Why Women Are Angry
And what men can do about it.
I’m generally a happy person. I’m all about spreading love and making people smile. I write romantic comedies for cryin’ out loud. But last night I was practically hyperventilating in bed until 2AM; reeling about the catastrophic injustices prevalent in my latest conversation with a guy friend. And I realized — I can’t be the “cool girl who gets it” this time. I’ve gotta be the loud one unafraid to call “B.S!”
We were talking about how women can (or, his stance: can’t) defend themselves against men. He maintained women ‘shouldn’t put themselves in that situation.’ Do you begin to see why I was infuriated?
It all started when he and his girlfriend were cuddling in the kitchen and he jokingly turned it into a very light choke hold. She did what all women do in movies: grabbed his giant forearm. I told her, “Peel the thumb.” (It works ladies, my nine year old daughter can get her dad’s (6'2", 190lbs) hands off her whenever she does this.) Important Note: her father is not abusive in any way; this is only used when they have tickle wars, or when our kids gang up on him wrestling. All in safe, raucous fun.
Also important: my friend is not abusive. He’s actually one of the good guys, gals. He’s got kick ass sisters. Some of his best friends are women. And he can’t say enough stellar things about the woman who basically runs his company. So if he thinks like that — what hope do we have?
I tried to show my friend and his girlfriend what I meant, but he wouldn’t grab me. He said to his girlfriend, “This is how Allison gets hurt.” I responded, “I don’t want anyone to get hurt. I’m just trying to show your girlfriend how to get out of an unwanted situation.” But he wouldn’t have it. His stance was: there’s nothing women of our size (5’5” and 5’8”, medium builds) could do against guys his size. (5'10", thick as a bulldog.)
I’m sure you’ll agree — few things are more infuriating than being told you can’t do something.
“I’ll die trying!”
But the truly unconscionable part is when that’s true…when we might die trying.
I’m a pretty violent person if need be (yes, happy, but I can thrown down). A product of growing up in a family of eight, I suppose. But if it really came down to it — unless I was willing to maim or kill my friend (most days I’m not) he would win in a fight. And I’ve trained in various martial arts, so please know I would not go gently into that dark night — but I’d probably go nonetheless. It might be different if I was fighting a stranger for my life; as I’d care less if that person’s arms, or genitals, ever worked properly again…but it might not.
My friend proceeded to tell us about a female friend he had who was murdered in Costa Rica two years ago by a security guard at an Airbnb she was renting. His stance was, “She shouldn’t have put herself in that situation. She shouldn’t have traveled alone.” (She didn’t. It just happened her friend’s flight left the day before.) “She shouldn’t have asked for that bottle of water from the guard.”
Are you F’in kidding me?!?! Not a word was said about what the security guard — THE ONE COMPLETELY IN THE WRONG — should or shouldn’t have done. Not a single syllable uttered blaming the man who committed the atrocities. No, no, “SHE shouldn’t have put herself in that situation.”
**He has since corrected this oversight, but it doesn’t change my point. Plus, he then added, “If she had lied down, she’d still be here. I guarantee that.”**
So he dug out of one hole only to hurl himself into another deeper one. First of all, that’s not a guarantee. By any means. Second, people hit a threshold where they can’t bear to “lie down” any longer. (I’m pretty sure we’ve seen that as a country these last eight months. Sadly, it seems that’s one of the few things that actually creates change.) Are there casualties? Yes. But I am one of many women proud to say, “If I go fighting for what I believe in, speak well of me at my funeral.”
It’s terrible enough things like this ever happen! But if we’re still victim shaming, they’ll continue to happen. Apparently we need to shed more light on male privilege.
In fact, women SHOULD be able to travel alone. We SHOULD be able to ask for water!? And we SHOULD be able to do ALL the things men do without fearing for our safety or lives. Period.
I’ve been lucky. I’ve never had the type of horrific experiences many of my friends and family have had. Rape, hospitalization, physical abuse. But I have had the hands-y uncle who tickled me against my will (I didn’t know to peel the thumb back then) bosses (yes, plural) make extremely inappropriate comments or jokes at my expense; customers grope me; strangers pinch my ass in a crowd…in other words, I’m been violated by men in all the insidious ways. It’s demoralizing. Designed to keep us “in our place”. (Guys, if you like that place so much, why don’t you try it?)
