by Shaker GimliGirl, a 25-year-old mom, wife, student, and teaspooner at a Canadian University trying to get her Bachelor's of Education without losing her mind.
Today in my Science/Social Science class I came up against such a staggering display of male privilege that I was literally left jaw agape and shaking. We had been discussing the gang rape that happened in Richmond, which naturally led into discussion of rape in general (but thankfully no victim blaming!). We began to discuss the media influence vs. parent influence on what sexual assault is and what is acceptable and what our role, as future teachers, can and should be. It was a lot more than our teacher wanted to discuss but that's where we went and I'm glad it was brought up before we start our placement next Monday.
As a part of the discussion, I brought up the repeated and persistent commoditization and objectification of women through the media and society in general. It was supposed to be a final point, so I made sure to give it my best; the headless women in advertising being used to sell everything from makeup to cars to their very selves, and how we're seen as nothing but an object to be consumed, and how important it is for us, as future teachers, to be all in with our students and our community, to be good role models. I reiterated the objectification and commodification of women point and finished.
A young man that I've butted heads with a few times already this semester raised his hand and he was given the floor. He said "I don't think that's true. I don't think that the objectification of women is as widespread as that. That's not true." My jaw, if it could have, would have literally hit the floor.
I wanted to leap out of my seat and shout at him "WHAT?! Are you stupid?! BULLSHIT!" But I didn't. I've already set myself quite apart from my classmates through other discussions and don't really need to become completely alienated. Instead I said, loudly, "I respectfully disagree." A few people snickered and repeated what I said because I was obviously very upset, and our prof. dragged us back on topic.
After a few minutes I was still so livid I had to leave the room; water bottle in hand I left and went down the hallway to get a drink. Not yet ready to return to class I paced the hallway for a few minutes and decided to call my hubby, but a friend from class caught up with me first, asking if I was alright. Honestly, I wasn't sure what to say. I'm still shaking as I write about this. We talked about it-well, I ranted about it for a few minutes, and went back to class, wondering and shaking our heads how someone could be so completely out of touch with reality to say such a thing.
Later on, having called home to say goodnight to my son, I got the chance to tell my husband about my day. I was going over the afternoon again with him when I realized; not only did this man's comment in class completely nullify my experiences as a woman, as a person, living in this world and its rape culture and its constant media portrayals of sex and violence and the very objectification I was talking about, it nullifies those of every other woman, of every other person, who HAS experienced it.
Through his one comment, "That's not true." he attempted to wipe out the experiences, thoughts and feelings, of thousands of people. He called everyone who didn't agree with him a liar.
One thing I am not is a liar, and I know Liss is not a liar, and I know Shakers aren't liars. Our words are too precious to be used to lie; our words are sacred, they are our teaspoons, our chants, our songs, our fists in the air against the daily oppression that surrounds us and tries to beat us down from nearly every side. Our words, so often disbelieved and pushed aside and simply not heard, cannot be lies because we can't waste time with lies, we can't waste breath with lies. Truth is our ally as much as we are each others' allies. We are not liars; we are truth-tellers in a world that hates the truth, that doesn't want to hear it, that possibly can't handle it because the truth about the world we live in is sometimes so horrifying that I wonder how any of us rolls out of bed in the morning.