Featuring some classical art, because well... Men blaming women is classic.
In 2012 the entertainer, feminist icon and designer of Fenty Savage : Robyn Rihanna Fenty tweeted out to the world “Never underestimate a man's ability to make you feel guilty for his mistakes”. Even though I was only 14 years old, a mere child, and had no experience whatsoever of romantic or sexual relationships with men, I felt as if this spoke to me on a spiritual level. So did a lot of girls on Tumblr at the time. Something shot through my body, and I now believe that was the first step in my feminist radicalisation. Rihanna's tweet put into words the phenomenon that a lot of people, especially women, experience when dating, hooking up or simply being around men.
Four years after the infamous tweet, I found myself at a boys apartment in the 14th arrondissement in Paris. This guy was five years older, and therefore I assumed he was also a lot more sexually experienced than I was (which in retrospect, I’ve come to realise probably wasn’t the case). After talking for a couple of minutes he proceeded to take off my shirt, and began trying to unhook my bra. As you do. The bra in question was a white lace balconette from Victoria’s Secret. I had bought it in fear of disappointing the nosy, floral-scented cashier who kept entering my dressing room and adjusting my brassiere. But let's get back to the chambre-de-bonne in the 14th. After a few minutes of aimlessly poking around the rear part of my bra he stopped, the clasp intact and buckled, essentially untouched. He looked at me and said “Dude, I’ve never had trouble unhooking a bra before. Where did you buy this thing?” Even though I understood he didn't mean it as a direct accusation, he still managed to make it seem as if him being unable to remove my undergarment was an issue that I had caused. I left his house feeling embarrassed and guilty about the fact that I had unconsciously chosen the most difficult bra there was to unhook. This was the first time (of many times to come) that a man had made me feel guilty for his mistakes.
Two years after this french guilt-tripping experience I found myself at another man's house. We didn't know each other very well. And this was the first, and last, time we would ever... copulate. Just to be clear, the following part will be a bit TMI, but I have dedicated myself to my art and so I will share this uncomfortable story with you. Where were we? Ah, yes! As we were having sex in his apartement I all of a sudden felt a throbbing pain in my asshole, similar to the sensation of pooping - if you were to crap genetically modified watermelons. He had (and I use this word as lightly as the English language permits) mistakenly inserted his phallus into the wrong orifice. I turned around in rage, because even though I’m not an anti-anal girl, one shall always ask before putting it in the ass. He did apologize, but pretty half-arsed if I’m being honest. I don't remember his exact words, but it went something along the lines of “Wow! Sorry, bro. But, like, your vagina is, like, incredibly low.” So basically what he said was: I’m sorry I hurt you, but it's not really my fault. I mean, your body is built weird, and therefore you are the problem, not me. He managed to blame my anatomy for his lack of sharpshooting. This obviously made me angry, but also ensued in me developing a weird body-dysmorphic-y complex about the placement of my vaginal opening.
These are just two examples of men blaming me for their mistakes. I do realise that they, just like
me, are victims of the patriarchy and gender norms. But I’m still stunned by the fact that most
men rarely pay any attention to their awful behavior. Or questions their own actions after they’ve
offended me. In a greater context this particular behavior has become the root to the incel
movement- groups of involuntarily celibat men gathering online to criticize and blame women
for their lack of sexual activity. The incel movement thrives of off blaming women for their
faults and failures, by claiming that the women who does not sleep with them are either sluts or
simply too stupid.
Accusing women of wrongdoing even though a man is responsible, is not a modern phenomenon. It can be traced back to the beginning of time. The story of Adam and Eve, the Original Sin, is a prime example of a man blaming a woman for his own “mishaps”, and getting away with it, sort of. The Original Sin is one of the world's most famous stories, where the plot just so happens to disfavor a woman and blame her for, not only her but, her male counterpart's wrongdoing. Another infamous and misogynistic tale from the days of yore, is the story of Pandora's box, which answered the question of theodicy (why there's evil in the world). I’m not going to go into detail about this particular myth, because all of their names are super complicated, and entangled in multiple extremely complex stories. So I’m going to assume that you’re familiar with Prometheus, Zeus, Pandora and the box filled with evil and pain. (We’re talking serious drama - reality-TV wishes it had the range.) Just like the biblical story of Adam and Eve, the woman takes the blame for a man's mistake. The entire formation of Pandora (i.e women) was as a punishment for a man’s misbehavior. Even though Prometheus started it, it was ultimately Pandora who took the blame for releasing evil into the world. Moral of the story: Agony and misery were not caused by a man’s lack of controlling his anger; rather, they were caused by a woman. The patriarchal theme in this story is evident, the blame is placed on one single woman. I want to scream at the top of my lungs: Leave Pandora alone!
Rihanna was right, and this may not come as a shock to most people. This past week I’ve read several papers on patriarchal themes in ancient scriptures and revisited repressed memories of men from my past. Rihanna accurately sums up the unfair treatment women have endured for thousands of years. Whether it be for having too low a vagina, or for releasing all evil into the world. I’m planning on having RihRihs perfectly phrased tweet printed out, and put up on my wall in order to feel empowered everyday. To comfort myself with the fact that some dude, somewhere, at some point failed to unhook Rihanna's Fenty bra.