Baby, I’m With You

This one is for the ladies. Not one in particular, but I am trying to spark conversation concerning specific topics. Ladies, I understand your pain. I rationalize, contemplate and reflect, but I’ll never experience. My knowledge is limited because of this. Even with this in mind, I am in awe at your strength and resilience. I know it’s an uphill struggle with no end in sight. Believe me when I say I wish things weren’t the way they are. Some of the most intelligent and persistent people I know are women. Some of the greatest philosophical works I’ve read were written by women. Some of my greatest life lessons came from the minds & mouths of women. I owe my existence to a woman. I recognize and welcome your existence in this world — it has helped mold me into the person I am today. For this and so many other feats, I applaud the multitudes.

With that being said, let’s get to the grit of why I’m writing this: how I see women being portrayed and perceived on a daily basis. I am not saying that I agree with what I’m about to say necessarily, I am merely recognizing the existence of these damaging tropes and stereotypes. I also understand the conditional existence of the woman; her conditions set out for her by her dominant counterpart. “It’s a man world,” they say. They aren’t entirely wrong. As a male athlete, I often change in public. This is a reflection of dominant masculinity. I can parade around without a shirt on, no questions asked. I have yet to see a woman try to do that. In fact, they are ridiculed for wearing spaghetti strapped shirts. But when we do, they’re called ‘wife-beaters’. How does one participate fully in the world when the very thing we use to describe the world is against them? Popular, dominant discourse portrays women in such an ugly light. When my friends and I talk about having sex with women, we describe it in such violent terms. When referring to the amount of women we have slept with (I know, what a great feat), we say our “kill count”. To sleep with a woman is to metaphorically kill her? Trust me, I know it’s weird. When describing our sexual encounters, we tell one another we “hit it” so well. She cried, but it was probably because she liked it. When someone is dehumanized and turned into an object, awful behavior becomes permissible. You are not doing it to another human, but to an object: something with no feelings. In no way am I saying I’m immune from speaking like this, I’m working on being more mindful towards it. Me writing this also helps me a lot, too. Moreover, I understand the logic behind why people behave in certain ways, but in no way am I condoning it. The comprehension of this logic helps me shape my own perception and behavior.

It’s a shame that women tend to be the crux of most Instagram memes. Next time you’re on it, just study the jokes being shared. They’re not much more than the stereotypes birthed many years ago, only with a contemporary spin. “Irrational”, “crazy”, and “psychotic” women inhabit my Explore tab. Crude and snide jokes reiterate what many take to be true for an entire group of individuals. Remarks concerning the promiscuity of women aid in painting images of women that are gloomy. When a man engages in promiscuity, he’s applauded, but for women — it’s the exact opposite. When a woman reaches status in her position, she’s asked how she got there, as if hard work and talent weren’t the sole determinants. It’s easy to reject these little nuanced occurrences as reflection of a bigger picture. I've been called a “SJW” or social justice warrior so many times — and that’s good. The way these ideas manifest themselves often slip through what we see on a daily basis. The examples are plentiful…if you choose to open your mind and your eyes. In this logical framework, I suppose being an SJW means I’m aware, and I am more than OK with that.

Baby, I’m with you when the government and the law tell you what you can and can’t do with your body. I’m with you when you want to work out at your gym but you’re nervous because you know all eyes will be on you. I’m with you when you want to tell your parents that you don’t want to cook and clean. I’m with you when you’re ready to become more than how you look. I’m with you when you decide to stop letting people say unwarranted things about your appearance. I’m with you when you try to understand why some men attack you when you politely reject them. I’m with you when your family sees your life as something lesser than honor. I’m with you when it seems like your entire existence has become objectified. I’m with you when you’re certain that life isn’t worth living anymore because that boy shared the pictures you sent to him in confidence. I’m with you when your actuality is condensed and quantified into a scale of 10. I’m with you when everything seems fine on the outside, but internally, it’s a mess. I’m with you when you’re ready to dive past the surface and discover your true self in a world of superficiality. I’m with you when they tell you what you can and can’t be. I’m with you when you decide your sexuality isn’t who you are. I’m most with you when you are ready to shed these ideals placed on you — when you’re ready to become who you want to be, not what others want you to be.

Please forgive me for one thing. I don’t and can’t know all the content possibilities here. It is up to you to fill in the missing pieces. I can only speak of what I see — I have yet to experience anything, and I most likely will not. As of late, I’ve considered myself a feminist, and I don’t see myself stopping any time soon. You may agree with some points and disagree with others — and that’s just fine, it’s an opportunity to discuss.

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