I’m sure every woman reading this right now has their own repulsive experiences traipsing around in their memories. For that, I’m sorry ladies. I’m not trying to elevate your blood pressure; unless it helps us discover a better way to handle these situations next time. (I’d love your feedback on this because I’m still not Janey-on-the-spot when these things occur.)
We’ve all been violated. And that’s only part of why we’re angry! Even the ‘cool chicks’ among us, who grew up tomboys (Here.) and think, “I get along better with men, than women.” (Side note, I no longer think that. Ladies, if this sounds like you, please: I know where you’re coming from and I’m here to tell you — there are lots of badass women in the world who will uplift you more than your guy friends ever could. Who make the world an amazingly loving place. Find them. You’ll be happier you did. And stop saying that.) I digress, even the cool chicks have laughed off their fair share of disgusting behavior because we want to fit in. My stomach turns when I think of how often I’ve done this.
But guys, how women have personally been violated, or how our close friends and family have, isn’t the only burden we carry. We’re flooded with violence against women on both the fictional and nonfictional screen. I was watching a truly splendid action caper recently and inevitably, there’s the scene where the woman is overtaken by a man, bent over a desk, shouted at, and forced to spread her legs. Thankfully, her own man comes in to save the day before anything else happens. Hmm…
The female character had taken out two other men before being compromised. She was wearing what must have been 8" stilettos. So, a badass in many ways, and still, she’s overtaken by a jackass. Why couldn’t she use her weapons? Why must her man come save her? Believe me, I’d rather he save her than the grim alternative we so often witness. (Hey filmmakers, what would happen if we stopped showing this onscreen? Make it inconceivable, instead of expected. Would life imitate art? I bet it’s worth a try.)
I found myself lying in bed that night plotting a stiletto defense class where I teach women to take off their heels and impale men…in the neck, or eyes, or femoral artery, basically any soft part will do. (I did warn you I was violent. Happy and loving until stuff goes further south than it ever should. Then, watch out.) The flyer would be a woman slinging a pair of heels like they’re nunchucks.
This is just one of the many things that keep me, and I’m sure countless other women, up at night, gentlemen. And again, I’ve never been attacked myself!? We all carry the burden of the collective woman. That’s why we’re injured…and angry.
You see, there is no way for a woman to live a life where she doesn’t put herself in ‘that situation’. So stop saying that!
I guess, maybe if we all became nuns, violence against women would decrease. Yes, decrease. Not go away entirely. Infuriating.
Rape SHOULDN’T be a thing. Ever. Ev-er!
But we know this. The question is: what do we do about it?
I suggest we learn from the BLM movement. Silence from those in power is no longer acceptable.
Men, you have to confront the many faces of privilege you’ve enjoyed:
Walking through a parking lot alone at night.
Getting to decide what you do with your body; instead of it being a national issue.
Carrying condoms without being called a slut.
Please, for the health of society, and for the mothers, sisters, friends, and significant others you love — face these inequalities. Walk a mile in our heels. (Then take a pic and send it to me.)
After you’ve done this very important work, apologize to a woman in your life. Or be a total rock star: all the women in your life. Start a conversation. Ask them about their experiences. Be compassionate, not judgmental.
Call out injustices whenever you see or hear about them. Is your buddy degrading women at happy hour? Call him out. Then find better friends.
Not until men defend women, will we have a better world.
Not until each individual is respected, will we achieve equality.
And I know women have to do their part. Respect each other. Respect themselves. Believe me guys, every woman is painfully aware of potentially dangerous situations. What we’re angry about is there are far too many of them.
We need you.
We need you to be better men.
Tony Robbins says a big difference between successful people and people who aren’t where they want to be is:
“Successful people ask better questions.”
So, physically superior specimens (of course there are exceptions to this rule. Not the point at this very moment.) ask yourselves: How are you showing up for women?
I call on you not to blame or shame women who get hurt — instead, beat up the guys who did it. Throw them in prison. Or down a dark hole from which they will never emerge. (I know violence isn’t really the answer, hence my weapon of choice: words.) But I am throwing down the gauntlet. Are you man enough to pick it up?
If so, maybe we can begin the healing and say goodbye to the anger. We want to. Because we do love you so. Thanks for reading. And thanks even more for thinking about it. xo