I’ve been thinking a lot about what commenters sam and Skada said in the comments thread on my post 90 Minutes I’ll Never Get Back. Skada remarked: There is soooo much pressure to accommodate men instead of voicing our own opinions. I really wish, ten years ago, I would’ve had more exposure to posts like this that show a confident, assertive woman turning down a guy.
To me, this is one of the biggest everyday problems facing hetero women when we date. We’re supposed to make guys like us, and think there’s something wrong with us if we don’t. We’re taught that turning down male attention—even unwanted attention!—is picky, rude or bitchy. I wrote a post about this years ago called A Very Disturbing Conversation, in which I described this phenomenon in its worst possible manifestation: a good friend was damn near sexually assaulted by a grope-happy date, but felt she couldn’t tell him to take his hands hands off her because “I didn’t want him to think I was a bitch.” That conversation made me SO angry—clearly this very successful 40 year old woman had been brainwashed into thinking that incurring a man’s disapproval was worse than being sexually assaulted. It’s why I started writing posts with the Be A Bitch tag; there are times when being assertive or standing up for yourself will get you called a bitch, but those are usually EXACTLY the times when you most need to do it!
That is probably the single most important part of my feminist practice: fighting back against the way society tells me that I’m bitchy or slutty or “have an attitude” for doing the things men take for granted: standing up for myself, enjoying my sexuality, saying no to whatever makes me uncomfortable or unhappy. I refuse to give in to pressure to be passive and pleasing and say yes when I really want to say no simply because society conditions me to do so and threatens me with disapproval if I don’t toe the line.
Which brings us to my aspirational spirit animal, the African honey badger. As Randall tells us, they’re pretty badass. They eats what they want. They’re fearless. They kills poisonous snakes. They gets stung by bees and don’t give a shit. That’s what I want for all women. To go through life not giving a shit, chasing down our natural enemies and occasionally biting the head off the snake of harassment and chauvinism (SUCH a bad metaphor, I know!).
I’ve told plenty of stories here about how I try to live out a honey badger-like feminism. I’d like to hear yours and I think other commenters do, too. So whether they’re stories about dating and relationships or family, work, activism or any other aspect of your life—tell us! Leave them in the comments. Or if they’re on the longer side, e-mail them to me at email@example.com and we’ll feature them in a guest post.
If you need to be re-inspired (or missed the meme the first time around) here’s Randall narrating the story of our mascot: