Why Women Ignore You

I posted this on my FB last night and went to bed. When I woke I found a huge thread of comments. What tipped it all off though was this comment:

“Women really know how to ignore. I don’t understand. Just say no thanks and move on. Why not say anything at all. That just seems unnecessarily mean. He had no reason to start calling names but I’m sure he was seeing her posts and got frustrated.”

Many friends and allies attempted to help this guy understand what the problem was with this thinking. But the conversation that went on because of it, I was reminded of the many times I’ve been sexually harassed, sexually assaulted, and have had to deal with unwanted sexual advances. I thought back on when it started and it literally started in kindergarden, when a man whose wife had just died was brought to our house to stay the night after his wife’s funeral.

He had been drinking and was persistent on how much I looked like his dead wife and asked me repeatedly to share his bed with him… I was a child but felt deeply uncomfortable and scared. My parents had also been drinking and didn’t notice his advances. Luckily I made it to my own room that night and was spared…

A few years later a relative's grandfather began to make advances. Asking me to sit on his lap when no one was around and stroked and groped my pre-pubescent chest… As I entered puberty, his advances became more aggressive. It was the holidays, I was enjoying watching “The Sound of Music” in the living room when everyone but me and the grandfather went shopping.

He was terribly old and slow but when he asked me for a kiss and I just gave him a peck on the cheek, he pulled my head firmly and pushed his lips hard against mine… I pulled away and locked myself in the bathroom. He tried to get in, saying “he needed to wash his hands” and pulling on the door. I refused to open the door until everyone came home. When they did I ran into the basement and cried… when I told my foster family they didn’t do anything. They just said, he’s old.. and we never talked about it again.

Occurrences like these became more and more common as I slowly became a woman. Older men would make advances and I had to find a way to escape the situation… It wasn’t until I was 15 that I found myself in a situation I wasn’t able to get away from. Like the woman Brock Turner raped, I became unconscious at a friend’s party, was dragged into their roommates bedroom and was raped by a man who was 10 years older than me. A man who should have known better. Who seemed nice when I had met him earlier… but I woke in his bed with my pants off. My memories were foggy… but I remember him… raping me… and there was nothing I could do…

I put my pants on and went into my friend’s room and waited for him and his girlfriend to wake up. I told them what happened. They were furious and called my boyfriend right away. I went home, I told my foster family, they did nothing. My boyfriend beat up the guy, but not a few days later they became friends and my BF sided against me. We broke up, and my rapist started having people come to my work to harass me. Even a woman friend of his came and told me I needed to stop saying I was raped… Shortly after I found out I was pregnant. I had an abortion. A few months later I was kicked out of my home and had to quit school…

Slowly I was able to get my life together but I still saw my rapist around town. Sometimes he would ignore me, and sometimes he stared me down. I did my best to ignore him and move on with my life… but I was often fearful of retribution from men. Ex-boyfriend’s sliding pictures of me with my eyes burnt out under my apartment door… men harassing me at work and school because I wouldn’t go to the dance with them, harassment to the point I had to switch schools… Men cat calling on the street because they can and they know there is nothing I can do to stop them…

So often the only way to get through it without things getting worse is to just ignore it in that moment and move on… Ignoring is often a woman’s only defense. I still ignore men but try to educate and share my experiences with others. My hope is when my male friends hear what women have to deal with from birth they are less likely to blame them, dismiss them or side against them. But rather speak up for them, fight for them and help change how women and girls are treated. I also share my experiences for the women who think they must remain silent for fear of retribution, being shamed or because of guilt. I share for the women who believe what they have been told… that they are to blame, it’s their fault, that it’s their responsibility if men treat them badly and they are responsible for men’s sexual urges and behaviour.

Despite my desire to speak up and fight back in the moment it’s as Margaret Atwood said:

“Men are afraid women will laugh at them. Women are afraid men will kill them.”
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