Have you ever heard the phrase cockblocking? You know, you’re at a bar, talking to a girl, and what happens? Her less attractive friend comes over and ruins everything. Cockblock. Well I have to tell you something guys: I have been the less attractive friend, and you were NOT cockblocked. I was following orders from my better-looking friend that she did not wanna fuck you. …Girls have two signals for their friends: ‘I’m gonna fuck him’ and ‘HELP.’
The number of “get me out of here” tactics women have developed and shared to help each other escape from overly-insistent-to-borderline-predatory dudes in public places should probably be enough evidence of the existence of rape culture all on its own.
I especially like how, in the majority of cases, you don’t have to verbally communicate what your signals are to other women. I’ve had women I didn’t even know come save me. Literally every woman recognizes the “Dear god, help me” facial expression, and knows exactly what they should do. We don’t get a handbook for this. We don’t have a sit-down nail polish party where we talk about a standardized woman code for preventing creepers. It’s just part of being a woman.
BUT LOL RAPE CULTURE DOESN’T EXIST.
Yup. I’ve definitely taken strangers by the arm and pulled her aside to go, “Oh my GOD it’s you! How ARE YOU?!? It’s been so long!” and then been like “hey I could overhear that guy who wouldn’t leave you alone so I figured I’d give you an out” and then see their VISIBLY RELIEVED expressions. This is part of girl code, because rape culture is that pervasive.
I once had a girl sit on my lap and say “hey baby” after she witnessed a guy (who was easily 20+ years older than me) hitting on me and harassing me for my number even after I told him I was taken. After he got up and left she asked if I was okay. I couldn’t thank her enough times, I even bought her a drink.
We have done this. In fact, we are this. Because we are asexual and we don’t like alcohol so we never drink, we have gone with friends to parties/places where our sole job was to keep an eye out for everyone and be the permanent ‘aggressive man-sheild.’ Not one of our female friends has ever questioned this or found it all strange. In fact, often once they realized we were willing to do it, it would be pre-arranged. Every guy friend we ever did this in front of or tried to explain to looked flabbergasted. They had no idea that this was a) an intentional thing, b) a planned ahead thing, or c) universal.
Rape culture is the fact that every woman understands this. Male privilege is the fact that no guy on earth seems to know or understand.
A boy sprawled next to me on the bus, elbows out, knee pointing sharp into my thigh.
He frowned at me when I uncrossed my legs, unfolded my hands
and splayed out like boys are taught to: all big, loose limbs.
I made sure to jab him in the side with my pretty little sharp purse.
At first he opened his mouth like I expected him to, but instead of speaking up he sat there, quiet, and took it for the whole bus ride.
Like a girl.
Once, a boy said my anger was cute, and he laughed,
and I remember thinking that I should sit there and take it,
because it isn’t ladylike to cause a scene and girls aren’t supposed to raise their voices.
But then he laughed again and all I saw
was my pretty little sharp nails digging into his cheek
before drawing back and making a horribly unladylike fist.
(my teacher informed me later that there is no ladylike way of making a fist.)
When we were both in the principal’s office twenty minutes later
him with a bloody mouth and cheek, me with skinned knuckles,
I tried to explain in words that I didn’t have yet
that I was tired of having my emotions not taken seriously
just because I’m a girl.
Girls are taught: be small, so boys can be big.
Don’t take up any more space than absolutely necessary.
Be small and smooth with soft edges
and hold in the howling when they touch you and it hurts:
the sandpaper scrape of their body hair that we would be shamed for having,
the greedy hands that press too hard and too often take without asking permission.
Girls are taught: be quiet and unimposing and oh so small
when they heckle you with their big voices from the window of a car,
because it’s rude to scream curse words back at them, and they’d just laugh anyway.
We’re taught to pin on smiles for the boys who jeer at us on the street
who see us as convenient bodies instead of people.
Girls are taught: hush, be hairless and small and soft,
so we sit there and take it and hold in the howling,
pretend to be obedient lapdogs instead of the wolves we are.
We pin pretty little sharp smiles on our faces instead of opening our mouths,
because if we do we get accused of silly women emotions
blowing everything out of proportion with our PMS, we get
condescending pet names and not-so-discreet eyerolls.
Once, I got told I punched like a girl.
I told him, Good. I hope my pretty little sharp rings leave scars.