You Are Bigger than Me
What we talk about when we talk about rape
Yet another woman was uppity enough to suggest some changes should be made to even the playing field for people who are not white men, and the usual occurred.
She was told she would be raped.
This has happened quite a few times. And while death threats are weirdly common whenever anyone threatens the status quo online, the threat of rape is especially frightening. Not because it’s the worst thing than can happen to a woman, but because it’s the most likely.
You see, we who fight hard for a right to compete with men in tech or cooking or writing comics or any of the many many careers that have been randomly defined as “for boys” know we are your equals in so many ways but one.
You are bigger than us.
Not all of you, not all of us. But in general. Enough.
And we have walked home at night alone in good neighborhoods and seen you. It wasn’t late. The street was well lit. It wasn’t a bad part of town. You were dressed nicely, maybe listening to your music, not even aware of us. But we felt you, maybe as a slight tingling on the back of our neck. And we heard heavy footfalls, and we looked. And when we saw you were a man, we sped up a little. Moved closer to the street. Looked for other people around.
Because that’s how it works. You are alone, you could be a target. The news tells us so, just as it tells us we should look pretty for you. Any man could be the guy who makes us the one-in-six women who gets raped. And we could be the woman who gets told we shouldn't have walked home alone at night, that we were dressed seductively, that we probably started it.
And we think about the possibility when you join us in the elevator.
When you knock on the door raising money for charity.
When we are walking to our car in an almost completely empty parking garage.
Basically, it can cross our minds anytime we are alone with you, and don’t know you.
Sometimes when we do.
Our stomachs and jaws tighten. We get ready. Because we know you could rape us. And we don’t know if the law will punish you.
We know you know that too.
So when we point out that a conference or a VC firm or top chef has too many men, and we see in the comments our address and promise to come and rape us, we do take it very seriously.
It’s not an internet troll.
It’s not people being stupid.
Please don’t say, “Don’t read the comments.”
Do not tell us to stop “feeding the trolls” or “rocking the boat.”
Please just call the cops.