Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Dear Patriarchy,

Thank you for always being there to make sure I know my place. I'm always surprised how you can be everywhere at once. Doesn't it make you tired? Seeking me out to hush me up? Why am I not entitled to my opinion? Am I not allowed to feel violated? Bull. I am allowed to look at events and take them personally. When a man enters a building and kills women at gunpoint, I look at that from a woman's perspective-- so sue me! I know I am not alone. I am not alone. Why can't you see I'm not alone? I AM NOT ALONE! Yet you try and make me alone. You try and make me wrong. Make me crazy. I'm a hippie. I make it all about women. You have facts and I just have feminism. Right?


Stop trying to make me small. Stop coming at me everywhere. You're on the news. You're in my classrooms. You're in my oval office making laws about my uterus and what I can do with it. You're in the words of friends, questioning, mocking. LEAVE ME ALONE. I am me. I need a space to write my feelings, my questions. My mind is so full of anger. But I don't want to be that woman that says "I hate men." I don't but I am tired of comments I can't publish, threatening me. Talking about how they'll take my life. "Make me shut my cunt mouth."

I'm tired of defending my opinions to "you" because you think you know more. Because it's never about an honest discussion-- it's about you teaching me a lesson. You don't read my thoughts assuming that you could learn something about me, about women's issues. You go in with a pre-conceived notion of what I am, what I know, how I'm WRONG. I don't want to defend myself to you, on any level.

Tonight I "took back the night." And I took back myself. I threw away the doubt you put in my mind. I let myself believe I really was blowing things out of proportion. But surrounded by all these other women and their stories, I am reminded that I am not alone in recognizing the full circle of women's issues. There is plenty in our society that is connected. Women's issues are human issues. The same violence that injures our mothers, daughters, wives... affects men, our friends, brothers, sons and fathers. I do seek a better world for all. I don't draw attention to issues to say "look at the big bad men vs. the innocent, good women" --- I say LOOK AT THIS. IT'S HURTING US ALL.

You can't try and convince me that our society has an healthy relationship with women. Not by a long shot. I worked in the shelters. I hear the same jokes at the bar that you do. I see the same behaviors. I hear my girlfriends talk. I compiled the statistics about sexual assault and D.V. myself. In my home state the numbers are climbing not falling.

I am entitled to my views and I don't want to continue explaining why you are wrong. I realize that sounds arrogant. But I don't care. Certain things are that black and white. Other things aren't. Our society is abusing women and putting them down. Our society still struggles with classism, heterosexism and racism-- this also relates to sexism against women.

This doesn't mean that if you're a straight, white, Christian male, you're my enemy (quite the contrary seeing as how I'm friends with a lot of people who fit that description) but I ask that you acknowledge that our country's current atmosphere does not marginalize you or trample your civil liberties too often-- at least not based on your religion, sex, orientation or race. Bearing that in mind, please stop trying to "teach me" how the world really works. I live in the world and I'm aware. Believe me. Painfully aware.

This letter demands no reply or apology. It simply is and must be said.

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