I Am A 22 Year Old, a Toddler, And A Rotten Apple.
I Am 22
Read the above quote.
Come to your own conclusions about it.
It’s sweet isn’t it? When I first read it, I got the warm fuzzies. My immediate thought was along the lines of, “I just have to wait for my Prince Charming. He will soon come, pluck me off the tree, and sweep me away to a happily ever after. I just have to wait for him!” (Insert swooning squeal here). You see, I am the typical 22 year old woman who loves love. I want to be crazy in love, and I have quite literally fallen flat on my face to get it before. Then, crashing through this fantasy, came my second thought, “… well, shit.”
After putting on my newly acquired toddler feminist lens, I discovered a few things. An outline of my reactions lies here, and maybe for the feminists that are further on in their growth, this will be a child's reaction, but to me, these are ideas that I am just now hobbling toward truly understanding and acting on. If you already know the ins and outs of applying the patriarchy to this quote, skip down to the third part, I Am Rotten.
I Am A Toddler
First, this quote describes females as being apples on trees that are patiently waiting for a man to come and pick them. This is just plain wrong. Women are just as capable of taking the first step and asking a man on a date, or telling them that they are interested in getting to know them better. There is nothing inherently male about starting a relationship. The patriarchy causes the masses to believe that women are objects, good for waiting for a man to take care of them and give them physical and monetary safety. In return, these obedient women will take care of their man, fulfilling them sexually.
This leads to my second point. The quote states “Instead, [boys] just get the rotten apples from the ground that aren’t as good, but easy.” This quote is disturbing partially due to the word “easy”. The patriarchy causes women and their sex life to be meticulously policed by the masses. Women are supposed to be “pure” for their husbands, meaning that they have not had sex with anyone before they get married, and if they haven’t remained pure, they are sluts, or “easy”. However, this same rule does not apply to men. Men are encouraged to have sex; in fact, they are considered manly if they have had sex with a few women, and unmanly if they have not had sex at all. This double standard is incredibly hypocritical. It seems as if women who have not remained sexually “pure” for their husbands are seen as rotten and unworthy, a comparison made within the quote.
The quote is also guilty of excusing boys’ behavior by saying that “they don’t want to reach for the good ones because they are afraid of falling and getting hurt.” Alternatively, maybe these boys are okay with their women being sexually active. Maybe these men put more emphasis on personality, kindness, confidence, empathy, and character than they do on whether or not a girl has had sex before. To say that the greatest trait a woman can have is their purity is ridiculous. Women as a whole should not be judged on one trait that they may or may not have. Women should not be looked at two-dimensionally like that. They are people, and being a person, they are tremendously complex, beautiful, and unique, and they should be treated as such.
Along the same vein, this quote treats men two-dimensionally as well. Just as women are complex, so are men. The quote states that the “right” boy will climb to the top of the tree, and by inference, one could assume that this means that the boys that do not venture up to the top of the tree are wrong. This is an unwarranted critique of men. They can fall in love with whomever they want, “rotten” or not, and no one should judge them based on these highly personal choices.
This quote exposes layers upon layers of injustice that results from the patriarchy. The patriarchy pigeonholes these two specific genders into very strict categories, with incredibly rigid guidelines on what is right and what they should do with their lives. Females do not need to be obedient and patient, rather they can be proactive with their lives, a trait that most should deem desirable in a person. Men should not be forced to carry the family monetarily and judge women on their sex lives. It should be deemed a completely honorable choice to be a stay-at-home dad while the mother follows her expanding and fulfilling career, and the couple’s previous and current sex life should not be anyone else’s business but their own.
I Am Rotten
After rereading my reaction to this quote, I realize that I am constantly catching myself agreeing with sexist ideals and submitting to the patriarchal society that I was raised in. I see myself picking and choosing what I want to follow, and I have found that if the patriarchal idea gives me advantage in some way, then I am less likely to fight it (sounds a lot like blind privilege, don’t you think?). This passage and my reaction to it struck me hard because in reality, I am not one of the good apples. I am not “pure.” I had just assumed I was because of my privilege. I assumed I was because I was raised by loving parents to be confident in myself, to love myself. Now, looking at reality, I realize that in society’s eyes, I am technically rotten.
You see, when I was a freshmen in college, I was gang-raped. My purity was forcibly and brutally taken from me. I became rotten in even my own eyes.This permeated throughout my life. I had trouble sleeping, and I literally and figuratively saw my rapist’s faces around my campus. Jack Daniel’s Whiskey haunted my living nightmare. I cried when touched the wrong way. I was told to hide, to make excuses for my rapists. I was told I shouldn’t have been drunk that night. I was told to “get over it.” I was told “to cover it up, don’t let anyone know, no one can find out about this.”
Now, I can honestly give a giant, much-needed “fuck you” to the men and women that caused me so much pain and then continued it. Their actions and reactions toward me do NOT define me or the reality. I say this not in hate, because hate erodes the soul and I am feebly committing to letting go, but I say this because someday I want to have my own baby girl and this society stands at arms with her safety. If she is ever raped or sexually assaulted, I want her to know that she is not rotten. I don’t want her to feel she must hide their actions. And I certainly want the first person she tells to have a better reaction than,”Well okay… but were you drunk?”
I have been asked before why I would want to be a feminist, and here is what it boils down to: The world is full of hidden injustices. I was once a part of one of those hidden injustices and it was living hell. I want to be a part of the movement that is calling for equality among the sexes, justice for the oppressed, justice for the abused, justice for those in the shadows dealing with the aftermath of a rape that they carry silently on their shoulders. I want to promote and fight for a world in which my future daughter can safely feel confident knowing that her worth is not in her purity; it lies in her character, her integrity, but most importantly, her humanity.