"Good luck with the little drama queen," they say when they find out I'm expecting a girl.
It seems we gals have a rep right out of the womb -- as dramatic, irrational whack-jobs. I hear it all around me, from both men and women. I've even said it myself. She's a total psycho. His ex is a crazy bitch. My friend's mom is nuts. And I've been the subject of such comments too, more than I care to remember.
When there's an incident, nobody seems to need any further information about the other parties involved, because everyone already knows the human with the vagina is the one to point the finger at. Whatever happened, she caused it. She overreacted. 'Cause she's crazy. 'Cause she's a she.
To the male observer, we womenfolk must seem strange creatures, preoccupied with primping, preening, and obsessing about everything from our weight to our wallpaper. Our weak, shallow female minds can't cope with the chaos of the real world so we lash out at poor, unsuspecting men. We get mad when they drink too much or flirt too much. We key their cars like Carrie Underwood in her "Before He Cheats" video. We boil their pet bunnies when they dump us like Glen Close in Fatal Attraction. Oh yes, these things happen all the time. We've been typecast as lunatics for hundreds of years. For crying out loud, the word "hysteria" comes from the Greek for "uterus." Because hysteria -- nowadays, more commonly called the crazy cakes -- was thought to be exclusive to the ones with the wombs. And remember Jane Eyre? We're all "crazy women in the attic." Aren't we lucky.
So, when one of us is assaulted and comes forward, many people instantly think: oh she's exaggerating, seeking attention or revenge or a payday. It's a pattern, after all. Obviously the fussing over our bodies is purely about seeking attention and not because we've been conditioned to be wholly insecure about ourselves throughout history. And clearly we're going through daily life like balls of stress because we are imbalanced nut jobs, not because we actually do have a hundred things to do with most of the parenting and household tasks falling to us.
When Jian Ghomeshi was accused of sexual violence a few weeks ago, over a hundred thousand people -- many of them women -- immediately jumped to support him and his Facebook post claiming it was all the plot of jilted lovers. A male friend of mine heard the news and quipped, "yeah, after five or six times of getting slapped around they decided they didn't like it anymore." He said that out loud, without doing an ounce of research or thinking. Because clearly any woman accusing Ghomeshi, or Bill Cosby, or any beloved man, was a crazy bitch bent on revenge. There was no other possibility.
I mean, of course we women are the ones with the reputation as the jealous lovers who'll go to any length to destroy our rejectors. That makes total sense. It's not like 85 per cent of domestic abuse in Canada involves men against women, invariably driven by anger and jealously. It's not like the vast majority of stalking is done by men, targeting women. Someone must have made up the news story about the man who shot his ex, Julianne Hibbs, and her partner in CBS last year with an AK-47. The cops must have got it wrong yesterday when they found the body of Canadian actress Stephanie Moseley, slain by her husband. Maybe some crazy chick invented all these stats to make things go her way. Perhaps some loony seamstress made Big Ears Teddy and planted him in Ghomeshi's room to frame him for trading her in for a younger model.
How horribly, horribly difficult it is for us to come forward when we've been assaulted. No wonder we swallow the pain and go back to our primping and preening and being seen not heard. In some cases, like that of 17-year-old Rehtaeh Parsons in Nova Scotia who was raped and bullied for months, we see no way out and just can't live with the pain. We just can't win, not in this world. Because anything resembling drama -- no matter how warranted that drama is, though it may just be the plain and ugly truth -- is synonymous with deceit.
There is power in numbers, thankfully, and sadly. When a slew of totally unconnected, respected women share similar accounts of their encounters with Ghomeshi, or Cosby, logic dictates they're telling the truth. But one average woman's story is rarely enough. One ordinary woman must certainly be out to ruin the life of a great man when he stops calling, or when she decides she needs some drama in her little, female life. And god forbid she be a prostitute or -- dear god no -- a woman who likes to have sex. Then nobody listens at all. Because she's the epitome of crazy, straight from the attic. If she really was assaulted, surely she's at least partly to blame.
I think the world is changing, slowly, because we're finally talking about these things, pushing them out into the light and, hopefully, handing down consequences so young people can better understand what's simply not acceptable. I just hope the world has changed enough by the time my little girl is a young woman, so she can escape the stereotype into which she'll be born. So she can feel safe and hopeful and equal and brave in the world, no matter how much of a drama queen she is.
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