last week, i went in to interview for a paid summer position at a local LGBT rights, marriage equality, and education non-profit. the interview was going great until the man stopped me mid-sentence and told me i was actually interviewing for an unpaid internship. i told him that i was already overwhelmed with volunteer work and couldn’t afford to work for free. this is absolutely true, but he continued to ask me if i could work from home—for no pay. a few days later, i received a presumptuous email asking me to volunteer at a $200 plate dinner honoring TD Bank and some straight politicians. here’s how i replied:
Dear [NAME REMOVED],As I said in my interview (which I believed in good faith was for a paid position), I’m already overwhelmed with volunteer and pro bono work.More so, I am extremely uncomfortable with a $200 dinner rewarding straight people and corporations for meeting the bare minimum of human decency. In *my* queer community, $200 is a month’s rent or a minimum student loan payment. $200 is two doses of my friend’s hormone therapy, or 1/3 of a cheap laptop to access vital resources and opportunities. It is twice what I spend on groceries in a month.My generation is so disappointed by mainstream gay rights, we can’t even care enough to be angry. There’s just no place for those of us who can’t buy a ticket.Finally, I respect that [NAME REMOVED] is a non-profit, but you should also be aware that the majority of unpaid interns are young women. Unpaid internships are the gateway to wage gap and are wholly classist, no matter the experience or networking opportunities provided. This is New York Times’ editorial commentary, not just my feminist politics.Sincerely,Maddy CourtP.S. are you aware that TD Bank finances fracking that poisons the groundwater of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world? Is Lex Luthor up for an award too?
This is one of the billion and five reasons I love Maddie. Remind me that I owe you an Anass, girl.
You want to say Hi to the cute girl on the subway. How will she react? Fortunately, I can tell you with some certainty, because she’s already sending messages to you. Looking out the window, reading a book, working on a computer, arms folded across chest, body away from you = do not disturb. So, y’know, don’t disturb her. Really. Even to say that you like her hair, shoes, or book. A compliment is not always a reason for women to smile and say thank you. You are a threat, remember? You are Schrödinger’s Rapist. Don’t assume that whatever you have to say will win her over with charm or flattery. Believe what she’s signaling, and back off.
If you speak, and she responds in a monosyllabic way without looking at you, she’s saying, “I don’t want to be rude, but please leave me alone.” You don’t know why. It could be “Please leave me alone because I am trying to memorize Beowulf.” It could be “Please leave me alone because you are a scary, scary man with breath like a water buffalo.” It could be “Please leave me alone because I am planning my assassination of a major geopolitical figure and I will have to kill you if you are able to recognize me and blow my cover.”
On the other hand, if she is turned towards you, making eye contact, and she responds in a friendly and talkative manner when you speak to her, you are getting a green light. You can continue the conversation until you start getting signals to back off.
The fourth point: If you fail to respect what women say, you label yourself a problem.
There’s a man with whom I went out on a single date—afternoon coffee, for one hour by the clock—on July 25th. In the two days after the date, he sent me about fifteen e-mails, scolding me for non-responsiveness. I e-mailed him back, saying, “Look, this is a disproportionate response to a single date. You are making me uncomfortable. Do not contact me again.” It is now October 7th. Does he still e-mail?
Yeah. He does. About every two weeks.
This man scores higher on the threat level scale than Man with the Cockroach Tattoos. (Who, after all, is guilty of nothing more than terrifying bad taste.) You see, Mr. E-mail has made it clear that he ignores what I say when he wants something from me. Now, I don’t know if he is an actual rapist, and I sincerely hope he’s not. But he is certainly Schrödinger’s Rapist, and this particular Schrödinger’s Rapist has a probability ratio greater than one in sixty. Because a man who ignores a woman’s NO in a non-sexual setting is more likely to ignore NO in a sexual setting, as well.
So if you speak to a woman who is otherwise occupied, you’re sending a subtle message. It is that your desire to interact trumps her right to be left alone. If you pursue a conversation when she’s tried to cut it off, you send a message. It is that your desire to speak trumps her right to be left alone. And each of those messages indicates that you believe your desires are a legitimate reason to override her rights.
For women, who are watching you very closely to determine how much of a threat you are, this is an important piece of data.
an excerpt from Phaedra Starling’s “Schrödinger’s Rapist: or a guy’s guide to approaching strange women without being maced” (via lostgrrrls)
HOLY FUCK THE TRUTH.
Can every one of my male followers read this? And please, before you get defensive (“I would never rape anyone!”) keep in mind, women being afraid of Shrodinger’s Rapists (oh my god i still can’t get over the encompassing brilliance of this phrase) is a conditioned, learned response from being immersed in rape culture and the evolution of sexism and sexual violence in our society from the day we’re born. And unfortunately, it’s very difficult to unlearn without the efforts of all genders to dismantle it. Which is where you come in.
Printing this out on flyers and dropping it from the sky
“So if you speak to a woman who is otherwise occupied, you’re sending a subtle message. It is that your desire to interact trumps her right to be left alone. If you pursue a conversation when she’s tried to cut it off, you send a message. It is that your desire to speak trumps her right to be left alone. And each of those messages indicates that you believe your desires are a legitimate reason to override her rights.”
If someone could scream this from the rooftops for me, I’d be most appreciative.