I have received many dick pics and several comments about said Dick pics in the last several days. And I have given it considerable thought, as a feminist, as a woman, as the victim of a crime (committed 40+yrs ago). I have something to say about it.
Many people interpret these pictures as “come-ons,” as flirtatious, as though it is a compliment that these men, members of the patriarchy, are giving me such special attention. These men are white, black, brown; this attitude apparently transcends the standard race barrier.
But what is this attitude if not an invitation? It is harassment, it is an internet version of assault. Why do these men send pictures of their genitals to a woman who writes about rape? How does that make any sense?
Well, it makes a lot of sense, actually. It is to put her in her place, makes an effort to remove the power she has gained in her world. To remind her of the patriarchy. Just like rape, this is about power: I can still assault you, I can still have the power to invade your private space, I can steal your control and power any time I want. Because I am a man.
Well, guess what, no you can’t. I have not survived—excelled—in my life because I let men like you intimidate me. I feel sorry for you that you are so insecure that you find it necessary to mark your territory, at least in your own mind. I am not your territory. You can not own me.
What these images do for me is remind me that I must fight on. I must tell my truth. I must face and stand up to the insidious nature of a culture entrenched in a patriarchal cesspool. I must be the change I want to see.
I want to see empowered women. I want to see the decline and fall of the patriarchy. I want to see a brighter tomorrow that allows attractive young women to walk in the woods alone, or with a male friend and feel safe. I want her to not feel the need to question a man’s intent or trustworthiness before taking that walk.
Something I still find it necessary to do.
I am lucky, some would say blessed, that I have men in my life whom I trust. I feel safe with. A whole crowd of them. And I will walk in the woods with them as a group, or individually. I will. It is their presence in my world that gives me hope that tomorrow can be better, that not all men live in a cesspool.
Recently, my youngest son, he’s 24, was talking to me about a song. Mongo Jerry’s, In The Summertime. I started bopping, singing in my head. My son was horrified. You like that song? How can you like that song? If her daddy’s rich take her out for a meal. If her daddy’s poor just do what you feel.
I stopped humming.
That’s, like, the worst, most sexist song, I’ve ever heard! He said.
I had considered embedding it into the blog, but I won’t contribute to that. Google is your friend. I’m guessing my dick-pic-ers love Mongo Jerry. I’m guessing every woman reading, every woman in my age group, started with the catchy Chh chu -chh, uh. It’s catchy, it’s message is awful. Awful.
My son made me proud, gave me hope.
I have had men I went to high school with apologize to me for men. How messed up is that? They give me hope. Some asked, are these guys we knew in school? Yes, they are. I hear the questions reverberating in their brains: how did I not know that they were rapists? How did I not see? What could I have done differently? You can start being different today. That’s what you can do. You can ensure that what happened to me doesn’t happen to your daughters and granddaughters.
Dick-pics have not been the only response. Surprisingly, women have responded with, why would you tell that story? In one instance, a friend has stopped speaking to me and won’t look me in the eye. It was forty years ago. I have moved on. And I tell that story because it is the elephant in the room. If women can not discuss this with other women, who may have similar experiences, how will we ever talk to men? How will we convince the criminal justice system to even look at rape kits?
Dick-pics aren’t the problem, they are a symptom of rape culture. And I will continue to call it out.