I was studying sociology for a year as my main faculty of the Interdisciplinary Humanist Studies. I remember one of the first classes on the philosophy so vividly, one moment of it, just like it was yesterday. We had to anonymously fill a survey, one of the questions was: who are you? I didn't think on that for a long, straight away I wrote "I'm a human being, female sex". After we gave our cards to the teacher, she was reading the answers aloud and I remember the outburst of laugh that I've heard when she was reading my response. I was really confused and surprised at that moment, wondering what is so funny? I AM a human being, that's first of all. And just then I am a woman, with my body build and hormones being different than guys.
Chapter one - Tomboy
I've recently finished reading awesome and amazing comic book "Tomboy" by Liz Prince, recommended to me by my best friend. When she was talking about that she said: you will be able to relate. And oh boy, how much I did! Being raised as the only girl in my generation, having only one younger brother and two male cousins (later 4 more appeared), I was somehow naturally forced into "guys stuff" - like sports, football, fighting etc, in which I'm even more now.
I also loved "Tomboy" because I felt like a weirdo for my whole life.
When I was going shopping for clothes with my first boyfriend, he always said that I have a ban on looking on the left side of the shop - that was usually the "man's" part that I liked much more than the girls one. Luckily, now I'm with my fiancee who accepts my "man's side" along with my male friends and love for fighting.
When I was growing up I was always very sensitive about the unequal treatment that I received from adults - I "should have been smarter", which meant that I should've give up during the fight or argument, even I was right, but the best would be if I didn't fight at all. I also shouldn't shout, shouldn't sit with my legs spread wide, cause it's not right for a woman (don't know why it's right for one sex and wrong for the other). I should've behave better, know better. Well, I knew better, but not the way adults expected from me. I was shouting and fighting and crying even more.
I'm also pissed off when people ask me questions like "but your boyfriend doesn't mind that you roll with other guys"? First of all, if he had something against it, he couldn't be my boyfriend. Second, there is nothing sexual in rolling so there's nothing to be against it.
Or when they ask me if he doesn't mind "when I go out alone" or "when I go for the beer with my male friend". For fuck sake, are all the people thinking with their penises and vaginas? And do people think that when a girl has a boyfriend she's nothing more than "her boyfriends girl"?
Chapter two - jiu-jitsu
I love jiu-jitsu but I find the mat quite a sexist place. I've trained capoeira, aikido and self-defence in Poland and I was always treated the same way as guys were. I was encouraged to cross my borders, not to shut within them.
Generally, whenever poor guys have to train with me, I can see the unhappiness on their faces. And they rarely do the techniques properly. They don't finish it.
When they have to push me as the part of the exercise, they say "sorry" when doing that. When they have to touch me, they do it like I'm being made of porcelain. And when I'm chocking them or doing the triangle they're surprised how strong it is. But I'm on the mat to learn how to fight and to fight and if I were some princess, then I would go for a different hobby. Luckily, my coaches are amazing and they motivate me, but still... I didn't meet with that kind of behavior in Poland.
Neither in the group that I started, except for one situation. It was a small group and I quickly felt a part of it. I've heard that guys didn't like to roll with me but it was because I'm strong and difficult. But there was one situation when my coach wasn't able to do the class and he's asked his friend. At the end of the class we had a sparing - everyone had to roll with every other person in the class. Then there was a turn for me and my mate who had a competition coming. Guess what? I've heard that he won't go with me because he has to "practice before the competition". Obviously, I've never ever again went to the class when my coach was away.
Chapter three - man&woman friendship
So you tell me that the friendship between guy and girl doesn't exist? Then tell me why can I meet with my friend once in a while for a beer, talk for hours, like we did in work or eat pizza in the car and just be happy the way it is?
I've met my friend in my first work in Ireland - and when we started to talk it was a kind of an "instant click". He's also Polish. We were working at the same table three times a week, talking, talking and talking. Guess what? Many times I've heard bullshit like "Ada, but do you remember that he has wife and kids"? Sure I remembered, as well as I remembered that I have a boyfriend but nobody seemed to care about that part. I remember surprised looks when I was telling people that we're gonna go together for a training, that we went for a beer, etc.
When we started to develop the relationship, I had a problem with a co-worker saying inappropriate stuff to me. I didn't know what to do so I talked to my friend and he encouraged me to say to the guy that I feel harassed and that he has to stop it. I did it and it sort of worked.
And I'm very happy to have that kind of empathetic, sensitive and sensible person as a friend - a guy who sees a human in me, not a pussy.
Chapter four - I don't even know how to call it...
I was quite shocked after moving to Ireland. I had quite a few male friends from school and trainings. And after I arrived here, I had a few weird situations with guys (at least they felt weird to me, maybe they seem normal to other people).
At first on a book swap a guy who was at least 20 yrs older than me said that he would like to give me a bunch of books. OK, we've scheduled a meeting for the lunch the next day.
We were talking and I said something about my boyfriend - the surprise on his face has surprised me. Do I have to say that he disappeared quite quickly? We've exchanged e-mails saying that we'll discuss those books later but this has never happened. I was left with a jaw on the ground and a bunch of books to comfort.
Then there was other situation. I was on the afternoon job interview in a private school. The guy who was doing it was talking for ages, repeating himself over and over like he would like to buy some time and then finally he said "and now we will go for the tea". I said that now I will go home. It was NOT a fucking date.
