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Throwback Thursday: Tell Me How I Should Feel

This post was original shared on June 28th, 2011. Sad that it is still relevant, but it is a lovely post that I’m proud of past Amy for having written. It reminds me of something that would be read at a poetry slam.

It was my response to the early phase of the online harassment that we had begun to see ramp up, when we dared to speak up about the sexism we were seeing and experiencing in the skeptic movement. Looking back, it was probably my initial response to an avalanche of “mansplaining.”  A word I didn’t even know the definition of at the time.

Ah, live and learn.

At any rate, I took the anger that was being directed at me online and stood strong. And I’m still standing today. Enjoy.


Amy Roth And James Randi Painting

There has been quite a bit of talk about sexism and feminist issues and topics surrounding rape and topics like male white privilege on this blog lately. And every single time we write one of these posts or mention something related to them on Facebook someone has to come in and tell us how we are completely wrong and how we should actually feel about the situation. I am sure that the majority of the people who tell us we are completely wrong and should not for a moment ever feel this way, are in fact men, is just a coincidence.

So here ya go.

Here is your chance to tell me how I should feel on a variety of topics.

Have at it.

How should I feel when walking home to my apartment in a city at night alone?

How should I feel when a car pulls up beside my car and honks and the man driving the other car is jacking off?

How should I feel when I catch a neighbor peeking in my window?

How should I feel about online stalkers who threaten to kill me?

How should I feel about men who whistle at me or tell me to smile while I am walking to the pharmacy to pick up asthma medicine?

How should I feel about what I am wearing? Should I feel differently if my skirt is short or long or if I am in pants?

How should I feel about the size of my breasts? And is it relevant to how I should be treated?

How should I feel about my weight?

How should I feel about my age?

How should I feel when I am asked out on a date even though I am clearly wearing a wedding ring?

How should I feel when I am called a bitch for turning down an offer for a date?

How should I feel when I am called a bitch for speaking my mind?

How should I feel when I am followed by a group of men I do not know down a side street?

How should I feel when when I am called a slut for showing “too much” skin?

How should I feel when I am told that I’m not dressed sexy enough?

How should I feel about being told that I am not pretty enough?

How should I feel about being physically forced to give a man a blow job?

How should I feel about having a gun held to my head?

How should I feel about being tied up with duct tape?

How should I feel about the potential for being raped?

How should I feel about being groped by strangers?

How should I feel about the fact that I carry pepper spray and lace my keys in my fist when I walk alone?

How should I feel about being told that I am “paranoid” or a “man-hater” because I err on the side of caution when I leave the house?

How should I feel about being told that I am not as sexually evolved as other women because I point out instances of sexism?

How should I feel about making less money than a man who does the same job?

How should I feel about people who say, “oh, that’s too bad” when I say I don’t have children?

How should I feel about people acting confused and scowling when I must explain that I didn’t change my name when I got married?

How should I feel about people saying I am cliquey because I write for a blog with other women?

How should I feel about being outnumbered by men at most skeptic, tech and science events?

How should I feel about being a woman?

Amy Roth

Amy Davis Roth (aka Surly Amy) is a multimedia, science-loving artist who resides in Los Angeles, California. She makes Surly-Ramics and is currently in love with pottery. Daily maker of art and leader of Mad Art Lab. Support her on Patreon. Tip Jar is here.

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  1. I just an average white dude. I’m not self hating but, it’s damn frustrating that so many guys do these things and so many women put up with it.

    1. I believe you mean it’s damn frustrating that so many MEN put up with it. It’s on us to talk to men. We come from the place of privilege, we are the ones who can challenge it. Women need to do what they need to to survive, and we should not question their choices publicly. If you have a specific woman you want to help, do that, but don’t talk about how it frustrates you that women who have been socialized and beaten into submission are submissive. Instead attack those beating them down, driving them back into the space that they have designated for them.

      We are men, it is our responsibility to fix men’s behavior, not women’s.

    1. They absolutely aren’t. However, men are not typically instructed in how they should feel about these things by other people. The point is that women are told (by men and also by other women) what the acceptable answers are to these questions, and harassed if they don’t comply.

      I mean, we saw that not long ago on Rebecca’s post about street harassment:

      Look at the comments, and how a couple of folks swoop in to question the legitimacy of Rebecca’s feelings, and instruct her in how she ought to feel about this kind of thing.

    2. *splaining, if you will, is something any underclass has to deal with from the overclass. Basically it’s “I’m a man/white/straight/cis/whatever. Your argument is invalid.” For infinity million bonus points, drop the names of some random logical fallacies that don’t really apply, e.g. “Your assertion that you were raped is an appeal to pity.”, “You said he was a sexist; that’s an ad hominem.” (And of course, forget the fallacy fallacy.)

      It invalidates the other person’s own experiences, while the speaker convinces himself that his experience is objective.

  2. Thank you Amy for posting this. This topic has really hit home for me in the last few weeks… I don’t think people know how many women hide in the shadows out of fear. I am tired of being told how to feel, that my feelings are wrong, or that I’m just being overly sensitive. There comes a time when you have to stop and think, it’s not my problem it’s theirs. It’s a hard step to take when you’re being told things like, “you dress conservatively” and start feeling like it’s a bad thing, and somehow that makes you not good enough for them. Yet they don’t bother to think about or ask why. Maybe they have a reason for not wanting to look “sexy.” I had a family member recently post a meme with an obese woman that read, “tag someone who would tap that,” and the comments made me sick. I have never seen a photo of an obese man that asks, “tag someone who wants to be tapped by that.”

  3. I think I can speak for all us men in saying we all need to read this.

    Empathy. It’s not just a suggestion, it is a life skill.

    Great poem and it evokes that all-too-lacking empathy and critical thinking absent in our culture.

    Yes, how would we feel given the same situation? Given the statistics?

    Puts everything in perspective.

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