Rant: Things are not ok

I don’t know, kids. I’m having a tough time with the world right now.

This recent bit of disgust and shame for the human race was initially sparked off by the death of Amanda Todd and the ignorant aftermath of some of her classmates and comments from others who should know better, the insane anti-abortion “debates” raging on both sides of the Canada-US border, debates which should not be occurring in the 21st century, and the generally horrible way I’m treated as a woman trying to exist autonomously in the world. It’s all getting to be a bit much.

Mitt Romney’s outright lies about asking for “binders full of women” (outed quickly here, and with statistics showing that the number of women actually went down during his time in office) generated a Tumblr within minutes. There’s now also an online game, and even the The Toronto Reference Library’s showcasing its binders full of women. It’s a light-hearted response to the systemic sexism running through his campaign, but let’s not forget that this is a party that’s promoting gradations of rape. There’s a point when this ceases to be funny. I think we’ve reached it.

This kind of ignorance isn’t limited to right wing nut jobs either, I posted about Jen McCreight, but it’s bigger than her. Rebecca Watson’s also written an excellent piece addressing sexism and misogyny in the skeptic and atheist communities, and Emma M. Woolley wrote a personal essay about what it’s like to be a teenage girl.

Wooley lives in Toronto, like me, and we are about the same age. Many of the things she writes about I’ve experienced personally, only not just as a teenager – not just in grade – but at age 10, 11, 12… Friends on other forums also chimed in with their experiences, which were similar. The abuse Woolley wrote about represents what happens in one form or another to most teenager girls. We have to stop accepting sexual abuse as a normal part of growing up.

I feel utterly powerless when it comes to this. I have no idea what to do, as even as a 30 year old woman living in Canada’s largest, and arguably most diverse and modern city, I’m still solicited on the street. I still get men shouting crude things at me from the sidewalk, or as they slow down in their cars, leering and honking at me. Men who demand I smile for them. Men who frankly appraise my body as I’m walking to work. Men, who I don’t know, who lean into me, touch me without my permission.

A fifteen year old boy was recently arrested, accused of assaulting more than a dozen women since August in Toronto neighbourhoods not far from my own.

There is nothing I should be doing differently. I should be free to live, dress, walk, run, cycle, work and fucking exist where I want, at any time of day or night, without fear of sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexual solicitation or sexual abuse of any kind, yet I’m not.

This is 21st century Canada, and things are seriously fucked up.