So there we were, in Union Square, taking patriarchy by storm. We had the Bootprints display, as well as the Warzone banner (see previous posts below), and were attracting a crowd. We took turns shouting out our Call to Action (see above under “call”), and many people who find this sick society intolerable were engaging us, giving donations, adding their stories, and signing up to our list. Then, along comes this guy…
He is carrying this sign and yelling at us from a distance. I approach. He says:
“You people have nothing new to say. If it were up to people like you, only rich guys would ever have sex.”
This was intriguing. I said to him:
“We don’t think people or sex should be exchanged for money at all. You don’t know anything about us. Do you want to?”
Him: “Oh yes I do. I know. You people are all the same. If you really want to end porn, you should just have sex with anyone, people like me, in public. You don’t give it up for free so we need porn. There, I won. You don’t have anything to say to that.”
And he proceeded to walk away. This was not acceptable. I shouted after him:
“Wait a second, get back here! You don’t get to do that! Just say you won and walk away! Get back here and give your shitty argument!”
Him: “I don’t have any money, and porn gives me women’s bodies for free. I have the right to access that. You guys are with the ruling class. You get rid of porn and they’re the only ones that can get any.”
Me: “Really?!? Did you just say you have the right to access women’s bodies?! Women are HUMAN BEINGS. Trading money for sex is part of the problem. Have you ever had a mutually respectful relationship with a woman?”
Him: “I don’t want one. I just want free sex.”
And immediately after saying that he walked away again, shouting over his shoulder:
“See? You have nothing to say” and then to someone standing nearby “See? I won.”
That is when I sort of lost my shit. I screamed at him:
“NO, you sick fuck! You don’t get to do that! You don’t get to spew your sick shit and run away all smug declaring victory! You’re a fucking tool! Get the fuck back here! I’m not done with you yet! So get back here, stand right fucking there, and deal with what I have to say, or FUCK OFF out of here!”
He did, in fact, fuck off, instead of running to the outskirts of the crowd (many of which, by the way, were WOMEN, giving their traumatic stories about people like HIM) and spreading poisonous bullshit, which is what he had been trying to do. I took a deep breath, looked around, and was immediately struck with the number of people that had collected, and how they were all smiling at me.
Then I heard a quiet voice behind me.
I turned around, and there was a young man, looking very serious. He said:
“It’s like that guy has a cancer. You’re not going to get through to him. He is so brainwashed and so deeply perverted, it’s almost like yelling at a cancer patient for having cancer.”
I said, “I know what you mean, man. It’s not really about him. I think this society creates a culture that creates rapists, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to avoid calling out and cussing out people like him. Other people, who are outraged by this shit, need to see people like him challenged, and driven out.”
He smiled hugely. He said, “Yeah, I think you were right to do that, I just wasn’t sure if you were trying to convince him of something.” Then his face darkened and his smile disappeared. He continued, ”That guy is here every single day. He takes pictures of women without their permission, and then sells them. He asks little girls to stick their butts in men’s faces so he can photograph them. I always try to run him off but it takes everything in me to not kill him where he stands. And meanwhile I’ve never seen anyone else do anything about him.” Then I understood all the smiling faces I saw at the end of that interaction. That sick fuck has probably harassed all of them, or been the source of turmoil when people have seen him harassing others on a daily basis.
We talked for awhile, about this system and what it does to people, and how we are here to fight this bullshit on the largest levels, and win. Even though others were breaking down our displays and packing up to leave, and our “spectacle” was going away, a woman heard our conversation and wanted to be a part of it. I don’t think she was even there when the pervert was declaring his own superior intelligence in his rapist-level entitlement, but overheard this young man passionately telling me about how he fears for the future, and for his son, in a society where porn is becoming increasingly normalized and at the same time, increasingly violent. Both this serious young man, and the young woman who came into that conversation, are joining our movement in different capacities.
This was all very encouraging! I will end with two points:
1. The people who take it upon themselves to adamantly advocate for the war on women, the commodification of women’s bodies, and the objectification of half of humanity, should be given space to be heard, to sharpen the dividing lines; this way people can clearly see what the sides are, what’s at stake, and who is on which side, so they can better choose which side they are on.
2. We all (including me) need to “lose our shit” like this WAY more often. And in public. It raises people’s spirits, gives them a sense of what is possible, inspires them to do the same, and sends the message to those who would harm, degrade, and humiliate women, that this WILL NOT STAND. I don’t think that guy was very used to a woman telling him he was not allowed to leave, and must return to face her fury.
If you are challenged or inspired by this story, get involved! Give a donation! Come into the streets with us! Be a part of a movement that does not tolerate things as they are, and fights for a radically different, and far better world. STOP PATRIARCHY!