In treatment at The Refuge, we used a lot of narrative therapy. That means that we wrote a lot of letters to different people, emotions, and concepts. This is a letter I wrote to misogyny after several distressing interactions with men on the campus and throughout my life.
TW: Adult language, mention of sexual assault, rape culture, brief mention of eating disorder behavior
You hurt me every single day. You hurt everyone every single day. You hurt me when you encourage men to say, “not all men” after a woman shares her trauma story. You hurt me when men somehow think it’s a woman’s responsibility to “cultivate” the “good” men. You hurt me by making me feel like my voice doesn’t matter. You hurt me by promoting rape culture and victim blaming. You hurt me by ensuring I get paid less for equal work. You hurt me by allowing 1 in 6 women to be raped.
You hurt me by denying me access to critical health care. You hurt me by not giving me a seat at the table. You hurt me by giving men disproportionate power over me and by making them into authority figures I feel like I have to please. You hurt me by ensuring we have never had a person who looks like me as President. You hurt me by allowing men to gaslight women. You hurt me by making it feel like I have to expend energy fighting you instead of just being able to live my life.
You hurt me by making men feel entitled to my emotional labor. You hurt me by convincing men that it is somehow the duty of women to prove you exist. You hurt me with minority fatigue. You hurt me by making men feel entitled to say things about or do things I don’t want to my body. You hurt me by making me seem or feel crazy or overdramatic for speaking against you. You hurt men by making them think they can’t show emotion. You hurt men by making them think predatory behavior is just “boys being boys” or “locker room talk.” You hurt women the most, but you hurt men and nonbinary people, too.
You hurt me by making men think it is acceptable to speak over me, invalidate my feelings, or ignore what I have to say. You hurt me by elevating the voice of men over women. You hurt me by convincing men that I’m just some crazy feminist for wanting equity and a voice. You hurt me by convincing people that women are “too emotional” to hold power. I hate you, but many men in my life love you and the power you afford them, even though they deny it. Anyone who isn’t part of the solution is part of the problem. Anyone who isn’t actively fighting for gender equity and equal pay for equal work is a misogynist, though I know they don’t see themselves that way.
Fuck you for making the rape of billions of women throughout history not only possible but largely tolerated or dismissed. Fuck you for making it almost impossible to get a rapist convicted and for making it unlikely that if they are convicted, they will serve the amount of time they should. Fuck you for making women question whether or not they should come forward after a rape because of how damaging it could be to the rapist’s life. What about how damaging it was to the survivor’s life? Why is that an argument I seldom hear?
Fuck you for making men think their voices and experiences matter more. Fuck you for literally letting men get away with rape and murder. Fuck you for teaching young girls that boys being mean to them means the boys like them. Fuck you for tricking women everywhere into tolerating abhorrent behavior from men. Fuck you for making people think “what were you wearing?” and “how drunk were you?” are acceptable questions to ask survivors of sexual trauma. Fuck you for pitting women against each other to distract them from the real enemy- you. I hate you with the fire of a thousand exploding suns.
I hate you with every fiber of my being. I hate that for gender based discrimination to be acknowledged, Ruth Bader Ginsburg had to prove gender based discrimination against a man. I hate that men often don’t think something is a problem unless or until it becomes a problem for them or someone they love. I hate that men claim I hate men when, in reality, it is you that I hate. I hate that women can’t express anger or dissatisfaction unless they do som calmly because otherwise they are viewed as hysterical. No one likes a mad woman.
I hate that men cry “misandry” every time someone points you out. I hate that women have to hear that they should smile more. I hate that women are slut shamed for the same behavior men are praised for. I hate how many times I have heard “you need to calm down” from men. I hate that there is a glass ceiling in need of breaking. I hate that women are taught how not to get raped instead of boys and men being taught how not to rape. I hate that you made my ex boyfriend think that me resuming my bulimia was an acceptable solution to the weight I had gained that was unattractive to him. I hate that you made him think it was ok to pressure and guilt me into doing things I didn’t want to do. I hate that when women speak up about their sexual assaults, some men respond, “you can’t rape the willing.”
I hate all of the bullshit sexist jokes about women being bad drivers or about sandwiches or about belonging barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. I hate that women have to work twice as hard to get half as far. I hate that everyone cares about how many men Taylor Swift has dated but people don’t judge male celebrities with the same standards. I hate that many men look at Leia Organa and see a sex symbol instead of a badass politician who goes on to run the entire fucking resistance. I hate that women who sleep with men who are in relationships are called homewreckers, which removes all blame and accountability from the men.