Also a friend of mine who works in Poland has told me recently that a guy in her work says an inappropriate stuff to her, like "don't do that or I will spank you in the ass" or giving clear suggestions of what he would do to her if they were left alone. She said that she told her boss about the first thing. Her boss is female and what she said? "Well, he shouldn't say so". End of case. Fucking hell, why don't women fight for the respect for themselves?
Chapter five - victim is not the one to blame. NEVER
Speaking of fighting - some time ago I've read an amazing speech given by Ken Lay on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women given in Monash University in Melbourne. It touched me because this guy also has so much sensitivity, empathy and wisdom. He said that "attitudes are so embedded that we don't challenge them", that "we give boys licence to act abusively and we develop in girls deference to that behavior. (...) Boys are taught to blame circumstance for their aggression – girls to contemplate how they might have provoked it. (...) We’re encouraging girls to feel complicit in their own abuse. We're asking them to blame themselves. (...) But not only do we encourage girls to blame themselves – we’ll blame them too.
Only a few weeks ago, Detective Jason Walsh from Victoria Police went on local radio to discuss a brutal and sadistic rape.
The radio host read out a few texts messages from listeners, messages that asked what a young girl was doing in a park at 4 am.
I thought these questions were callous and misguided and evidently Detective Walsh did too.
This was his response: “I find it amazing, that we question girls and we question their behaviour but we don't ask: 'what are four blokes doing, allegedly raping a young girl?’”
Walsh went on: “You know, that's my take on that sort of question and I’ve been in this sexual assault field for many years…
I find it amazing that people straight away question females about their actions.
I mean, what are four males doing allegedly gang raping a young girl?
That’s the question I’d ask.
That’s the question everyone in this room should ask.
Boys will be boys … and it’s up to girls to adjust accordingly. .
We can't challenge them because at times we can't see them.
Guys, who will understand that a woman dressing a mini isn't a problem, or a woman walking alone in the night - the problem are the guys who cannot respect her as a human being, the guys who rape - they are the problem, no matter the circumstances".
Soon after that speech the "Dear Dad" spot has shown up on youtube. This time I was more than touched - I was really crying at the end of it and I couldn't stop. I showed it to my fiancee who said that it's really powerful and well done.
But on the Polish website where I found this spot the comments were like "girls are guilty cause they get drunk and they pass out". So fucking what that they pass out? If guy passes out do other guys rape him? I'm sure that such situations happen but much more rarely. Guy can get drunk, girl not. Why? Cause guys still didn't evolve to be the human beings and they're still animals? That's the only reason that comes to my mind.
Some people also said that this spot is bad because it shows a woman as a weak being who requires the help from the man. Jaysis, did those people understand what they saw? The spot is addressed to "dear daddy" who probably like all boys in the high school, "called girl a whore just for fun". But there are other guys who really think that way about females so they rape. So the spot is telling guys: treat girls with respect. It's not telling HELP THAT FUCKING POOR PASSIVE PRINCESS. It says: respect the women.
What brings me to another wonderful lesson that floats in the net: consent as a cup of tea. Beautifully simply explained.
I could brag about that for ever.
But I'd just prefer to see more guys around like my friend or fiancee who treat women with respect, who encourage and support them. I don't want to see women as victims. I don't want to see them suffer. I don't want to see them choosing the guys who humiliate them.
I also want other women to not judge each other so hard. Honestly, in my opinion, in the civilized society woman should be able to go through the street naked and not be exposed to the harassment, and abuse from both, guys and girls.
So Dear Daddy, please stop saying all that humiliating and decreasing stuff about women who work with you or are better than you. Don't say that the woman who conquers Mount Everest was brought in there by Sherpas. Would you like to hear something like that about me?
I used to work on night shifts. One night I was coming back home with my friend and then we've heard a banging sound and we saw a guy holding his girlfriends head and banging it into the glass wall of the bus stop (remember that scene from the Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy? It was almost like that). My friend said "let's do something, he's gonna kill her" and I remember feeling so horribly, terribly weak. I didn't have my pepper spray with me cause I just lost it somewhere a few days ago, I felt small and useless. She saw some guys coming out from the club and she said to them "look, there's a guy who's hitting his girl, he's gonna kill her" and they were only laughing. Yes, really, it was funny for them, he was really laughing when he was talking to his friends: "look, he left the club and is beating up his girlfriend" and he said that it's not his business. They left and we hid behind the bus stop, painfully hearing every thud, calling the 112 - but for all that time and I guess it was at least 10 mins no one has responded. We were calling the police and no one responded as well. I've finally managed to call the emergency medical services thinking that they should have some channels to contact the police but they told me that they cannot do anything and that I just should keep trying 112 and 997. Suddenly, the hitting and crying of that girl stopped. When we've checked, the pair was gone, they were nowhere nearby. I don't want to see that kind of the situations. I don't want them to happen. And I don't want feel so useless.
On the world, one in three women will expect some sort of an abuse so it's quite likely that you have someone suffering around you. So please, open your eyes. Don't blame victims. Think - would you blame your mother/daughter/sister if they were coming back home late and someone has attack them? Would you like them to be treated like objects? No? Then don't do that to other women. They deserve being treated with respect. Even when they pass out or have many sexual partners - it's their choice and there is nothing that can justify violence in any kind.