I’ve been reading all of the #metoo stories over the past week, feeling sadness and outrage and debating whether to pop out from under my rock and weigh in. Do I really want to go there?
Yeah, I think I do.
Actually, I already have (just not in very great detail) in this post where I discussed some of the things that happened to me in my childhood that contributed to an ACE score of 9 (or maybe 9.5?) out of 10, but also in this post.
That latter one might seem rather innocuous – I shared that story as an amusing anecdote about how some of my Asperger’s quirks (aloof with strangers, uncomfortable with eye contact, and advanced language skills at an early age, even if the language was somewhat… colorful..) were already present by the time I was about three years old, if anyone had known what to look for. But there’s another way it could be looked at as well.
Little girls, right from birth, are conditioned by society to be noticed and valued for their physical appearance. Complete strangers will approach and tell us we have ‘pretty eyes’ or ‘you should smile more because you have such a pretty smile’ or some such shit, and we are supposed to be grateful for the attention, and preen for them.
And in case this sounds like an overreaction to a man just being friendly to a small child, re-read it again and this time imagine me as a little boy instead, and you’ll probably think ‘ew, that’s kind of creepy.’
There’s a meme going around right now that a man shouldn’t say anything to a woman that he wouldn’t want another man to say to him in prison, and I would add that you shouldn’t treat little girls in a way that would make you look like a predator if they were little boys.
I am not suggesting that all men who compliment little girls on their looks are pedophiles; I am pointing out that the objectification and sexualization of women starts way before the catcalls and propositions on the street. We have to look beyond the shockingly bad behavior to the subtle things that are considered ‘normal’ that set the stage.
Oh, and by the way, if it’s not already obvious from the first post I referenced, #metoo – I was originally planning to share one of my more unpleasant memories (sad that I was having to pick and chose which one of the many to share) where I was assaulted and not believed, but once I got writing, my brain went in a different direction than I’d planned, and I think I’ll just leave it at that, for now.
Featured Image: Photo of the surface of a pond in autumn. The trees with their vibrant fall foliage are crisply reflected in the still surface, but what lies beneath is murkier and hard to make out.