We, the women, are victimized by everything. Which is why it is very easy to write an article about yet another instance in our daily lives that makes of us perennial, distressed, abused, coerced, miserable, powerless victims. Anything at all that happens is, by default, evidence of your subjection. (Why anybody in their right mind would want to think of themselves in this way is a subject for another discussion, of course.)
I know all this, but I’m still floored every time when I encounter yet another article on how women are abused by the universe. Reader Julie has alerted me to a post that discusses how being greeted can be abusive, offensive, harassing, and wrong:
So hello leaves me unsure, constantly second-guessing myself, not wanting to be all “uppity” but not wanting to leave myself open to uncomfortable situations. When I hear a vulgar comment on the street, I know how to react (or, rather, not react). When I hear hello, I feel caught. For as much as hello is a greeting, hello can also draw the lines clearly. Hello can mean: I am a man, you are a woman, and I am saying hello to acknowledge not your humanness but your womanness. Hello can mean: I feel I have a relationship with you, even though we’re total strangers, and the entire extent of that relationship is that I am in a role in which I am allowed to try to start a conversation and your choices are limited to appearing to ignore me or to play along with this conversation you made no indication of wishing to start. Hello assumes a familiarity; hello asks for acquiescence.
I have to ask at this point: is it possible for a man to breathe in a way that does not make a woman feel harassed? Observe also how the post’s author neatly inscribes herself into the very patriarchal stereotype of women as delicate flowers who cannot go through the simplest tasks without suffering an emotional collapse:
I’m tired of—literally, I am emotionally exhausted by—feeling as though I need to parcel out attention to people merely because they’ve asked. And because it’s not people but men who make up the vast majority of the askers—and women their answerers—it becomes a feminist issue.
If a woman is “emotionally exhausted” from saying “hi” to people on the street, what will happen to her if she has to lead a country, manage a huge corporation, conduct a triple bypass, fly an airplane? The poor little lady will surely just fall apart completely. Let’s just keep these weak, poor creatures locked up in the kitchen lest the emotionally exhausting business of having a life strains their puny little energies too much.
People have suggested that I react to things differently because of my autism. That might just be true. So I’d like to ask my neurotypical readers: do you also analyze every casual greeting at such length and see what you can read into it? I usually have so many things to think about that anybody’s “hello” barely even registers. If this is not the same for most other people, I’d love to know that.
Also, I want to draw everybody’s attention that all these posts about how a woman is victimized every second of the day come from completely different, unrelated blogs. So please don’t tell me that it’s just one freaky website that produces this garbage. It isn’t. This is what North American feminism has turned into. What’s tragic is that actual victims of harassment – which is a really nasty crime that hurts countless people – have their very true suffering trivialized by being put in the same category with folks who are victimized by a “hello.”