International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day.

I have been lucky in my life. I have never been beaten or raped or murdered. I have never been told I couldn’t do something just because I was a girl. I have never been denied a chance at education because I was a girl (other unrelated reasons but never because I was a girl). I have never been taken from my home and sold to the highest bidder because I was a girl with a space between my legs.

I have had experiences that will probably stick with me forever (because I have an eidetic memory and things stick with me) but they were nothing compared to the experiences of women I have known.

When I was 11, a boy I liked pinned me to a bed and laid on top of me. I could feel his erection through his pants but that was as far as it went. He pressed against me for what felt like forever but was probably no more than a minute, maybe two, then let me up and told me to get lost. I could hypothesize for the rest of forever and never really know what he had planned but it probably isn’t important. The weird thing about that day was that we eventually became good friends.

Or so I thought.

When I was 19, that same boy invited me to his apartment. We talked, “caught up,” and then he told me that he had always liked me but I was “too good” for him. When I told him I hadn’t thought of him like that since we were kids, he got angry. Actually, before all of that, he got a call from another friend and told his friend that he was with me and we were “hooking up.” Then, he made his confession, then, I told him how I felt.

Largely, my reaction was based on shock. It was definitely not something I expected to hear in that casual afternoon with an old friend. And I was “involved” with someone else at the time (see Day 16 for more details on that situation). So I needed some time to process what he had told me.

But he didn’t want to allow me time to process. Instead, my reaction made him angry. How could I turn him down after he had made this bold confession and I wore those tight jeans and strappy tank top?

He “got over it” and we spent the rest of the day together, going to hang out with some of his friends later. There, someone put on a movie and he found a different girl to get cozy with while a different guy (who was friends with some of my friends) offered to take me home.

I haven’t spoken to this “old friend” since that day.

I have been lucky in my life. What if he hadn’t had an attack of conscience that day when we were 11? What if he hadn’t again when we were 19? This same friend, twice in less than one decade, was in a position to assault me and didn’t. And that is the closest I’ve been to that. I have been lucky. But far too many women haven’t.

Today is International Women’s Day.

International because every day, all around the world, women are beaten, assaulted, mutilated, and killed outright because they are women. Because they were not given a Y chromosome. Because they have a space between their legs (or because they don’t, because they are trans women who haven’t undergone reassignment). They are sold for their parts, they have their parts removed, they are considered on all levels to be animals.

And don’t be railroaded into thinking that these atrocities are exclusive to Third World, underdeveloped countries. They are happening in your own backyard, every day. And we need to stand up and fight back. Everyone. Women and men. It is everyone’s problem.

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