I don’t ever want to be vulnerable purely because I’m a woman. I understand life has its moments, and leaning in to vulnerability – when you’re with friends and loved ones – can be a valuable thing to do. Let people in, get closer, see their vulnerabilities too and nurture them through hard times. But broadly, I don’t want to be vulnerable. I go through life doing powerful things, and rejecting vulnerability because I don’t want to feel weak. Unfortunately, the world is peppered with men who want to remind women just how vulnerable we are.
Recently, as previously mentioned, I’ve had to get rid of a lot of stuff. I had spreadsheets of which friends were coming to get which thing, on which day, and the stuff my mates didn’t want all got put on Gumtree or Freecycle. I measured everything, took photos, put adverts up, and people started to get in touch.
One guy phoned to ask some questions about something on offer, but sadly it had already gone. That phone call was fine. The second one wasn’t.
The second call came from a man who asked some serious questions about a sofa I was selling (not the sofa that launched a thousand fucks, a far more wholesome one). What was the fabric like? Did it have any damage? And then… how big was it? Did I reckon I could lie full-length on it while he sat on me till I couldn’t breathe?
Women, remember! You are vulnerable!
I hate this bullshit. I hate it because some entitled prick thought he’d spend a Friday night randomly harassing a woman purely because he could phone her. That he thought that was a good use of his time. That he believed that was funny. But most of all I hate the fact that it reminded me I am vulnerable.
I don’t want to be vulnerable. Don’t want to have to make special accommodation because I’m a woman. After that call, I unticked the box on the Gumtree ad which said ‘allow people to contact me by phone’, and made sure to arrange any and all collections for when my best friend – a man – would be here with me. It makes the whole ‘selling shit’ thing extra complicated, and means I probably won’t be able to sell everything I need to – there’s only so much time he can spend here, after all, because at some point he has to go to work.
That guy thought he was making a hilarious joke, presumably for an audience of… just himself. But what he actually did – what all these fuckers actually do when they think they’re being funny – is give women a little reminder that we’re vulnerable. That we have to make special accommodations to make sure we don’t get raped/assaulted/harassed/killed, even if what we’re trying to do is something as simple as flogging an old sofa.
And yeah, I shouldn’t have ticked the box that let people contact me by phone. That was what I kicked myself for initially. But weirdly, there wasn’t a prompt before that box which said ‘be aware if you tick this men might call you at 10pm on a Saturday night to get their rocks off by making you feel scared’. And so it just didn’t occur to me.
The thing people don’t realise about victim blaming (why was she wearing that? Why was she walking there? Why was she letting strange men come to her house to pick up sofas?) is that sometimes, as a woman, you forget. You forget how vulnerable you are to dangerous men. You let yourself steam through life powerfully. You allow yourself to exist as if you weren’t going to be harassed at any moment. You lull yourself into a false sense of security, believing that you get to move about the world like a normal person.
Like a man.
You might get a few weeks of this life, or a few months or years if you’re lucky. But there’s always a guy somewhere just waiting to remind you that you are not a ‘normal person’. You don’t get to have this kind of life.
You’re vulnerable. You forgot. You stupid fucking bitch.