I don’t smoke. I still have stress and anxiety but I don’t smoke. I come from a household of smokers and all of them look to light up when things are getting stressful for them. Since I was 10 years old, I’ve taken walks and bike rides to ease stress. All the way up to today if I’m feeling like I need a breather and the weather isn’t too awful, I’ll leave the house and take a stroll. I don’t come home, or at least don’t turn around to go home until I feel better. Like until I’ve organized my head to the best of my ability. This has kept me from cracking at many points in my life, and I feel it also kept me from an addiction. That time alone isn’t something many people know but it has still defined my life.
When I’ve brought this up to women, I usually get a response where they say they do that too only in a vehicle. For the ones that don’t drive, I don’t get much of a response. It took me years to figure out the reason. They can’t. Or rather, it’s an immediate risk to their life to do it.
When I started doing it, I was probably at an age where I was a danger to being kidnapped. It never happened, but the danger was there until I turned around 14 or 15. After that, my walks and bike rides, the only real confrontations I ever had was from police wondering why I was out so late. I should mention that sometimes I was biking or walking at 3AM because I couldn’t sleep. For the police, I was likely looked upon as doing something suspicious. If I was a woman, they’d be worried for my safety.
I’m not saying this as some form of double standard against men. It’d be nice if women were looked upon as doing something suspicious at 3AM when they were taking a walk. But that just doesn’t happen. And the first response for a police officer is that someone might rape or attack that woman. Not that even though they are patrolling the streets, there are still rapists out there.
This is just a personal account of how the #YesAllWomen relates to the small things you never think about.
I know far too many men who get angry when feminism is mentioned. That equality was achieved before they were born and all of these feminists are just taking from them. They can’t have fun anymore. They can’t laugh at jokes anymore. Women are taking their jobs when they are not as qualified. Women have too much power in the relationship already. Everyone is taking things too serious and since they’ve never raped a woman so this shouldn’t matter to them. I also know women who openly claim to not be a feminist and think these women are giving them a bad name. A similar tone that because they were never raped, this doesn’t concern them.
I’m not even the best person to speak on the subject but it’s an unfortunate misunderstanding as to what feminism is. I’ve always recognized that it’s the word “feminism” that most of the problem comes from. As Quinn Norton put it better than I ever will, “Women need feminism, but men need it more.” Too often people read feminism as “A Woman’s Thing” when it should be a Man’s thing. This is a problem created by men, perpetrated by men and now treated as the enemy of men. One of those enemies was Elliot Rodger. And now women (and men) are dead because of him.
Rodger’s was not a victim of feminism. He was a victim of the nature of manhood. He was a victim of the patriarchy. He was a victim of the expectations put on men and the expectations put on women by his forefathers. He believed a lie that felt natural to him. Natural through his media. Natural through his politics. Natural through his belief system. Cell growth and cell division is natural in the body too until it’s uncontrollable. Then it can become cancer. Rodger’s opinions were a cancer that eventually broke down any semblance of reason or order in his mind. And he isn’t alone. He isn’t even the first to kill about it.
But I’m not about to just write Rodge’rs off as being insane. No, I’m sick of every white male that murders women being called crazy and everyone else being either called a criminal or a terrorist. This is not a sickness that just happens to a few. Red Pill, incel, Men’s Rights Movements, it’s pretty clear this disease has spread. Or maybe not.
When I think of our modern timeline, I realize that men and women used to think these things all the time. Sometimes even worse. Our sense of value for another human being has improved overall in the western world. We don’t treat Africans as cattle. We’re no longer treating women as property. Homosexuality isn’t some aberration or disease that will eventually be cured. There are still segments of the population that do but this isn’t standard thinking. This isn’t the norm anymore.
But do not mistake me in saying that things are better and can walk away. Think of it more like a dead battery that we’ve recharged at 5%. You can still use it but the day you unplug is the inevitable, quick death of that battery. Just because we got a little use and a little movement doesn’t mean things are over. They are far from over. I’ll die before it’s over.
I’ve felt a similar anger to Elliot Rodger’s. I have been that teenager/young adult feeling like women take advantage of my kindness. I have seethed at assholes getting with girls I wanted to be with. I’ve been lost, wondering what I have to do to make someone like me. I still get lost about that from time to time. Only now, I realize that kindness is not currency. Being a decent human being to another person does not mean that person owes you in any way. They don’t even have to be nice back to you. And they certainly don’t have to kiss you, or hug you, or hold your hand or fuck you. Blame the concept of soulmates but nobody is born to be your lover.
I’ve been the nice guy; only friends with a woman because I wanted to fuck her. I’ve been an asshole to women. I’ve disrespected them. I’ve kissed a girl when she was too drunk to make rational decisions. I have assumed equality when it didn’t exist. I’d like to believe that the Aaron Wrotkowski I was a decade ago was a third wave feminist cyborg or even the Aaron Wrotkowski I am today does and thinks everything he should to be one. But I’m not. Every day I work on it. Every day I regret my past actions and hope I learned. Every day I try to be more accepting, and more importantly, every day I hope to be inspire men and women to think about who they are and change what isn’t making their life and those around them better.
This isn’t about vilifying men or being ashamed of being a man. I’m not ashamed of being a man. This is about recognizing that we need to do a better job with how we observe and treat those around us. Stop trying to make this a, “What about my troubles?” issue. Stop asking that. Start focusing on a problem right in front of you. Start recognizing just how much damage you can do without thinking about it. How much damage we all cause because we spend too much caring about what’s natural to us instead of what we should reject.
If thinking about feminism immediately makes you think that you’re giving up your rights for someone else, you’re likely beyond help. But if you are willing to listen, think about it for a second. Think about how your fears of eventually being treated as less? That’s because there are people treated less now. And that some of the things you get to do? Others can’t out of fear. Your fears do not exist yet. Their fears exist now, and it’s the same fears your mother grew up with. Stop treating this like it doesn’t concern you. It does. It always has. It always will. When people live in fear, humanity has failed. And removing one person’s fear doesn’t mean you now have to live in fear.
Tonight, I’m going to go for a walk. I won’t walk in fear of my own safety. I wish I could say the same for everyone else.