Wherever you go, you are judged and seen as little more as an object. As long as you’re a woman of course. A good example of this can be seen in public swimming pools and the like. Because I live in an apartment in the heart of a major city, I don’t have a private pool (should I ever feel like living in a quieter area, I’ll make sure to have one with a decent length).
I already knew from previous experience that there would be a lot of looking and ‘accidentally’ bumping into me and unwanted comments, so I tended to avoid swimming pools. But, now that I have a daughter, I feel obliged to teach her how to swim despite some unpleasant experiences with water. And, given my lack of a public pool and a lack of a desire to ask someone who has one (and pride), it had to be done in a public one.
Naturally, I made sure to get a swimsuit (the kind that swimmers wear), I never really liked bikinis because so many of them aren’t made to actually swim in. And, of course, I was basically trying to hide myself from peering eyes. At the same time, I knew that I would look strange and draw attention. But then again, I almost always do that. But still, I could feel the looks. But that’s just looks. The problem was that men kept bothering me as I tried to teach someone to swim (awful teacher, really, I needed my full attention). Naturally, I ignored them, which led to anger, and quite a few unpleasant comments directed towards me. Fortunately, we were in a shallow part, so it was harder for them to attempt to touch me.
This made me think once again about how men claim possession of our bodies. Wherever we are, we are there for their pleasure. They are utterly incapable of seeing a woman as an individual. It’s so easy to notice when you walk somewhere, you will see their eyes going all over your body, but never once to your face. Perhaps as an afterthought, but that already is rare. And when we don’t do what they want, they get angry. They call us all sorts of things to shame us into giving in to them.
It’s not that I hate attention. I’ve had photos of me plastered all over the country and was on the covers of magazines and all that. I’m used to it. But I want the attention to be on my terms, and to not be bothersome. I don’t like it when men stare at me and try to talk to me even when I clearly wear headphones (I have quite large ones for if I have to take public transport, so they’re easily visible). I hate it when they try to touch me.
But as soon as that’s even vaguely alluded to, they become angry. Then I’m a stuck up bitch, an icy monster who just doesn’t care for them. And that is the heart of male entitlement. They honestly believe that fundamentally, all women should care for them. They should be there for them unconditionally. Except, they allow for one condition. A woman can already belong to another man. They see us as possessions, and as long as there isn’t a clear owner, free to be taken. And of course, they can always look.
Those are things that should be clear to anyone who has lived in our patriarchal world for even a few moments, but that doesn’t offer any kind of justification. Fundamentally, the burqa and staring of men are exactly the same thing, attempts to control women. To reduce us to less than human. They take away from the face, from the person, and reduce a woman to just her body, to an object for male desires.