I hate that Adele is a multi Grammy Award winning artist but all anyone is talking about lately is her transformation into something more desired by the male gaze. I hate the number of women serving long prison sentences for defending themselves against rapists and abusers. I hate knowing how likely women are to be killed by intimate partner violence. I hate that self-identified “incels” have gone on murderous rampages when women have rejected them because they feel so entitled to women’s time and bodies and that the media tries to pass this toxic masculinity off as a mental health problem. I hate that mass shootings are almost always carried out by white men but get blamed on mental illness when plenty of women with mental illness don’t do the same.
I hate that mentally ill people are statistically far more likely to be the victims than the perpetrators of violent crime and that the media still refuses to acknowledge that there is a toxic masculinity problem. I hate that idiots on the internet say that unnaturally colorful hair on women is a warning sign to stay away. (But also, my hair is purple and I would very much like for misogynists to stay far far away!). I hate the expectation that women stay home and bear children while men get to have careers and lives outside of the home. I hate that when men watch their own children, many of them refer to it as “babysitting.”
I hate that to be heard, women have to use a kind voice. Tone policing is real and it’s horse shit. I hate that women are perceived as weak. I hate that the word “pussy” is used as an insult to mean weak. I hate when men interrupt or talk over women. I hate when people refuse to acknowledge you or their own privilege. I hate when people say that men and women are equal now even though that is decidedly untrue. Injustice just makes me so furious. Manspreading makes me angry. Mansplaining makes me even angrier.
Men take up all the time, space, and energy that they want and women are judged for the same. You make all of this possible. Because of you, men are socialized to believe that their voices matter and women’s do not. They are socialized to believe that their futures matter and women’s do not. They are socialized to believe that they can make comments about women’s bodies and behaviors. Here are some examples from women I know: “You’re too pretty to smoke.” “You should smile more.” “You’d be so beautiful if you lost some weight.” “You’ve got such a pretty face.” “Women shouldn’t smoke.” “Make me a sandwich.” “What were you wearing?” “Were you drunk?” “Slut.” “Whore.” “Homewrecker.”
I hate that both men and women will judge me and think I’m being “too much” and “too emotional” for writing this letter. I hate that you are so pervasive that I have been able to easily summon pages and pages about you. I hate that I have internalized you so much that I judge other women for how they choose to dress or for their behaviors. I hate that, because of you, I sometimes view other women as competition. I hate that many men don’t believe women are systemically oppressed while simultaneously using our oppression to their advantage. I hate that women who stand up for themselves and ask for what they need are “aggressive” or a “bitch” while men are “just being assertive.”
I hate that women who want abortions are demonized but many doctors and insurance plans are birth control averse. I hate that to have my fallopian tubes removed, there was a mandated counseling session and a thirty day waiting period, but it isn’t as difficult to get a vasectomy. I hate that the burden of birth control and child rearing mostly fall on women. I hate that women experience horrendous side effects from birth control but that when male birth control was in clinical trials, it was decided that the “adverse effects” were unreasonable to expect men to handle. I hate that you allow old white policymaking men who have never met me to make decisions about what my body does or doesn’t need.
I hate that the President of this country is a sexual predator and still got elected. I hate that in many states, women have to have their husband’s permission to access permanent birth control. I hate that during the #MeToo Movement, women were accused of going on a “witch hunt” when witch hunts were historically used to murder women who were outspoken or “difficult.” I hate that women characters in media are often portrayed as one-dimensional people to move a man’s story along instead of the complex beings we actually are with agency and our own hopes and desires.
I hate that misogyny creates absolutely unrealistic expectations for how women are supposed to look and act. I hate that I feel like I have to cite a peer reviewed source every time I state a fact that a man doesn’t know or disagrees with. I hate that misogyny has given men the necessary power to use, abuse, touch, and hurt me without there being many or in fact any consequences for their actions. I hate that people will read that last sentence and wonder if I reported as is clearly my responsibility to do instead of it being men’s job to complete the very easy and simple task of just not assaulting me. I just really really really fucking hate misogyny and the fact that most men aren’t invested in dismantling the patriarchy because of the power and privilege it affords them. In conclusion, fuck you forever misogyny.