When She Went Bad
You see, as a kid, no one was more boy crazy than me. I had some majorly embarrassing crushes, and thank the heavens every day that there was no internet when I was younger. Still, as an adult, I have guys pop up in my life after decades, only to try and drag me on 20 year old information because I didn’t give them the answer they wanted. Example:
Him: Well, you’re a hoe anyway and you’ll always be a hoe!
Me: I have literally not spoken to you since I was 14.
As someone who thinks she’s actually people (Que tu te crees, que tu eres jente?!?) I have never quite understood the way some guys treated me. It was like I was disposable even though they never really let go of me for too long. Like I should be thankful for their attention and not push for too much, but would immediately pop back up in my life the moment my attention went elsewhere.
And I didn’t get it. At the time, I would chalk it up to insecurity, and tell myself that once they realized that I was here to stay, that if I loved them enough, they would drop their guard and finally relax and care for me the way I deserved. But that never really happened.
I learned instead that it doesn’t matter if you the sweetest, most caring girl in the world. You could be the Virgin Mary herself, and there is still the kind of man that will treat you like shit in order to break you down. And pity for you if you actually care about him, because he will see that as a weakness to exploit.
I’ve been ‘negged’ by guys that I was barely interested in as a tactic to get me to try and prove myself to them, and I’ve been dropped like a hot potato by guys who I thought knew better the moment they felt inconvenienced.
“Everything I said to you was true at the time.” I will literally hold onto this one until the day I die.
Even the guys that cared about me and wanted to be with me acted that the bulk of the emotional work was my responsibility. I have an ex who doesn’t even like me as a person. On paper I’m great, but he doesn’t like anything about my personality or my opinions. Every time we’d have an argument over gender roles, half-way through he would shout, “Of course that’s how you feel, you’re a feminist!” as if he didn’t know that going in. And yet every time he and his wife are on the outs, I can expect a message from him, like clockwork.
But here’s the thing, even after all this terrible behavior, they think that with enough time and distance, they can come back into my life like nothing ever happened, sometimes armed with handy explanations and excuses that could’ve been mighty useful at the time, a retcon and a clean slate.
And honestly, it’s insulting. Because, you know what, I know I’m pretty awesome, and if you can’t get over your shit long enough to notice, long enough to actually get to know me and have a conversation, that’s your fucking problem. Which brings me to the Bill Cosby rape trial.
I Am Not Your Good Girl
As the jury deliberates over the Bill Cosby rape trial, I’ve gotten into several heated conversations with otherwise level-headed adults. A few of these people include people who have experienced abuse firsthand, victims of grooming behaviors and parents of young girls themselves, people whose best interest lie in tearing down these systemic gendered issues , and every single time, the response always includes, “I just don’t get how certain women…”
I never watched the Cosby Show, coming from a strict and structured home, I found it too silly at the time, but what I know is this: Bill Cosby was once one of the most powerful men in Hollywood. People saw him as their dad. They respected him, and he had enough power and clout to call up Eddie Murphy and tell him to stop cussing during his stand up shows. And for a long time, his reputation in Hollywood as a serial womanizer and predator was an open secret.
As the allegations against him became public, more and more women came forward and a pattern emerged. It you want a more detailed timeline, I highly implore you to look at the Jezebel Bill Cosby tag, but it quickly became clear that Bill Cosby, the man that people compounded with his character Cliff Huxtable, was a serial predator. He targeted his victims under the guise of mentorship, abused that trust to drug and rape them, and used his experience, reputation, and connections to keep it quiet for almost 50 years.
And what has been the cause of contention in some of these conversations with the otherwise level-headed adults that I know? “But certain women…”
At what point do we stop expecting women to be perfect victims in order to address the many ways men victimize us? At what point do we stop projecting our own standards of behavior on other victims? At what point do we collectively accept that women should not expected to be saints to be treated like people? A what point do we analyze male behavior, the violence men perpetrate against women and against other men, without hearing someone mumble, “But certain women…”
At what point do we accept that women do not exist to be your good girls? But most importantly, at what point do we start holding abusers to the same standards as our victims?
Abusers are sneaky. They are seducers. They are charismatic and powerful and deceptive. Abusers love to target the mentally ill, the marginalized, those who are hard to believe, and those who do not like to make waves because they’ve been taught to be good and respect their elders and those in power. And they absolutely benefit from a society that is constantly questioning the word of their victims. It is predatory behavior that thrives because of you devil’s advocacy. And when I hear someone immediately start to question women, what I really hear is someone trying to maintain the status quo that allows their shitty behavior to pass, shitty behavior that allows men to treat women like they are disposable.
I understand that it’s a lot harder to accept that you’ve been deceived by someone you looked up to than to repeat tried stereotypes about how some women can’t be trusted. I also understand that it’s very difficult to look in the mirror and address your flaws. But by defending male entitlement by constantly deflecting back to the victims, you are essentially proving that you don’t care to fix the problem, because it might mean having to check your privileges.
The “But certain women…” segue-way is old and tired. And again, some of you have daughters, and if you think that they are immune to your opinions as what constitutes a perfect victim, you are sorely mistaken.