But I’m a Feminist…

My husband and I, on our wedding day (2006)

“I to know more about you! I see your profile and I adore you!” – complete strangers
Since setting up my blog and public Instagram account for my book reviews, I have received countless private messages from men whom I do not know, professing a desire to know my age, marital status and whether I would be DTF. I had originally thought that all of these people were simply bots, and were set up to troll the internet, and my sites had just gotten in the way. However, now I am not as sure that this is the case for every one of them. 

I received an email through the address created specifically for my review site – for this blog – that told me that this person was a successful business person, and he was not successful in his personal life and would like to get to know me better. I do not usually respond to these sorts of messages, as they do not pertain to the topic of the blog. However, this day, I was particularly full of piss and vinegar, and decided to reply. I told him I was sorry about his lack of success in his personal life, and that I reviewed books, and  that that was what my profile told him. He replied that he knew this, but would like to know me better than that. I told him there was not much else to know, and who was he? So he suddenly became a single, tragic Roman banker, who travels the world for business and is currently settled in New York and was looking for someone to talk to. If you know me, you know that I absolutely hate small talk, and have no interest in carrying on ridiculous conversations with people that I am not even convinced exist. So, I did what I always do when I feel cornered by this type of person – I play the Married Card.

I have been married to my husband for nearly eleven years, we have been together for 18 years, we have two beautiful kids, and the fact that our relationship is still going strong is one of my proudest accomplishments; HOWEVER, I am also a feminist who has only recently felt brave enough to use my voice loudly and publicly, and now I feel that my old go-to shield of my wedding ring is not very feminist at all. Why should I allow the fact that my husband exists be the reason that I do not care for unwanted advances and flirtations? I don’t want them because they are rude, they are uncalled for, they are disgusting, and I am a human being who ought to be treated like one. The man who messaged me last week saying that he “came across [my] gorgeous profile” and wanted to know what I do said that he doesn’t care for books – the direct message came through my Bookstagram profile. When I told him I reviewed books and what sort did he like, he replied “I don’t read, but I just “adore you””. What sort of nonsense is this? What part of book reviews gives you the impression that I want you to hit on me? 

In the months since this blog has been live, I have been woken to a whole new world of male privilege – if a profile looks female, I shall hit on her, and she shall be honoured! I have friends who are single and deal with this sort of crap in “real life”, and this furthers my desire to break free of my easy reply of “married” – they do not have that to go to when a situation gets uncomfortable. I have had friends turn down dates because they weren’t interested to have the men lash out via text that they were not deserving of love or attention; I have had friends find their dating stories show up online and themselves dehumanized. Male entitlement and privilege is a thing in real life, but when we are just typing we, as people, feel safer to spew nastiness or innuendo than we would in person. I wonder if some of these messages would be spoken aloud should these people meet me in the street? I wonder if my friends’ would-be paramours would be so quick to switch to nasty name calling or depersonalizations if my friends had been sitting across the table? 

I wish I had a suggestion or a closing argument that would cause these things to stop. I wish there was a button next to the mute button on my Twitter that said “Chauvinist”. I wish my friends did not have their own insecurities thrown back in their faces by these men. And most of all, I wish… no, I am DETERMINED to defend myself and shut people down without making my “man” do it for me. 

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