happy-woman-with-beautiful-smile-253486 • Lilia Tarawa

Men claim that when a woman doesn’t want to date men, she “hates men.” But a person doesn’t date everyone they don’t hate. You would have to date so many people!

After spending high school and college believing that I would “hurt a guy’s feelings” if I ever declined to give him my phone number, go on a date, or have sex with him, I finally established some boundaries. I don’t have to date someone if I don’t want to. I don’t have to have sex if I don’t want to. It’s my body. It’s my space. Just as sex with the wrong person can make you feel like your body has been violated, a relationship with the wrong person can make you feel like your emotions have been violated.

We do not demand that every Black person date a white person, for example. If a Black person does not want to date any white people, (most of us) white people can imagine why they might feel that way, and don’t go and argue with them about it. But women are made to feel that we are REQUIRED to date men. We HAVE to. Otherwise we are “man haters.” For women, we have to give our bodies, our hearts, and decades of our lives to prove that we aren’t bigots. Even if we are respectful and kind to our male coworkers. Even if we have platonic male friends. It’s a preposterous proposition.

But what about the survival of the species? you might ask. To which I say, the onus is on men. Don’t force us to have sex to keep the species going. Don’t force us to carry a pregnancy to term to keep the species going. Don’t force us to withdraw from our professions to give the species going. Respect us to keep the species going. Raise children as much as we do. The oppression of women doesn’t make the world go ’round, it makes the world go down.

There is also nothing inherently wrong with having and raising children outside of a romantic union. A society where it is difficult to raise children without engaging in the legal procedure of marriage is oppressive. That any two people are legally permitted to marry does not change this. The ability for a person of any gender and sexual orientation to comfortably have children and not be in a relationship if they don’t want to be (or if it doesn’t work out) is an important thing to strive for.

The supposed “man hatred” isn’t prejudicial in the way misogyny is and has always been. We’re hurt and we’re afraid. If you are honestly emotionally wounded about women “hating” you, and you’re not just saying it to harass women and censor women’s voices online, show us that we can trust you. Do the judicial, legislative, and cultural work so that the percentage of women who are raped by men is no greater than the percentage of men who are raped by women — so that men don’t feel entitled to sex and don’t fetishize rape, so that women are believed, and so that all rapists receive a criminal record and prison time. So that the statistics are that 50% of stay-at-home parents are men. Stop arguing if we say we don’t want to have sex. Stop following us home. Stop using degrading slang against us.

If you’re a nice guy who hasn’t done anything sexist, women still don’t owe you dating or sex. A woman saying no to sex with a man is not rude in the way that someone you know not saying “hi” back when you say “hi” to them is rude. Get back to me when, every time a man steps outside in an urban area, he can expect to be yelled at incessantly by women he doesn’t know on every block.

If all men have is, “We’ll say EVEN more disrespecful things to women if they won’t have sex with us,” that is not going to keep us down or make us come back.

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