On Making Amends

I know a woman who’s decided what she needs from men in order to consider working alongside them ever again. She’s been abused and mistreated and crazy-made and isolated, threatened and raped and nearly killed. She wants amends. She doesn’t want sorry, she wants actions that prove men are ready to abandon privilege and allow us the power they’ve so viciously and ritually denied us, forever.

All men have harmed women. There is no man in patriarchy whose hands are clean. ALL MEN BENEFIT FROM OTHER MEN MAKING WOMEN AFRAID TO SPEAK UP OR SAY NO.

All men.

This is not debatable. This is what patriarchy IS. It’s a brotherhood, and you don’t opt out, drop out, transition out, nothing. You’re a lifelong member of the rape club and if you’re not actively fighting it and amplifiying women’s voices and calling out your brothers even when your life is at risk, you don’t get to speak at all. But that is still not amends.

Here’s the thing. If you were SORRY, you would STOP.

If you didn’t LIKE IT, it would END.

If you wanted a new way, we would HAVE IT.

That’s because you, men, created a world where your power is the only power worth anything. So you took the power and you lied and lied about women, and now you’re super sad that so many women are angry and loud and really really mean.

Your feelings are meaningless, stop trying to make us care. You are the ones stalling a revolution, clinging desperately to your moms and girlfriends daughters and begging them to remember your dear, sweet humanity, because you know you’ve hurt women and you deserve to be left behind. You can’t move forward because you’d lose all the sweet perks, so you keep women back to keep you company, even though you can see her vitality leave her for your black hole vampirism. Better her than you, every time, for millennia.

Amends means identifying and correcting every wrong you’ve ever done, changing everything, giving it all up. Amends means suffering. It means looking deep into yourself and hating yourself in a constructive way. Don’t take your self-hate and make it our problem. Stop stalking and murdering us and our children when we leave. LET US GO.

If you want to change, you will. You know how. Stop asking us. It’s your problem now. We’re doing this without you, and you won’t like the world you’ve made for yourselves once we’re out of it.

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Female-Only Space

My home has been women-only for about half a year now. My mom’s ex husband moved out and it was just her and I until we offered our basement to a friend and her daughter. We space four generations: a teen, me in my late twenties, my friend in her forties and my mom in her fifties.

I would call it peace. I would call it power.

My brother said it hurt his feelings.

On the weekend after canadian colonial invasion and animal sacrifice day (“thanks””giving”), we had some company for a turkey dinner. My mom’s brother and his wife, and my brother and sister came over. At the dinner table, my uncle got so rattled that the pepper wasn’t coming out of the shaker that he slammed the shaker on the table (twice) right in front of his wife’s plate (never his, you see. It’s not his problem, it’s her. Ours.)

My friend’s daughter is a vegetarian like me and she chose not to be in the house while the animal was roasting all day. Good thing. My brother, gynergy vampire #1 in my life and my mom’s too, was staying for a few days and there was a lack of communication with my friend. We had talked about protecting the home and maintaining it as a safe space for women. We hadn’t communicated with her that apparently my brother was exempted from this rule (how did we miss it?).

The only disagreement that has ever happened in the house has been because of male presence.

My friend spoke with my mother, as the matriarch, and wasn’t hesitant to explain to my brother as well as he’d overheard. My brother had a lot of feelings all over the place about not being implicitly trusted for absolutely no reason in a house full of victims seeking refuge from male violence.

My brother was the first one to not believe me when I exposed my mom’s husband as a child molester.

My brother was the first one to call me a whore after I was loaded and someone he knew tried to fuck with me.

My brother was the first to expose me to woman hating, the first to make me hate myself, the first to put himself first over me and then guilt me for identifying that behaviour.

My brother, who soooo isn’t a misogynist.

*

Women have a right to create spaces for themselves that men cannot invade. In fact, I believe that women leaving male-enforced isolation and banding together is what will save the planet and humankind. I don’t really care if men benefit from us taking well-deserved control, but I guess some women do care, so that should make them feel better.

