The (silent) Feminist at a Party

By Maddie Granato, Age 23

I want to talk about men who think it’s even remotely acceptable to call a woman a bitch. Or a slut. Or a whore. Specifically, I want to talk about one man I met this past weekend who somehow thought it was okay to repeatedly say these words loud and clear, in the middle of a party where he knew no one except the friend he spent the night openly degrading – insulting her so freely and confidently it was as if he assumed other women in the room were as at ease with his word vomit as he was.

I wasn’t at ease. In fact, it ruined my night. I want to talk about his idiocy, but I also want to talk about my own failures in hearing his words so loudly and not offering even the slightest eye roll to display my disapproval. I chose not to speak up and gave into my constant fear of being rude. (note: he was the one yelling profanities all night and I thought it’d be insulting of me to call him out. Insert eye roll.)

I have yet to master the art of the poker face, so when a friend asked me privately why I was having such an issue, I answered honestly.

“Well he’s not calling you those things,” my friend responded.

No, just demeaning and marginalizing my entire gender.

“You don’t know their relationship – they’re like brother and sister.”

LIKE THAT MAKES IT OKAY????

“Please don’t say something and make it awkward.”

Fine, I won’t. *Sips drink*.

It’s a waste of a decent blog post to spend multiple paragraphs insulting this man, who I hardly know and will probably never see again. I could also ramble for hours delving into the gritty details of why exactly these words are so harmful to women. What I really want to talk about is why I didn’t say anything – why we are so often silenced by our peers even in times when SOMEONE, anyone, should be voicing unwavering disapproval.

Bitch isn’t the worst word on the planet and is not nearly the most horrifying bigotry any of us will face this week (see: Donald Trump’s latest), but in the context of my Saturday night, in a room full of new people, used with as much ferociousness and as such a blatant jab at his friend’s identity as a young woman, its usage deserved a response.

Sometimes, we need to speak up. We need to say something, to voice our disapproval and disgust. We need to make things awkward; to ruin the mood, to ignore dismissive pleas to just relax and other patronizing requests to take a joke.

By my staying silent, I made it okay for this man to continue to degrade women even when he woke up sober the next morning; prioritizing the preservation of our “good time” over the blatant misogyny of one of our guests.

Most of all, I reaffirmed to the woman he berated that she should continue to allow his disrespect – that because they’re good friends, it’s totally acceptable for him to openly degrade her.

I didn’t have to be loud and aggressive. I didn’t have to threaten his manhood (gasp!), kick him out of the party (I thought about it), or even raise my voice. But I could have said something and I very well should have, even at the risk of being impolite or that person who always has to be politically correct.

Next time – which will probably be today, tomorrow and/or this weekend because misogynists are LITERALLY EVERYWHERE (!!!) – I hope I will.

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Young Women Rising encourages Connecticut women ages 18-35 to raise their voices about issues they care about. Each writer speaks for herself as an individual and Young Women Rising as a whole does not intend to endorse the views of any particular writer. If you’re interested in submitting a guest piece please contact us at Michelle.Noehren@cga.ct.gov.

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