The festive season is upon us, which means we’re also going to get the inevitable bombardment of “safety advice” (remain indoors, ladies!), combined with an upswing of creepy men being creepy. Funnily enough, the safety advice never really focuses on this most immediate threat, the creepy men you have to spend time with, presumably because patriarchy has a vested interest in forcing women and femmefolk to remain unboundaried around these horrid creatures. To even out the balance, ever so slightly, I therefore present a safety guide that might actually help around this festive season as well as over the rest of the year.
It’s OK to be a bitch
“Bitch” is a word that is thrown at women and femmefolk when we’re not behaving as we should. We’re made to feel that being a bitch is the worst thing in the world, but as a matter of fact, it isn’t. It’s just articulating and enforcing boundaries. If you’ve made your boundaries nice and clear, chances are this will upset entitled men. They’ll call you a bitch. This is a compliment to you: you’ve put the message across to them, and now they understand it, and they hate you for it. When you get called a bitch, you’ve won. They’ve realised they’re not going to wheedle themselves into the gift of your company, and that’s a good thing.
Wear the label “bitch” with pride. Each time you hear it, absorb the power. It will make you stronger and stronger. Feel the ancient power of the bitch coursing through your veins, and let it infuse you with the strength to upset more creepy men.
Trust no man
It’s by no means unfamiliar to most of us that the man who rapes you is unlikely to be a stranger on a darkened street, but someone you know. The same also goes for any violation of boundaries. We are taught that we should trust men that we know, or else we’re bitches. We’re also taught to assume good intentions from men, or else we’re bitches. Both of these beliefs only help rapists and creeps.
I can count on one hand the number of men I trust, and all of them have only proved it over a very long time and a number of trying circumstances. The thing, I think, that allows me to trust them is knowing full well that they know that I will revoke this trust within the space of fucking seconds, never to trust them again, if they fuck up in any way.
The way we’re told to do things is all wrong. When it comes to men, start from a position of suspicion and an assumption of bad faith. Let them prove themselves. And if they hold it against you, they’ve shown themselves to definitely not be worthy of your trust.
Trust your instincts
Sometimes we feel uncomfortable around certain men, and can’t put our fingers on why. There’s just a barely tangible vibe of something not being quite right, and we just want to be as far away from that dude as possible.
Trust that instinct. I spent a very long time trying to suppress it, and each time, I was proved that my instincts were correct. If you think there’s something off about a man, you are in no way obliged to be in his company, or be alone with him, or whatever it is that doesn’t feel right to you.
If anything happens, it’s not your fault
This is a very, very important thing that cannot be said enough: when a man crosses one of your boundaries, it’s never your fault. If he rapes you, it’s not your fault. If he gropes you, it’s not your fault. If he gives you a double instead of a single, it’s not your fault. If he stands too close, and you don’t tell him to back the fuck off but it makes you uncomfortable, it’s not your fault. If he crosses a boundary you never knew you had, it’s not your fault.
When men cross lines, it’s their fault, not yours. They should have the basic responsibility to check, and not to use social circumstances to coerce. And, of course, the basic respect to stay with your boundaries.
This knowledge makes you a bitch, because you’re supposed to feel guilty and ashamed, to shift the blame on to yourself rather than on to the true perpetrator in those situations.
It’s OK to be this bitch. It’s healthy for you, it will help you heal. Be a bitch, and be a proud, strong bitch, every day of the year.