Genevieve Valentine – Dealing With It
June 21, 2013
“[Note: This essay speaks largely to my personal experience as a white cisgender woman. I don’t wish to speak for the experiences of others here; I invite your experiences in comments.]
[Trigger warning for quotations encouraging sexual assault and racist quotations.]”
“I’m in ninth grade, in the same seat, shoulder against the wall, trying to take notes. He reaches over and takes a paper off my desk. He’s watching me.
I stand up so fast I knock my chair backwards; I’m stepping forward, against the chair between us. He’s using it as leverage for his reach – I unbalance it. It crashes into him. It pinches his hand, it bangs his shoulder. He yelps.
My hands are fists. I say, “Touch anything of mine again and you’ll pull back a stump.”
The class has gone silent. The teacher has turned around.
She says, “What’s going on here?”
I say, “I’m dealing with it.”
I spend two hours in the principal’s office. The reason on my slip: “Violent outburst against another student.””
This is why “Deal With It” can be a form of misogyny. This is why when we turn women into externalities, we teach men to feel entitled. Not just to space, not just to objects, but to attention. Affection. Over time, sex. Relationships. Love.
Society teaches men to expect this from women. Society does this when men and boys take something or act out and the repercussions is telling women to deal with it. Women, in this behavioral model, pay the price for men’s actions.
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