I got my first guest post submission today! Woo! I'm honestly really surprised that so many people have been participating in this blog so soon after it launched, with all the comments and sharing. I'm really grateful to everyone who has supported me this way, and especially to the person who's shared this piece with me.
To the author: If you want me to put your name on this, or just the first name, or initials or whatever, please email me again. I'm going to leave you anonymous for now, because that's the safest thing to do. Also, I love it! This is very well written and powerful. Well done.
This piece didn't come with a title, so I thought I would just name it "I Won't Apologize." Seems fitting.
And here it is!
I won't apologize.
I won't apologize for wanting to live in a world where I can see people like me on TV, where I can read things written by people like me, about people like me. I won't apologize for wanting to talk to people like me, about people like me. I won't apologize for the assertion that I know a little more about people like me, than someone who isn't like me.
The world today is for men. The wide open spaces are for men. The small hidden corners are for men. The positions of power are (largely) for men, and the voices that are heard are (largely) those of men. The people who are not men that manage to make themselves heard are almost invariably immediately set upon by men, discrediting them, ridiculing them, deriding them because they are not the voices of men. This is the way it is, because this is the way it always has been, and people are notorious for resisting change, especially when change would mean a diversion from a path that benefits them. In short: men are in power, and they are not looking to change that any time soon.
More and more, people who are not men are standing up and realizing that it's okay to want just a little of the freedom and power that men have had all this time, and that they take for granted. People who are not men are starting to speak up and say "Actually, it's not okay for you to make me stand in a corner. Actually, it's not okay for you to take the whole cake, leave me the crumbs, and then tell me I'm greedy and selfish for wondering why the crumbs are all I get. Actually, it's not okay for you to assume that you are welcome in the places that belong to me, when you make it clear that I am not welcome in so many of the places you claim as your own."
Men don't like that. The act of the people who are not men, standing up to claim a portion of the world for themselves, means that there is less world for the men to claim dominion over. And why would they let that happen? It doesn't benefit them.
And I won't apologize for wanting a place where I can talk to people like me, about issues that people like me face. I won't apologize for wanting to have those discussions in an environment where men are not welcome. I spend most of every day living in a world where I'm made to feel unwelcome because I am not a man. It is time that the situation is reversed, even if only in a few small spaces - since inevitably, those few small spaces are all we will be allowed. It is time that men understand a little of what it feels like to not be welcome because of their gender.
Here's where I think the problem lies. Men are resistant to feminism because they are under the misapprehension that feminism is seeking a reversal of roles. Men think we seek to put them in our places, and take their places for our own. Obviously this is an entirely abhorrent concept to most men. They would HATE being treated the way they know they treat us.
What they don't understand is that feminism does not seek to make one group of people higher or more privileged than any other group. Feminism, in its truest form, seeks to make all groups equal. Unfortunately for that to happen, a lot of groundwork has to be laid. It isn't going to happen in a day. We can't just "clean slate" the world and pretend that for hundreds of years, men haven't been making people who are not men live as second class citizens in a world that should be just much ours as it is theirs.
And so I won't apologize. In the wide open spaces that are for men, and in the small hidden corners that are for men, I won't apologize for wanting to carve out a place of my own that men can't go, and where I don't have to listen to them telling me how I am allowed to feel, what I should be thinking, and what I am allowed to say. I won't apologize for being tired of having men jump into every conversation I have because years of experience has given them the impression that their thoughts and opinions are not only wanted, but needed - when this is so very much not the case. And I won't apologize for being angry that I have to ask for this when it should be my right as a human being. I won't apologize for being angry every time a conversation with people like me, about people like me, is derailed by a man who thinks he knows better than we do.
Quite the contrary, I think men should apologize for making my request necessary, and for making me feel like there's something wrong with ME for daring to ask.