But men don’t want to benefit from the new way, because the benefits from the old way include so many more orgasms and rape and progeny and free labour.

They might act as though they really don’t like being called pussies or whine about how unfair it is that they can’t walk behind a woman at night without invoking a genetic and social fear of rape and murder in her. But in reality, most of them don’t actually care, because they really like the whole rape thing.

*

My friend said that since moving in with us, she’s felt security in the first time in her life. She is newly awakened to the depths of patriarchy as the original destroyer. As a Dianic witch in a very male subscene, she was so influenced by men that they were able to convince her that class was the major divide. But even impoverished men pay for rape.

We were talking last night and she said something about still wanting to pursue men for sex from time to time (not in our home) and I said, Well, as long as you are gaining some sort of energy from them for yourself, which I assume you have to be.

She didn’t say anything. I think she has been so used to (used by) male presence that they haven’t let her think even for a moment what it would be like to not fuck them. That that could ever even be an option.

The farther I am from men, the more I see. I draw my sisters near to me. I’ll fight for them even as men have them fight me. I demand peace and power, respite and sanctuary.

Aside

Girlhood

Each girlhood is different. What is learned during childhood stays with us and shapes us. My girlhood made me a feminist long before I understood the term.

I think it all started when I broke my leg. At seven years old I was already a voracious reader. I read my mom’s science fiction, my stepmom’s romance novels, and regularly spent my allowance at the used book store. When I got my first library card, I picked a book and checked it out. Then I sat and read the book (I was waiting for my mom to finish work). Then I checked out about fifteen more, so many the librarian chuckled, this great stack of books I could barely carry back to my mom’s store. Books taught me that every single person is different, that everyone is important, and that everyone has a story. Books gave me empathy, a sense of righteous indignation at injustice, and an escape. Some books gave me a fucked up idea of what women were really like, but I was lucky to have that balanced by good women in my real life, and eventually I learned to read stories about women by women for anything resembling truth.

On the first day of summer I was riding my bike down a huge hill and I lost control and sideswiped a parked car. My leg snapped (tibia in half, fibula a compound break) but my bike kept going–I couldn’t stop because it had pedal brakes, but somehow my dad ran out of his house and stopped my bike before it went into heavy traffic. (My dad then took me to a walk-in clinic instead of a hospital, but I can laugh about that now).

Anyway, I had a hip-to-toe plaster cast for a couple months that was so heavy I had to have a sling under it, over my shoulder, just to carry it. I don’t remember having my cast switched to a shorter fiberglass one, but the memory of having that one removed has stayed with me. I had one very tanned, muscular leg with fine though dark hair. My other leg was wasted, pale, weird-looking, and covered in dark, thick hair. People made fun of me and my mom said I could start shaving and I did.

A year later at eight I got my period. I’ve always been what they call an ‘early bloomer’ or ‘early developed’, phrases I hate because they suggest I wasn’t ripe or ready before but suddenly people were telling me I was. Ready for what? I knew, though, and so did they. Women often looked at me with sympathy when they learned how young I actually was.

During that time my mom’s boyfriend began sexually abusing me and that lasted a few years until I told a friend (something I can’t even remember doing) and she told my stepmom. From there everything changed but no one explained anything to me. I was twelve when I was told I had to talk to the police. Since I’d been at my dad’s that weekend, I didn’t see my mom until I was at the police station, and she was there with my abuser, and I thought that she would choose him over me so I didn’t talk. I didn’t take back my story but I said I didn’t want to talk about it.

My mom stayed with him, meaning so did her kids, until I was seventeen. She didn’t tell me she believed me until I was eighteen and I’m still not entirely sure she does. She still works with him, my sister attends his family reunions, etc. I learned that loyalty is difficult to enact.

