It’s been a rough week for feminists who aren’t backing down in the #YesAllWomen tags and I think it’s time this site spoke out as well.
#YesAllWomen because I get asked constantly by strangers at work if my father or uncle or brother or boyfriend got me interested in comics.
#YesAllWomen because I have to hear parents tell their sons they won’t buy books for them if they’re about girls and to go find a “boy book.”
#YesAllWomen because I have to be told repetitively that there is just no audience for superhero books starring women or POC even though the staff is 3:1 women and 50% not-white.
#YesAllWomen because people are literally jaw-droppingly surprised that women work in the comic industry.
#YesAllWomen because I have to hear people say they like coming to our store because we won’t harass them for being chicks.
#YesAllWomen because there’s a chance my job is on the line for even writing this article.
For those of you who have been reading us for awhile might remember when I used to write “Comic Shop Girl Confessions” I had to retire the column because I was offending people and that was never the point. But it’s coming out of hibernation just for this topic because, quite frankly, this is where I feel it belongs. Honestly, if someone complains to my bosses for me talking about this, how it was “hateful, elitist, and unfunny” and I lose my job then so be it. It’s only proving why it needs to be said.
I was raised by a strong, passionate, intelligent woman. She warned me that men won’t respect you unless you give them no other choice and that women will not always be on your side so be wary of trusting them. As a child it was easy to see how those two ideas were related so I never thought to question it. As a teenager I was forceful but never cold, “bitchy” but never obstinate, loud but always easy-going. This paired with my love for comic books, action movies, and skateboarding meant I gained a lot of guy friends and a lot of jealous teenage wenches who treated me like shit. My mother’s words rang true but they shouldn’t have.
As a young adult I shied away from the word “feminist” because I didn’t understand it. I pictured the upperclassmen who refused to wear bras and hissed at men and that didn’t make sense to me. I love men! I love hanging out with dudes, I love talking to dudes, and I loved swooning and sighing dreamily as dudes walked passed me. I could never be one of these “feminists” if men were such an important part of my life, right?
And even until I was 20, a handful of failed relationships under my belt, I was lucky and never realized it. My oldest friends, the ones that have known me for two decades, were an exception not the norm. These men never harassed me, they protected me, and they treated me as their equal. It wasn’t until much later I found out not all men were like that. Apparently I had just become very good at not making friends with sexist douchebags. They didn’t even register as I would scan a room of people.
Dinner with mom has turned into an aggressive anti-misogyny conversation. She raised me such a feminist, even if I didn’t know the term — Kate Leth (@kateleth) May 25, 2014
I think maybe I was hidden in this beautiful naïve corner of the geek world. Because I had never encountered men who made me jump through hoops to prove my worth in this fandom. Because I looked through my rose-colored glasses and dismissed the lack of appreciation for heroes like Wonder Woman because she never interested me. Because I was lucky that I either intimidated men or impressed them with my slew of useless nerd knowledge and they never tried to assault me.
I still didn’t understand what feminism meant. I feared other women and steered clear of them because so far my experience had been men who respected and loved me and women who manipulated and betrayed me. I didn’t trust women so how could I ever call myself a feminist? Looking back I was scared. I was scared of women because I had fought against cruel competition and calculated frenemy tactics instead of cat-calling and attempts at sexual abuse. Again, I was lucky. I took advantage of leering men not approaching me because the safety blanket of guy friends. I just didn’t understand. Then my eyes were opened for me.
I can’t remember when I realized how wrong I was. It wasn’t an epiphany; there wasn’t a close-call that changed my mind. It was finding the right people explain it thoughtfully and without vitriol. Equality. That’s it. How could I have not seen it? It’s so obvious. Feminism is just the belief that women should have equal human rights. Women should be able to get the jobs that men get without an ugly stigma of being “career-driven.” Women can be stay-at-home moms if that’s what they want without being called “passive” and a “step backwards for womens’ rights.” And most importantly, this was big for me, feminists don’t have to wear plaid and shun away from makeup and romcoms, just like girlie girls are allowed to like superhero movies, play video games, and watch sports.
My whole life I lived with a tomboyish mom who didn’t touch makeup until after she graduated college who loved basketball and volleyball. And while she never made me feel bad for not loving sports I did feel like I was doing something wrong when I became interested in fashion and cosmetics. It wasn’t until very recently that I fully spit on these strange pre-conceived notions. Yeah, I like comic books but I also love blush and eyeliner. Yeah, I curse like a sailor but I love wearing dresses. Yeah, I wish I was John McClane but I also wish I was a magical girl. If you try to tell me I can’t be feminine and be a feminist then the last thing you’ll see is my perfect red lipstick before I punch you right in the teeth.
Gender roles are a joke and I’m so thankful that I married the sweetest, nicest, most generous and understanding man alive. Never once did he make excuses for MRA or defensively use the eye-roll inducing “not all men” response. He constantly apologizes for his gender and his skin color (or lack thereof.) “I’ll never understand the hardships of women or people of color. If I’m in a rut, if I’m jobless, if I’m not successful no one is to blame but me. It’s not like life hasn’t given me all the opportunities in the world.” Basically, if I had to marry a straight, white guy I’m really glad I picked this one.
#YesAllWomen isn’t about hating men, it’s about the truth behind the misogyny. It’s about how every woman has a story about being sexually harassed or being treated like a lesser human being just because we have two X chromosomes. #YesAllWomen is about how the world teaches boys and girls different lessons when they should be the same. #YesAllWomen is not an agenda, we’re not saying every man on Earth is a scumbag, but we are saying there isn’t a woman alive who has never faced sexism. I will absolutely not apologize if this topic makes you uncomfortable, it should. #YesAllWomen is real, it’s shitty, and even if you have never treated a woman like that next time you see/hear/read someone else acting like sexist fuckhead maybe you’ll say something and shut them the hell up. It’s too late to change the past but let’s make sure this shitshow doesn’t continue.
If a woman is telling you to your face about how she was abused and harassed by men and your instinct is to defend men, fly into the sun — Kendra W (@kendrawcandraw) May 25, 2014