The other night, I had the displeasure of talking to a few men the other night that truly seemed to believe that a) feminism was wrong and b) that women have more rights than men. The ‘gentlemen’ that I was speaking to seemed utterly convinced that because nothing bad has happened to them, it’s ludicrous that any woman should feel unsafe. They also went on a tirade about how “feminism is poison” and when a man got involved, only attacked me (yeah … and we don’t need feminism, huh?). When I tried telling him about Crazy Coat Guy, the response was not, “Holy shit, how did it take almost a year for that guy to get ‘no’?” or not even a dismissive, “That sucks, but surely you know not all men are like that.”

No. Instead, his response was, “Well, I’ve dated ten crazy women.” (As if it’s a competition.)

**I would also like to admit that this is a conversation I’ve had with several men, several times, over and over and over again – which is why I’m now writing about it. Maybe it will help get an important message across.**

Resisting the overwhelming desire to question what he defines as ‘crazy’ (as so many men put this label on women unfairly. Don’t get me wrong, I know plenty of women myself who are bat shit insane – but I’ve also seen women get labelled crazy for being ‘too emotional’ or confused when a guy lies to them and they want to know why. Not in a crazy way, just in a what the fuck just happened way?), I casually mentioned it was more than just Crazy Coat Guy – I was just using him as an example to illustrate a point. One that he clearly missed.

I didn’t want to play the ‘trump’ card (or ‘victim’ card, depending on how you look at it) and explain the abusive ex saga.

I didn’t want to mention the guy from uni who called me a ‘slut’ and a ‘bitch’ because I rejected him.

Or the guy, also from uni, who used to stand outside my window at three in the morning confessing his love for me and sneaking ‘love’ letters through the cracks of my doors before my male housemate had to intervene.

I didn’t want to say that these were unwarranted, unjustified ‘attacks’ (for want of a better word) and they were not the only ones I’ve experienced. I didn’t want to say that I was too afraid of doing anything, saying anything, because these men had already shown aggressive, hostile behaviour. What if I made it worse? I’d already said no, and stop. No and stop were ignored. Maybe silence would work when words had failed?

I didn’t want to tell him that, for most women, they will share similar stories. That if some men decide they want you, then they don’t hear no. When your no isn’t respected it makes you feel afraid. What might happen if he doesn’t hear me? Why isn’t he hearing me? Will he hurt me if I keep saying no? Will he get angry? (And some men do react in anger if you reject them. I’ve had it happen far more than once.)

I’ve always been friendly, as I definitely wasn’t pretty in high school, and it didn’t get that much better afterwards, so I had to rely on my personality alone. However, my urge to be friendly often became confused with flirting for some men.

So I decided to be less friendly, in order to be ‘safe’.

And now, some men comment on how I’m an unfriendly bitch because I’m polite, and reasonably friendly, but I keep my distance and that’s not okay.

I didn’t want to explain to these men that he was wrong – a lot of women fear walking alone, especially at night.

Hell, I’ve been with girlfriends and I’ve had obscene things said to me (and to them) and that’s when I’ve been part of a group.

I didn’t want to tell him that when I was young, my parents told me that if I was ever being sexually assaulted to yell “Fire!” instead of “Rape!” because people were more likely to care about a fire and come running.

And I was not the only girl taught to do that.

I didn’t say that my brother was never given the same advice because men don’t need to be warned about the dangers of rape – at least, not in the same way women are.

I never told him that, as a woman, I’ve been told a whole host of ‘protective’ information – like keep your keys out so you can scratch your attacker; always have your phone out or pretend you’re on the phone; never wear your hair in a ponytail because it makes you an easier target (easier to grab).

Yes, I felt like saying bitterly, there’s simply no reason for women to be afraid. They’re clearly overreacting.

Oh, and did you know the Australian Sexual Crime Bureau is wrong? It’s 1 in 4 women that are likely to be sexually assaulted in their lifetime – but you’re farmore likely to be killed by a vending machine.

Yes, women, we be cray. Some men seem to know it all. Including death by vending machine statistics, apparently.

Just not sexual assault statistics from a reputable source (all other sources must be lying).

I didn’t tell these gentlemen that, after some of these events mentioned (and others, that were slightly more serious) people questioned me. Was I ever asking for attention? What was I wearing? Was I drinking? Did I lead him on? Don’t I know men can’t control themselves?

I fight for men’s rights. I fight for equality. I fight for same sex marriages and for transgender and transsexual people to not have to live in fear. I fight for people of different of different races, ethnicities and backgrounds. I’ve written limited posts on these topics because as a white, reasonably privileged middle-working class woman who is straight, my life difficulties and experiences are not the same as others. I don’t want to write posts without heavily researching them, or interviewing others, because I don’t want to pretend I know someone else’s experience. I don’t want to take that away from them.

Regardless, however, to me, that’s what feminism is about.

But we need to be realistic.

Yes, men can be raped, too (even by women).

Yes, man can be abused, too (even by women).

Yes, there are privileges that some women have that men don’t.

But, for the most part, while that does need to change, if you are a white, straight, cis male, you are privileged in ways you can’t even comprehend. You benefit from privileges that you don’t even realise exist. You may not have asked for it, but you have it. And you need to accept that there is a privilege. I’ve accepted that as a woman, I’m disadvantaged in many ways. But as a cis, white, straight woman, in a working-middle class environment in Australia? Cry me a river, baby, because my disadvantages only go so far.

And this is a statement coming from a straight, middle-working class white woman who doesn’t know what real suffering can be.

So this is my open letter to men out there that like to troll ‘feminists’ or ‘feminazis’ (as those ignorant arses like to asininely deem women who dare to have opinions).

Stop trying to take away women’s actual experiences. Stop making it about you. Yes, we know it’s not all men. Yes, we know things aren’t equal. Yes, we know bad things can happen to men.

But hijacking news reports about domestic violence or sexual assault, which are major problems in Australia for women and grossly under reported (particularly if you’re not a white middle class woman – racism much?) is not okay. It’s not the way to get your message across – and your message is important, too.

Originally published on The Melodramatic Confessions of Carla Louise.

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Published by Carla Louise