No, I’m not going to ask you to journey with me through another recitation of a horror inflicted upon a woman by an old, ugly man. At least not directly. And yes, I’m speaking of him in derogatory physical terms because these men often refer to the women they brutalize in derogatory physical terms. Don’t they have mirrors where they live? Anybody think Tweedledum and Tweedledumber are cute?
But back to my point: The hatred of women around the world. Women who work in the California State Legislature signed a letter condemning what they called the “pervasive culture of sexual harassment that plagues women” who work in the State Capitol. In Paris, France a woman legislator is considering legislation that would criminalize the common practice of verbal street harassment of women. The problem is so pervasive that in some parts of the city women won’t leave home alone.
And then there are the trains: In many parts of the world–Japan and India and China and Egypt and Indonesia to name a few–there are women only train cars because groping is such a problem. Yes, groping. Grabbing women by the…well, ask Tweedledumber.
Men behaving badly is not new, but because so many prominent men have been caught (yes, I’m going to say it!) with their pants down, it has become news. I only hope those men feel as helpless and hopeless and afraid and angry as those they brutalized now that they’re exposed and naked. Sucks, doesn’t it, fellas? And painful as it must’ve been to go public, we owe thanks to those brave women who came forward because they also are the voices of the thousands, perhaps millions, who absolutely CANNOT confront their violators: Women–and men–in small towns, earning minimum wage, with nowhere to go and no way to get there, with nobody to tell about their pain and, quite frankly, even if they were brave enough to speak out, how likely is it that the major news outlets would tell their stories? Not very. So even as we follow the headlines, let’s not lose sight of the countless women who suffer alone, out of sight.
And let’s keep two other things in mind: Let’s stop calling rape assault. Yes, rape is an ugly word. It’s also a damn ugly deed and people–the media politicians, civil activists–should call it what it is. And the second thing: Misogyny means hatred. Let’s stop calling woman-hating cretins misogynists. In the first place, they probably don’t know what the word means, but calling them a four-syllable, Greek-based word lets them off too easy. Men world-wide do dehumanizing, ugly things to women because they hate us.
I came of age in the time of don’t rock the boat, go along to get along, a woman’s place is… not to mention that Black and Brown people had a place of our own we were to stay in. This is what’s meant by Make America Great Again. Well, let’s not. Let’s make America what we need it to be for all of us, and let’s continue to expose those whose feet still are on our necks.
Penny Mickelbury is a journalist-turned-novelist and playwright. She is the author of the Mimi Patterson/Gianna Maglioni mysteries; the Carole Ann Gibson mysteries; and the Phil Rodriquez mysteries. Currently based in Atlanta — her home town — she started her career as a newspaper, radio, and television reporter in Washington, D.C. and has lived in San Francisco, Chicago, and New York City, as well.