Thursday, March 30, 2006

A Sense of Entitlement

When I was 17 or 18 years old, shortly after I moved to Ann Arbor, I was walking around the UofM campus area near where a lot of fraternity houses are located. Some boys were sitting on a short wall that was next to the sidewalk drinking beer. They had cards with numbers on them and they were scoring all the women who walked by on a scale from 1-10. They were cheering the women to whom they gave high scores and they were booing the women to whom they gave low scores. I got a low score.
I was so young then. I didn’t really understand why it pissed me off that they were doing that. I think that if I had gotten a high score, I wouldn’t have even given the incident much thought. But that low score made me feel humiliated and ashamed. I internalized it and in a way, I carried those boys around with me for years and let them score me low every time I looked in the mirror. It took me a long time to realize that my body was not here for their entertainment. It was not there for them to score. They were not entitled to make me feel bad about myself or my body.

Over the years, there were other incidences involving frat boys or what I think of as “the frat boy type.” I don’t have time to go into them but I will just say that the one theme that is common to all of those stories is that in every one of them, the boys/men clearly felt that they were entitled to a woman’s body in some way or another. A clear sense that women were put on this earth to serve them…either as sexual objects or as servants in their homes or both.

Every so often I read a story in the paper that reminds me of how lucky I was in my encounters with that type of male because while they apparently felt entitled to a woman’s body, none of them actually took that attitude beyond the verbal. Recently some young women were not so lucky in an encounter at Duke. Those boys apparently felt that it was ok to verbally humiliate these women because of the color of their skin and because of their gender. And then three of them apparently decided that their entitlement to these women’s bodies gave them the right to rape them. It sickens me that this kind of thing still happens. That there are men in our culture who still feel it is ok to do this kind of thing.

There is some hope though. A couple of weeks ago, I read one of the best blog posts I have ever read over on One Good Thing. It is a letter from a mother to her two young sons. Click HERE to read it.

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