My god the last four weeks have been torture. Of course #metoo and of course I knew intellectually and sometimes experientially that all of this happens all the time, but reading these women's stories again and again and again over the past few weeks has made it harder to get through the day.
I know #notallmen, but I have to admit, I wake up and read the news, and I find myself saying, my god, men are disgusting. The stories are not only the stories of women's abuse, they are glimpses into the dirty, filthy minds of men, and it's affecting me in ways I would never have anticipated. I go into town to go to the store and I look at every man and wonder what he's thinking. A man looks at me, and I want to scream "You'd better not be thinking things about me!" I don't know if women are just as dirty; perhaps some are. I know that I do not have these thoughts about other people. I am no prude, I love sex, and when I'm in bed with someone, I think about what I'd like to do to the other person, and what I'd like them to do to me. But the rest of the time I go through life thinking about other things, and I guess I thought that other people do too (and conveniently blocked out the fact that all men watch porn, and, yes, all men are thinking dirty thoughts most of the time).
The sexual harassment stories have broken my bubble. I can't escape the truth about what might be going through the minds of all the men surrounding me. And the immediate consequence is that I cannot imagine myself having sex with a man ever again, at least I cannot imagine it right now. I realize I'll get over this. And I'm lucky: I'm bi, so I could in fact choose never to have sex with a man and sleep only with women from now on. Oh, the many times I've said this to myself in the past four weeks! I realize too that sex is not the same as sexual harassment, but it's hard for me to separate the sexual acts from the lust for power and the misogyny when reading these women's stories.
I'm writing because I'm curious if I'm the only one or if other women (and perhaps men) are having similar problems dealing with this onslaught of horrors.
Sad About Disgusting Stories
If you don't want to sleep with men, you don't have to sleep with men. No one has to sleep with anyone.
First let me concede, right here at the top, that men are testosterone-soaked dick monsters. I've said it before, SADS, and I'll say it again: men are testosterone-soaked dick monsters. And that testosterone stuff we're soaking in? It's powerful. This American Life dedicated an entire episode to testosterone in 2002, SADS, way, way back when George W. Bush was president and we all thought we were living through the worst presidency in U.S. history. (We were then, we are now.) Griffin Hansbury, a trans man, was interviewed about the changes he experienced when he first started taking testosterone:
The most overwhelming feeling is the incredible increase in libido and change in the way that I perceived women and the way I thought about sex. Before testosterone, I would be riding the subway, which is the traditional hotbed of lust in the city. And I would see a woman on the subway and I would think, 'She's attractive. I'd like to meet her. What's that book she's reading? I could talk to her.' This is what I would say. There would be a narrative. There would be this stream of language. It would be very verbal. After testosterone, there was no narrative. There was no language whatsoever. It was just, I would see a woman who was attractive—or not attractive. She might have an attractive quality—nice ankles or something—and the rest of her would be fairly unappealing to me. But that was enough to basically just flood my mind with aggressive pornographic images, just one after another. It was like being in a pornographic movie house in my mind. And I couldn't turn it off. I could not turn it off. Everything I looked at, everything I touched turned to sex.
Testosterone, which is also present in women's bodies (albeit in much smaller amounts), in no way excuses unwanted touching, tonguing, groping, coercion, sexual harassment, sexual assault, rape, or any other form of sexual violence. In no way, shape, form, or forum. But as a member of the testosterone-soaked dick monster community, SADS, I'm going to risk saying something in our defense.
Most men can move through the day thinking whatever things we're thinking without doing anything we shouldn't be doing. Most men can think things without turning around and doing those things to/with partners who don't want those things done to/with them. And it's #notjustmen who move through life thinking things. Women think things—women get horny, women fantasize, women see people they're attracted to imagine what it would be like to do things to/with those people. Sex and lust are powerful—sex built us and, with an assist from lust, it's building whatever comes after us—and they push all* of us around. And while sex and lust can bring a Roy Moore into our lives, they can also bring good things into our lives. People, relationships, and experiences that we value, not just people, relationships, and experiences that leave us feeling traumatized.
I'm not trying to talk you back into men. If you don't wanna fuck testosterone-soaked dick monsters, SADS, you don't have to fuck any testosterone-soaked dick monsters. But don't let a bunch of horrible true stories, all breaking at once, deprive you of the sexual experiences you want to have and/or the sex partners you want to do things with/to. Sleeping with a particular man—fucking a particular man—isn't tantamount to slapping a seal of approval on all men everywhere. And as Gloria Steinem once said...
What's that? You say two more women have accused Al Franken of groping them? Aw, fuck it. Never mind, SADS. I'm done with men too.
* Well, not all of us.