As girls grow into women, we’re taught to turn our rage, right to self respect, anger, and passion into sadness, self-pity, and insecurity. Worst of all, we’re taught to direct our hopes for ourselves into hopes for men in our lives to be better to us.
Part of becoming a woman is learning to see yourself as men (are taught to) see you, and this means dismembering yourself. This is part of the objectification process that we endure, that threatens to consume us, that we must resist.
It doesn’t matter what he thinks about you when he’s busy treating you like shit.
Find men who fuck up to practice on, christ, practice saying no to them, practice saying fuck you to them when they fuck up, practice calling them out on their shit when they’re shit, and do not swallow your rage – it belongs right there like a slap on his cheek, a punch to his teeth – not because he needs to grow. not because you’re a lesson for him.
but because you need to practice.
you need to fight, girl, and how.
you must practice and fight for what you are entitled to in ways men do not have to because they are taught they are entitled to everything – in particular their rage, and their opinions of women.
in particular, their views for which bits of you are desirable and which bits are disposable.
The worst untrue thing he can say to you and about you is nothing you haven’t said to yourself.
The worst totally true thing you could say to him is something he hasn’t even thought of.
You use his ass as a learning opportunity – not for learning which men are good and which are bad and which are children and which are adults – this is impossible to tell – but for yourself: a learning opportunity to know your boundaries.
The other day, I met a man and he talked to me about aikido and then described his past girlfriends as “serious but crazy” and I smiled my razor smile and he kept talking, until he slowly started tripping on his words and I let him finish his story about crazy women and it ended with his voice fading, because girl, your eyes, like mine,
are sometimes air and
and if he can’t meet them,
he won’t know if it’s air in his lungs or too much soot,
but you will.
and your lips are steel and he knows your smile can cut, and if he doesn’t,
the bladed smile he never knew existed – make him think
of that smile the next time he tells a girl to smile,
or hears a man tell a girl how he’d rather her be –
make him gulp and run his hand over his throat,
because he knows he risks getting
his jugular cut on just the thought of your lips.
When he finished, I said, still smiling:
“1. I don’t like it when men call women crazy.”
him, turning red, looking down: “you’re right – I’m really sorry, I kind of felt like – I didn’t mean – I just – ”
“2. You don’t know my mental health history.”
him, ashen and ashamed: “Look, I’m really sorry -”
“3. Those relationships you were in sound toxic, unhealthy, overwhelming, and codependent. And I’m sorry you and your partner went through that.”
Here’s what I’m saying: every fuck up dude you meet is a free learning session for you about yourself that will help you invest in yourself better – and eventually, will teach you to what degree you want to invest in relationships with anyone.
This is a chance for you to learn about your personhood. What you deserve. Where your lines are. What respect looks like. (And when those lines are clear, you will find yourself offering compassion in some situations because a) no one is perfect, and because b) you will know better why you are offering that kindness and it won’t be because you’ve been forced to do it your entire life. In the situation above, he and I had a perfectly pleasant conversation after that fuck up moment. I was able to be compassionate, realise he wasn’t perfect, but also that ok, this is something he needs to think harder about. In the past, I’d have been really upset/unable to continue/felt totally silenced and insecure.)
Do not lose your rage. Do not lose your self respect. Do not lose your anger. Be a bitch and be a witch and be passionate. Do not barter your personhood for his comfort. Do not hope for his growth through you – this is rare, and strange and good when it happens but he definitely doesn’t deserve your hope for him to be better – no one deserves that unless they’ve proven it to you with actions.
so hold those motherfuckers accountable for all their shit.