Last week, Mark Cuban, the NBA owner I love to hate the most (and when I say I hate, I mean in the distanced from reality, hyperbolic way that doesn’t impugn my Christian character), said some stupid stuff.
He’s been defended by men of every size and color. He’s been vilified by the same. I don’t really care what Cuban says, because he has exactly zero influence on my life. But, in talking with my husband about his comments, I made a case for the prejudice some people have for the copiously inked. These men who have tattoos from the tops of their heads to the soles of their feet. Cuban had said these guys, especially, for some reason, the ones with bald heads, can seem particularly threatening.
I said, no. They’re not more inherently threatening than other guys.
My husband resisted. “You don’t think that’s scarier?”
“Than what? In Cuban’s scenario, he walks to the other side of the street if he’s walking alone at night. If that’s me, every guy is a potential threat. Tats or not.”
He conceded. I like being right.
Just today, I was running my usual route. I see lots of people when I run on this trail. Today, after the weekend shootings in California, which had a particularly misogynist origin (allegedly), I felt a tiny bit more alert as I jogged past two young men walking. I noted their race, size, clothing.
I do this everywhere now. It’s a habit I acquired after an attempted assault while running last spring. The point is: I was made an object for someone else.
And this is why #YESALLWOMEN matters; because even the good guys, like my liberated husband can’t comprehend the scope of the systemic objectification. He has the luxury of picking and choosing which guy might be more of a threat. To all women, every guy is a potential attacker.
I could tell you that most junior high aged girls have experienced the “boys will be boys” harassment of a bra strap snap or a joke about her period. I could make the case that the female body has become low hanging fruit for public disgrace and discourse: it is the brunt of your joke or your derision.
I could tell you that women continue to get paid drastically less than their male counter parts. (Yes, that again.) I could tell you that for some reason, her time is worth les than his, even though they both have children at home. As if she is more expendable to the company because her Fallopian tubes interfere with her efficiency or something.
I could tell you that for every rape that’s reported, vast numbers go unreported because she will be asked: “What were you wearing? How much had you been drinking? Did you put yourself in a bad situation?” As if being raped were her decision.
I could tell you that as much as we need to train our daughters not to take any crap, we need to be teaching our sons not to be the source of so much crap. That boys are not off the hook here. That what girls wear does not make them rape. (and again, the refrain: RAPE IS NOT ABOUT SEX.) That his desire (or anger or fear or impotence) does not create a free pass for abuse, assault, or run of the mill, every day sexism.
What I will say, again, is that feminism is not about bra burning, or hating men or growing out your armpit hair. It’s about believing the actual fact that women are people. People. Humans.