death, the male is socialized to fear physical pain inflicted by alpha females, and alpha males; to ‘man up’and not feel it; and to never ever ever admit that rape fear is primary to all fear: because after all, rape anxiety begins with “fear.”

    Rape begins with fear, then leads to violence, then leads to rape.Men are at points 1 and 2 all the time ( rape readiness), whereas women are shocked when the3y discover 1 and 2, and extrapolate it immediately to 3.

    So stay away from alphas–if you can,because they are often the mirror image of women’s Lacanian appeal to power– and stop laying your rape anxiety at the feet of innocent men that the last generation of female alphas shit all over…!

    Most importantly, now IS the time to take a stand against false rape allegations because frankly, we have all heard about one sided, carefully crafted, CIA-agency-feminist orchestrated social control through rape fear for three decades now, and *it’s getting old* and losing your potentially best allies–men who know what it feels like.

    • feministactivist

      Thank you for your response Fight the Police. It was mostly a rhetorical question but your analysis of rape fear is interesting.

      I totally agree that men and women and transgender people all need to be aligned in the fight against sexual violence and having allies is so important in the fight for justice. I too think false rape allegations are an abomination, BUT, I would take any individual at his/her word when saying s/he had been raped because too many, much too many survivors of rape don’t have the strength to come forward precisely because they believe their story will be dismissed as a lie and they will get no justice. And I don’t know anyone who would self-identify as a feminist who would called the CIA a feminist organization.

      Lastly, I want to clarify that I was, in no way, appealing to anyone for protection. I am a grown-ass woman capable of taking care of myself. That being said, there are calls to action for men and women near the end of the post to help eliminate rape and its acceptability. Thanks for contributing!
      Feminist Activist

  • WhitneyCarter

    Thank you for posting and for raising awareness. Not enough people take the time to try and understand, or pay attention.

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