I’m not concerned with how that sounds. I’m comfortable enough in my own skin where society’s negative view of a man being moved to tears is a pebble being thrown against the mountain which is ME. But this is something that is powerful enough that I’m not ashamed to admit being nearly brought to tears. Let me explain why.
First, I’ll preface this by saying that yes, some women lie about rape and no, it’s not ALL men. Also, I know that rape can happen to men as well. Now that that’s out of the way, those of you men whining about that can shut up.
The reason this nearly brings me to tears has nothing to do with being weak. It’s not because it happened to anyone in my family. It’s because of doing something I’m sure many men haven’t done. I sat down and really tried as best as I could to look at this from a woman’s point of view. I shut my mouth, took my own feelings out of the equation and tried to imagine what this is about.
Rape and other forms of sexual assault against women is just a very disgusting, sickening thing to think about. There are men out there who feel it’s appropriate to put their hands on a woman in any way they please, as they hide behind the things women do, such as dressing a certain way, being out late sat night and host of other reasons.
Here is the reason I’m almost to tears when thinking about this. Women have to do SO MUCH to protect themselves against us. What are they protecting themselves against us doing? Putting our hands on them. Forcing sex upon them. Attacking them. Hurting them. Killing them.
Right now, it’s night time in Afghanistan. It will be close to 10 p.m. when I leave the computer room (the MWR, for my military folks). I only have a short distance to walk to get my sleeping area, but if I encounter any women on the way, I will move as far as I can away from her. It’s not because I’M afraid of anything. It’s because I don’t know if she’s looking at me and on guard in case I want to attack her. It’s because I don’t know if maybe she has been raped and is frightened that it could happen again. It’s because I’m thinking about the ordeal and the horror that goes through a woman’s mind as rape is taking place.
I’d like to think I’m a very friendly person. I didn’t always do this, but now when I walk by people, I speak. When I walk by a woman and want to speak, but she looks down, I don’t force it. I wonder if maybe she’s just shy. Maybe she just doesn’t want to speak. All that could be true. But I also wonder if she’s become so terrified of men that she can barely stand to look at me, even for that second I’m saying hello. As unfair as that is to me, I do not blame her for this.
Some of you reading this may say that that’s just ridiculous and a lot of paranoia going on. Let me tell you why that isn’t the case.
“…if she’s become so terrified of men that she can barely stand to look at me…” A lot of women have been raped as little girls by either their fathers or other trusted male family members. These men are the standard to which this young girl or woman will measure every other man, especially their fathers. We as fathers have NO idea how strong of an influence we have on our daughters and it is NOT something to be taken lightly. When these women trust someone and that trust was destroyed, this is what they believe to be what men are about. Gaining your trust just to destroy it. They don’t want to go through this. Yes, this may be unfair to those of us who haven’t done anything wrong, but guess what, men? Our feelings don’t matter here. In this case, their feelings trump ours, period.
Now I can imagine I haven’t even scratched the surface of what a woman has to go through on a daily basis. I haven’t come close. But it’s that look a woman gives me when I simply want to say hello. It’s that look in her eyes that make me wonder if she’s thinking, “Hello,” or “Please stop looking at me.” Even for that second I do so long enough to speak. It’s often the latter that I think of, and it’s truly heartbreaking that a woman has to live like that. I’m not exaggerating that at all. My heart truly breaks to know that a woman can look at me and because of what some asshole did to her, she’s now terrified of me because I’m a man. I’m not happy about it, but she is NOT the one I blame for that.
I think about the most important women in my life. My wife, my daughter, my mother and my two sisters. I imagine this happening to them. I wonder if this HAS happened to some of them and they’ve just kept quiet about it. What hurts the most is that NONE of them are in position where they are totally safe from this. Age does not matter. My mother will be 57 in a few weeks and my daughter is 6. I would like to think that would make a difference, but it doesn’t. Even worse is that I’m here in Afghanistan, thousands of miles away from all of them.
I believe that we all either know someone who has been raped or very unfortunately, have been raped ourselves. There shouldn’t be a person out there who doesn’t know what this means. This is has touched every last one of us in some way. My crazy way of thinking says that we are all connected in that way and that’s the reason we all should care. But I did say that was my “crazy” way of thinking, didn’t I?
So there they are. Those are just a few of the reasons as to why this has nearly brought me to tears. Again, I’m not concerned about the small-minded folks who see that as a sign of weakness. My concern is more to those women who have to live EVERY SINGLE DAY with SOME level of fear from us. The mere thought of a woman looking at me and being terrified just because I’m a man, all because some sorry excuse for a human being chose to rape her; that makes me want to cry like a baby. Yes, that’s as an almost 35-year-old man.
As I said, feel free to laugh all you want. Whatever embarrassment is desired STILL does not come close to comparing to the horror that in many cases, is a woman’s everyday life.
Now that I’m finished this, I can go on and take “Almost” out of the title.