I don’t think I should be kept away from electronic devices before bed because the blue light keeps my brain up for too long. I think I should be kept away from them because I have no chance of sleeping when my blood is boiling like this.
In the wake of the terrible murders in Santa Barbara, there have been essays written - two particularly excellent ones here and here - arguments started, and hashtags created. The #YesAllWomen tag has been trending for a while now, used by women to talk about their own experiences of abuse, assault, misogyny and male privilege. Despite the many, many women sharing on this tag, it’s still being dismissed. Obviously, we just. Don’t. Get it.
Silly women. Stupid fucking women, missing the point again. It’s not ABOUT you. Shut your mouths, and stop hating on men, you feminazis. Stop whining. Stop banging on about that stuff. Just… shush.
I am so angry. But more than that, I’m so tired. The anger wells up and then it saps my strength away, and I’m so exhausted that we’re still having these conversations, that I’m still always, always, always, intrinsically and inherently and inarguably bad, just by my gender. By my personhood.
I’m so angry and so tired that when I was eight and a half months pregnant with my first baby, and a man got on the bus after me and told me that he wished the baby was his, and all the ways he’d have got me pregnant, and I asked the bus driver to kick him off, and the bus driver just stopped the bus and turned his face away, that I got off the bus half way to my destination because not one person on that bus thought they’d back up a crying, heavily pregnant 26-year-old woman when a man was shouting aggressive sexual terms at her. I’m so angry and tired when I think of my fourteen-year-old self at a party with some public school boys, who at the end of the night when I didn’t want to do what they wanted, asked me in baffled voices, ‘But why did you think you’d been invited?’ and threw bottle caps at my head until I pretended to go to sleep. I’m so angry and tired when I think of the hundreds, hundreds of times I’ve managed to escape the threat of physical or sexual violence by explaining I already belong to another man (‘Oh, cool, sorry, I didn’t realise you had a boyfriend’) and how that didn’t feel like power, it felt like a foot on the top of my head. I’m angry and I’m tired when I tense up while walking past more than two men, and that I can tell - and have been able to for years - from half a street away whether they’ll say something or not, and I can feel my blood-pressure rise when I know I have to pass them anyway, and I find myself thinking of what I’m wearing, and making a note not to wear that outfit that way again. Because that’s my choice after all - if I don’t like the reaction, don’t wear those clothes. Yeah, totally my choice. And I’m angry and I’m tired at all the stuff I don’t even talk about. To anyone. Because it’s so usual and so common and so pointless to dwell upon because it only makes me angry and tired, and no one can go back and tell that past version of me back then that these things happen, and you could instead try - no. Wait. There is no other way to handle it. Not if you don’t want to get told by any and all authority figures that you shouldn’t have reacted. You shouldn’t have sworn at them. You shouldn’t have told them to fuck off because you were escalating it. And it’s not their fault if they react to that. I feel angry and tired at being taught at a young age by my white, hetero, Tory, middle-class surroundings that ‘disabled black lesbian’ was a punchline, a ridiculous example of liberalism gone mad, rather than a perfect example of how far our patriarchal society will go to explode intersectionality, and turn us against each other when it’s the best example of how they hate women, in one poisonous, brutish nutshell. I feel angry and tired at the thought of my sister saying to me with infinite weariness, ‘But not everything is about feminism, Sam.’ Do you know what? From where I’m standing, as a woman, it fucking feels that way. From music to advertising to film to politics to news reporting to economics to history to business to sports to policing to deep, deep internalised social constructs - it really fucking feels that way.
I feel so angry and tired, angry enough and tired enough that I might never get out of bed again, at the thought of trying to raise my daughters and son better than this. Trying to make them good people. And trying to even imagine how we can make inroads on the bullshit of the world around them.
Answers on a postcard, please.