"It wouldn't be fair to say he treated me like a dog. When he beat the dog, he apologized. #YesAllWomen "
My cursor hovered over 'post', but I could not bring myself to click.
Instead, I thought about the other stories that I could share.
Maybe the one about getting a massage in a Turkish bathhouse, and the middle-aged Turkish man slipping his fingers inside my bikini drawers. I was sixteen.
Or maybe the one about the man who grabbed me at a music festival, pulling me away from my friends, and started licking my neck. And wouldn't stop, despite my protests, until the only male friend in our group pretended to be my boyfriend.
Or maybe the one about all the men on the other side of the bar, who would slip money my way and say "get a little something for yourself, darling" and call me a whore when I thanked them but (truthfully) told them that I wasn't allowed.
Or maybe the one about the time when I was working in the kitchen, kneeling to clean up a mess, and the cook grabbed my head and shoved my face into his crotch. He humped my face and yelled "suck it, suck it!". Or maybe the one about when I reported him, and everyone - including his fiancée - told me that he was "just having fun" and I had got him into a lot of trouble because I couldn't take a joke.
Or maybe the one about when a man bent me over the bed and fucked me, even though I had gone from telling him "I don't want to, I'm not in the mood" to screaming at him "stop it, I said no". And I didn't tell anyone, because no one would have listened. He was my husband, so it wasn't rape. He was entitled to my body.
...and I was back to my ex-husband again, and the dozens upon dozens of stories stemming from him, all worthy of their own YesAllWomen tag.
I realized that my ex-husband is a true representative of the problem, this widespread acceptance of violence against women, and men feeling entitled. But still, I could not hit 'post', or 'tweet'. The truth is, I couldn't click 'post' because it would have made people feel uncomfortable. Everyone knows that he abused me. When I finally decided I'd had enough last summer and filed for divorce, I had no hesitation telling people why. What happened next was not the reaction I expected.
People reacted in shock and horror, and then they... Just carried on. Carried on hanging out with him. Carried on 'liking' his posts on Facebook. Carried on being his friend.I hadn't wanted him to end up friendless and alone, necessarily, but how easily everyone carried on their relationships with him was beyond belief. Here was a man who had raised his fist at his wife for making dinner too spicy. Here was a man who pinned his wife down and yelled in her face, daily. Here was a man who slapped his wife for "being hysterical" if she ever cried. Here was man who throttled his wife, and threatened to kill her. Here were our mutual friends, hearing all of these things, knowing all of these things, and then laughing at his jokes, sympathizing with his problems, cheering him up when he was feeling blue. Forgetting, or ignoring, what he had done.
If I were to post that status or tweet that tweet, there could be no forgetting, no ignoring. The mutual friends would be forced to realize that this was the man they were laughing and joking with; and by doing so, by maintaining their friendship with him, they were condoning what he had done. They were sending a message, to him and all men, that said "you can abuse your wife; it is okay. You won't lose anything by doing it". But they wouldn't have changed, wouldn't have cut ties with him. Instead, they would have wondered why I "couldn't let it go". They would have felt very uncomfortable, and it would have been me they blamed. Not him, for doing those things; but me, for reminding them.
So I couldn't post that; that perfect illustration of how a man literally treated his dog better than he treated me.
So why didn't I post some of the other stories? The answer is as simple as it is awful: because I read some of the other posts tagged YesAllWomen, and felt that my stories "weren't bad enough".
Let's stop and talk about that for a moment. A woman is abused by her husband for years, but if she shares her story, she knows that she will become "the psycho ex" and his life will go on as normal. A 16 year old girl is molested, without consent, by a much older man. A young woman is grabbed by a stranger and licked. A woman has a penis shoved in her face and she's told to suck it. And these stories are tame in comparison to some that others have shared. Try to imagine a parallel with other forms of violence. It doesn't happen. No crime is minimized and ignored the way violence against women is not only swept under the rug, but accepted as the norm.
Yesterday was Memorial Day, and, while I don't wish to detract from the sacrifice of the millions of soldiers who gave their lives to protect this country, I do want to bring to your attention a parallel that has already been drawn by others.
Yesterday, we paused to remember fallen servicemembers. Since 2001, we have lost more than 9,561 soldiers.
Also since 2001, more than 11,766 women have been killed by their husbands or boyfriends.*
Yet, there is no day to remember them.
This, gentlemen, is why we post under the YesAllWomen tag. This is why we continue to fight. You can keep your NotAllMen tag. You can pat yourself on the back, knowing that you are the exception: you have never raped, you have never hit, you have never threatened, and therefore, you must be one of the good guys. You are living proof that not EVERY man out there hurts women. But I can promise you, every woman you know will have a story like mine. Every single one. If you haven't heard it, it might well be because it's so awful that she doesn't want to talk about it. It might well be that her friends have had it worse.
Think about that, instead of your innocence.