Are you a man who read the recent, widely shared piece suggesting that you can leave society’s sexual harassment and abuse woes behind, simply by imagining all women to be former professional wrestler, expert single eyebrow raiser, and crushed velvet suit impresario Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson?
Please don’t do that.
I absolutely understand where the writer of that piece was coming from. I read it as satire about the lengths women are expected to go, the pretzels we must contort ourselves into, to help men not objectify us. I am not trying to drag this writer. I just want to provide a non-satirical counterpoint.
I think that telling men to treat women “like you would treat Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson” fits neatly within the existing paradigm. It assumes that the best way out of this systemic, ubiquitous BS is to participate in this systemic, ubiquitous BS. To reinforce the idea that men naturally engender more respect (and fear) than women do. Taken at face value (stripped of all satire), it actually sympathizes with the plight of a man grappling with how to interact with the potentially sexual object that is Any Woman At All Times. “Superimpose something More Like You on top of me,” it says, tacitly confirming that femaleness is dangerous and distracting and Not The Default, and that it must be cloaked in a dude mask in order to make the world safe from sexism.
I want to walk through the world as a woman without fear. I don’t want to assume that men are so weak, they need to play a weird pretend game just to not abuse me. Y’all are stronger than that.
So men, if you must, feel free to picture ME doing this (I’m really good at it):
Go ahead. But don’t picture me AS The Rock, or literally anyone other than me. I own my place in the world.
I don’t want to participate in these stupid rules, I want to