I have not written a blog in a long time. The world has changed in many, many ways. We won't go into all that, but i think this topic is something that definitely relates to our general situation in the world.
I find a lot of people tend to live their lives crouched in this defensive posture waiting for someone to wrong them. They are always on guard and alert for the slightest attack waiting for anyone to give them even the slightest offense. You can see this clearly whenever any issues of race or bias against women comes up. We have some serious issues in this country, the world in general actually. Women for example go through a lot of things. In this country alone 1 in 3 women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. Every woman i know who works at festivals, OK, actually just every woman i know, has lost track of the amount of times that she has been made to feel uncomfortable by a man or approached with attention she was not interested in. I have been working in interactive theater since 1997 and i can remember the one creepy stalker i had. One... since 1997. Every woman i know who works at these same shows has lost track of the amount of times this type of thing has happened. This is a bigger problem for women than it is for men.
When you bring this up however, there is always a response from a pretty large segment of the male population to tell you that they should be allowed to talk to women and that they are not like this. They also are quick to let you know that men go through this stuff too. Men do get raped sometimes and sexually harassed. But, in this area, it is something that is easier for me in my life because i am a guy. I do not live my life thinking about the fact that someone may be trying to assault me in every interaction i have with a stranger. I am not sure what the impulse to get defensive is with these things. For some men, i would imagine that they are probably a guy who does some untoward things and this is a guilty reaction. I have also seen this response from men who i am pretty sure are not the type of guy who does this sort of thing. They often times are looking out for the "good and decent guys out there." I imagine they also have felt rejected at times and that that was not warranted.
The problem with this reaction if you are not someone who believes it is all right for women to go through this on a daily basis is, when you point out that decent guys should be able to talk to women, you are giving support to the jerk who is reading you or hearing you. If you are a decent human who respects people, you are not who we are talking about. You don't need to feel guilty, you don't need to diminish what women go through. When someone tells you that they are going through a thing and you chime in saying that you go through thess things too, or "it is not me!" you are belittling their concern, their pain. Don't play devil's advocate. Don't chime in to defend the guys who do not do bad things to women. They don't need you to. They do not do bad things to women. You don't have to tell us you don't do bad things to women. When you start getting very defensive about it it sounds like you think it is OK and we start wondering if maybe you are a guy who thinks a woman owes you her time or her body. One thing you should feel guilty about is feeling that you being upset because someone turned you down is what you think about and not the fact that the reason why women often are on their guard is because 1 in 3 of them will be assaulted in their life. Your bruised ego is not as bad as that! Bear that in mind when you complain about the friend zone or the fact that someone did not want you talking to them.
This is an area where we do need to be a little less thin-skinned. When someone is talking about people who are sexist or racist or bigoted against a religion, they are not saying you specifically are. If your child comes into the house bleeding, don't get defensive and say, "I did not cut you, i get cut too. I have had a lot of really bad cuts in my life so yours is not really that bad. Stop whining about being cut." Some people have had experiences you have not had and when you start being in a defensive mode and dismissive you are rejecting their experience and pain.
My parents had great parents. My grandfather came back from World War 2 and was able to get the GI Bill, because he was a white guy, and lived in a great neighborhood with good schools. He had an awesome house and steady job. This put my parents in a great position. A black man coming back from WWII would not have had that same option. That man might have wound up living in an area with drug problems and been scraping to get by. His kids might have had to work extra hard to stay away from drugs and gangs. I was able to get through college without debt, partially because of what my grandparents left me, partially because i was able to get a good job. The grandchildren of the black man from WWII might not have had that same luxury. This does not mean i am a bad person or did not work hard, but i had some privilege. It is OK for me to see that. I don't have to diminish what another person had to go through and let them know how bad my story was too.
I have worked incredibly hard to create my business, to get through college and earn my credentials for martial arts teaching. That is another story though and i won't pretend i don't have bonus points over someone who grew up in the inner city in a family that was scraping by. I also do not need to justify that when someone tells me what other people go through. Black people have it harder than me in this country. That is a fact. Women have it harder than me on a daily basis. That is a fact. LGBTQ people have it harder than me on a daily basis in this country. That is a fact. I can understand that and not take it as a personal attack on me. It does not mean i do not have hard times. It does not mean that there might be a day where a woman has a better day than me. It does mean that in some significant ways, i have bonus points. They exist.
We also need to remember that we are a part of this thing together. If we want to say we fought off the British in the Revolutionary War, we won World War II, we put a man on the moon... then we also have to say, we had the worst system of slavery the world has ever seen, we committed a genocide in the West and put bounties on the heads of Native men, women and children, we don't take care of our veterans, etc. We have done all those things as a country. It is still an amazing country. Better than most for sure. But we have our demons and it is all right to acknowledge them. It is necessary to acknowledge them or we do not get anywhere.
I am also very deeply sorry for the heinous things we have done. Not sorry in the sense that i did this to these people. But sorry in the sense of the Spanish lo ciento. I feel it. I am sorry people had to go through these things. I feel a common bond of human suffering with you and i will do what i can to be an ally and make it right.
So in the future... if you see a post from a woman or a transgender person, or a black man or someone who says that they go through some shitty things.... don't tell them that it is not you or let them know how hard what you go through is too. They are not personally attacking you. Unless that is you... then maybe your response is guilt. Think about it. Take 15 minutes to let this sink in before you respond.