I am an exhausted feminist

I am exhausted.
I am exhausted of hearing so many accusations of sexual assault.
I am exhausted of needing to relive the worst moments of my life for the #MeToo campaign just so that men believe this is an epidemic.
I am exhausted of men judging us for having kept silent about sexual harassment for so long.
I am exhausted of men questioning my experience as a woman.
I am exhausted of women questioning my experience as a woman.
I am exhausted. Aren’t you?

Someone once said to me, ‘Behind every woke man stands an exhausted women’ and that is so true. We work so hard to show men how difficult it is to be a woman. When a man then – finally – gets it, he is praised for his wokeness, but the woman behind him, who tirelessly showed him again and again why women should be treated better, is ignored.

It is fantastic that we talk about rape culture right now. It is great to see so many women come forward with their stories. But it is also extremely triggering. At work, a couple of my colleagues (men and women) discussed the sexual allegations against Harvey Weinstein. The prevailing comment I heard was, ‘Why did they wait so long to come forward?’ And then, in the same breath, ‘Well, these women got a good career out of sleeping with Weinstein, so they must have had questionable morals.’

It is exhausting to explain the same thing over and over again. No, the women who felt they had no choice but to sleep with Weinstein do not have questionable morals. The women who were sexually assaulted, raped, by Weinstein, are not sluts or whores. I shouldn’t need to explain how bad slut shaming is. Yes, the women who walked away from Weinstein – and a career – are also victims in here, but let’s not be judgemental. This victim blaming is exactly why women stay silent so many times and for so long.

I started this blog because I wanted a place where I could openly talk about sex, and in particular about my own sexual experiences. Then I got involved in the #iTalkSex campaign and my focus shifted a bit more towards female sexual empowerment. Which I am still very passionate about. But it is hard sometimes these days to keep writing positively about female sexuality. Some days it feels that no matter what I say, no matter what I write, it is not going to make a difference. If even my female colleagues, friends, don’t see anything wrong with a man sexually harassing a woman, is there even hope?

The #MeToo campaign was powerful. It shows that we are not going to be silent any longer, we will not shut up. But will it be enough? And if not, then what will it take to make a real change in society? In talking to some of my male friends, I have noticed that they still believe that sexual harassment is only perpetrated by really bad men. That their own male friends would not be capable of such heinous acts. It is this type of thinking that is so exhausting – and damaging. If men don’t see how prevailing rape culture is, then we don’t stand a chance to change it.

Why is it that society will not believe us? Coming forward about sexual assault is terrifying. Your whole life will be scrutinised, and most of the time no one believes you. Why is it that society still thinks we must be making it up? We should not have to start a #MeToo campaign. We should be taken at our word. But 20 women have accused Donald Trump of sexual assault, yet a great percentage of the American population believes they must all be lying. We have been living in a misogynistic society for so long, it is ingrained in us. But we need this change, we can’t keep going on like this.

I am exhausted. I feel my emotional energy draining away each day, faster than I can replenish it. I have less and less tolerance for anyone who does not take sexual assault seriously. I have no time for anyone who demands proof and justification for how I feel in a particular situation. I demand to be taken seriously.

I am also hopeful though. I am hopeful that this wave of outrage will make a change to the toxic masculine culture we live in. I hope that we will teach our young men, our boys, to be respectful to women. I hope that we set an example for our young women, our girls, that they do not have to put up with sexual harassment. I hope to live long enough to see a society in which rape is viewed and punished as the horrific crime it is.

2 thoughts on “I am an exhausted feminist”

  1. I have been feeling like this a lot recently, so I hear you! I work for a domestic abuse charity in my day job and just feel like I’m surrounded by awful stories and nothing is getting better. I didn’t go to Reclaim the night and I’m not actively doing anything outside of work to help the cause as I’m knackered. I think it’s totally OK to not be OK. It’s shit that this is still going on and people just don’t get it. Just look after yourself and you’ll find that despair comes back as passion and anger, so it’ll get you going again. Feminist love to you! x

    1. Isabelle Lauren

      Thank you for your words. It must be SO difficult to work for a domestic abuse charity, I can imagine you can’t do anything else outside it. It is all exhausting, but you are right: anger and passion will follow and I will have to seize on that. Hugs to you.

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