During the five years after he stopped molesting me and before my mom left, he fucked with my head in a tonne of small ways. Invading my privacy and space, talking to me about my personal journal entries, petty things like painting my furniture and room colours I hated, and basically destroyed my self-worth by constantly calling me sadistic and manipulative and turning my family against me. I was sent to therapy but when I confessed I had suicidal ideations, again things were sent beyond my control and I was put on medication. At the same time my mom was also on anti-depressants. And those were dark days.

Because I ‘developed’ early I was subjected to treatment usually reserved for older girls. Men were always holding me against them and trying to get me to sit in their laps. My body, hair, face, etc, were constantly public property. Men I babysat for put their hands on my legs or in my lap, using my body for their satisfaction.

Starting in third grade I was a slut because I had larger breasts than other girls my age. I was also really mean and violent–I was the only girl who would fight boys and I basically contracted myself out to other girls. The name-calling and rumours were really painful not just because they were untrue but because I knew it shouldn’t even matter if I had done the things people said. Boys only wanted to date me because they thought I would do things with them. Older guys were constantly after me and used my body as an excuse for their behaviour. Do you know how many guys blamed ME for them not bothering to act human? How their perception of my sexuality became a self-fulfilling prophecy?

By the time I got to high school I knew exactly what men are. They looked at me like I was food, and I grew to loathe and fear that look. I began to see myself as they did: an object. My body wasn’t mine, it never had been. Men in cars honked at me and yelled at me and my friends, men at clubs and bars touched me against my will, men were constantly demanding my attention and I was not allowed to deny it. Men I loved hurt me actively and passively. Men had sex with me when I could not or did not consent. I knew men were NOT like women, and yet I was still expected to want to be with them, to find the one that wouldn’t hurt me, or treat me like meat, or deny my humanity by mocking my reality.

I read cosmo, trolled chat rooms, watched and read porn, and learned as long as I kept up a learned facade, men would do anything for me. I got into damaging and abusive relationships, the sex I had became more violent and degrading, I lived in depressions for years. I wanted to punish my body because that’s all anyone else had ever done to it. I have countless scars that in my mind showcased my worthlessness. I controlled my unhappiness by controlling my diet. Anything I could do to hurt myself I did. I became an actress and for a long time I expected to live my entire life like a movie. As long as I was writing my part, I thought, I could fix the ending. I could edit. I wouldn’t have to be real.

Girlhood is a confusing time. People always talk about childhood and adolescence, but we need to stop acting like girls and boys are raised the same. While boys were bringing porn magazines to school, girls were learning how to be pleasing, compliant, acquiescent. When boys have pornographic imaginations and expectations, and girls are raised to be obedient, what the fuck do people think is going to happen?

I can’t count the amount of times I’ve felt unsafe with men. I can’t even say how many moments I’ve had where I’ve thought–he’s not going to stop. I’ve been right about that. Empowering a girl to say no doesn’t carry much weight when boys are taught to not take no for an answer, or pretend to not be able to ‘read’ us. And when girls do say yes, as is becoming the norm now more than ever thanks to porn culture and its ‘feminist’ subsidiaries, they ARE considered damaged, fucked up, at fault. When girls say no, they aren’t believed or the guilt of the perpetrator is mitigated by the victim’s actions. Most of the time when a girl says no and he doesn’t care, she never tells anyone. But throughout my girlhood and subsequent adulthood I’ve come to see that if you talk to any women long enough and she trusts you enough, you’ll learn about her rape or sexual abuse. It’s never the same story, and yet it is.

I consider my girlhood different from my childhood. I loved running around in forests, raising tadpoles, bringing home animals, and building snow forts. I was left to my own devices and I was happiest when alone. I had several groups of girl friends, which I lost every time I got a boyfriend. My family was really poor and moved a lot and my mom did the best she could but she’d never learned to be on her own and she couldn’t have supported us that way. There were a lot of bright, shining moments in my childhood.

The darkest moments, though, were almost all because I had a girl’s body. Girlhood matters to girls and I’m sick of seeing it brushed aside and erased.