The Time Traveler’s Vagina

This post was originally going to be titled, “Slurpee Summer” or something cute like that. I was going to write about how in two upcoming relay races (next weekend’s Ragnar Northwest Passage and August’s Hood to Coast) I am running Legs 7 and 11, respectively. AND today is 7/11, which means it’s Free Slurpee Day at 7-Eleven and oh, the serendipity!

But that’s all you get to hear (right now at least) about two awesome events that I am breakfast casserole levels of excited about (that’s a lot excited if you’re unfamiliar with my breakfast casserole fixation). Maybe this is good news. Maybe you’re stoked to NOT hear about running from me for once. I bet after what I’m about to unleash, you’ll feel otherwise. Because guys, it’s one big ball of ragey badness in my brain right now and it has only subsided the tiniest amount since this morning. So what you get now is this. And a blog title reflective of my feeling that the only possible explanation for what is going on right now is that we have – all of us together – somehow traveled back in time to a place where what is happening around us in this country is somehow acceptable. It is the only explanation.

This morning, a lot of stuff that has been bothering me a little bit all rose up and punched me in the gut a lot bit when I read several stories about a woman named Anita Sarkeesian who has been the target of some online vitriol so unbelievable that, well, it’s almost unbelievable. Except that it really happened. The offense she committed so grievous as to incur this abusive wrath? She launched a Kickstarter project to raise money so she could study and make a video series about “tropes vs women in videogames”. How dare she! The sheer volume of what she has been subjected to in the wake of her efforts is so uncalled for that it can’t simply be chalked up to a few maladjusted man-children who never got the girl. And one of the worst parts? This shit is pretty much par for the course these days.

I’m going to link to some stuff now in the event that you are not familiar with all the incidents I’m talking about. I hope that you are familiar with at least some of them and not just if (or even especially if, I’d argue) you’re a woman. You shouldn’t have to possess a vagina to care about crappy treatment of people who do.

First (okay, maybe not first, but this is where I’m starting so that we’re not here all day), Rush Limbaugh was a dick to Sandra Fluke. And technically, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) was a dick to Sandra Fluke even before Rush was by denying the initial request to let her testify at a congressional hearing about insurance coverage for contraception.

Then, a bunch of Republicans (not ALL Republicans, but a whole bunch of them) were dicks to women all over the country.

Next, the Michigan House of Representatives was a dick to Representative Lisa Brown for daring to offend the delicate sensibilities of her fellow legislators by uttering the word “vagina” on the House floor.

Last week, comedian Daniel Tosh was a dick to a woman in the audience during a performance and suggested that it would be hilarious if she were to get raped by five guys right then and there. Oh, and there were also the rape joke apologists who came quickly to his defense. I’m not going to link to that shit because, well, screw those people.

And then there’s the previously mentioned treatment of lady gamer, Anita Sarkeesian.

What the FUCK, people? And you know what, as much as I’m not sorry for saying that, I also am sorry for it. Often overused, profanity is a lazy way to express oneself. That may be true of me here, but I really don’t know any other way to convey my utter dismay at the state of things. And yeah, I know that ladies aren’t the only ones who are having a rough time and fighting marginalization on a few different fronts and I also know that it would be incredibly reductive and short-sighted of me to blame it all on the mens and the Republicans. But seriously, people. What the hell?

A few weeks ago I was on the streetcar on my way home from work. In the few seconds of silence between songs on my iPod, I became aware of a conversation happening around me. A woman with a very noticeable black eye had gotten on a few stops earlier and two men were giving her a hard time about it. I’m guessing that before I tuned in to their conversation, one of the guys had asked her about it. By the time I started listening, what may possibly have begun as a polite (if invasive) inquiry had devolved into the men saying things like, “Guess you didn’t fight back hard enough” and, “I bet you deserved it!” The woman held her own in terms of dishing it back to them, but she got off the streetcar quickly and (I’m guessing, based on her behavior) earlier than she intended to. I didn’t get involved and I have regretted it every time I’ve thought about the incident since. Next time I find myself in a similar situation, you can be damn sure I’ll be speaking up.

I thought about that woman this morning as I read the stuff about Anita Sarkeesian while on the streetcar again, and as all of this lingering frustration came to a swirling boil inside me. I don’t have the answers. I hesitated even to write this because despite a strong desire to, I’m not sure I have anything new to add to the discourse. There are women and men the world over thinking and talking and writing about and even acting on ways to combat the hate and fear that lead people to think they have the right to treat people badly, the right to tell others what they can and cannot do to and with their own bodies and the right to make rape jokes and then get pissed when people are angry about it. These people think and talk and write and act much more articulately and effectively than I do. But if I don’t get pissed and I don’t at least commit myself to speaking up the next time I witness something like I did on the streetcar, then what?

I’m not sure where or how any of this ends. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s entirely tied to what we decide on November 6 about the future occupant of the White House. I wish it was that easy. More than anything I wish it was as simple as all of us collectively getting our shit together and just treating each other well. Not even perfectly, but better than we are right now.

The only way that I am going to feel better than I do right now is if in two weeks I haven’t read something that I want to add to the list up above of crappy stuff that’s happened. And I know that’s just not going to happen.

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One thought on “The Time Traveler’s Vagina

  1. Pingback: Telluride Film Fest Day 1: Lessons I never learned from the bear in The Revenant | H Y P E O X I A

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