Today I feel like writing for men. Because I’m afraid men are in danger. And if they are, then we are too.
I’m a woman. I know the hunter, the manipulator, the despising, the oaf, the criminal. The ones who harm women because they are women. Those who have made them the objects of their impulses, the carpets where they wipe their frustrations, the territories where they exercise their power. But I don’t want to give these men the exclusivity to represent all men. They have no right to take away from men what it means to be a man. And I won’t let some women, who have as much ideology as the ones they intend to fight, turn all men into enemies. We have to fight a patriarchy that we all reproduce, either by believing in it, submitting to it, or by being indifferent to it. This is a long fight, but it is not a fight against men, nor against white men more than others, nor against rich men more than others. Contempt and violence against women exist among non-white and poor communities too.
However much I will fight with all my strength to be respected, not only as a woman, but as an individual, with dark or black skin, with a body that isn’t what we see in magazines, with my own personality – too intense, too demanding, too much – with multiple cultural attachments, with identities that do not fit the boxes. I will also fight with all my energy so that we don’t crush these men. Lovers or seducers, one-night stands or partner for life. Those who know how to embody their feelings and those who don’t, those who think they are doing right and do wrong, those who don’t know what to do, those who are afraid and who run away, and those who wonder if they can still tell a woman she is beautiful. I want these men by my side, clumsy, shy, uncertain. I need these men to love me. To welcome my power as I will welcome their fragility.
I don’t want anyone, man or woman, to come to me pretending to know how to deal with me just because I am a woman. I am not just a woman. I am a woman and so more. I don’t approach men thinking Men are this or that, or As woman to woman, we understand each other. My sympathies go way beyond my gender. I want to be friends with men, I want to approach them like a pal, I don’t want to restrain myself thinking it might be misinterpreted. I want to say : “He looks like my brother. The one I never had.”
I will not follow all women because they are women. I will stand with all the victims of injustice violence and lies, but their suffering will never justify in my eyes any shortcut to the truth, any contempt or return of violence. Today’s fights take place in binary oppositions between of the powerful against the weak, the rich against the poor, the good against the bad, minorities against the White, women against men. This fight I will not attend. I have witnessed the complexity of reality, of situations, of human relationships. I know these binary patterns are nothing more than comfortable pillows so we can be sure to rest on the good side, but don’t help to solve anything. I’ve known wonderful rich people and poor schmucks, open White people and racist non-whites, respectful men and contemptuous women. And I’ve known the opposite of course.
No doubt the victims of rape and sexual assault have to raise their voices. Their shouting is as loud as the violence they have suffered. But this need to speak will only be a new act of violence, if it is vomited on what some are creating : a manufactured fantasized man to be trampled on. Instead, we should concentrate on real men in all their diversity and complexity, and speak as much as listen and try to understand. I will fight with these men and women who welcome the complexity of life and fight to serve an ideal of justice and truth.
Being a woman is not my flag. It is simply one of my truths. No more, no less than any other. I will not wave it against men, but with them. By saying this is the woman I am, I will allow them to become the men we may hope.