Photo By: Ashlee Pryor
Written By: Preston Yancey
You tell me the story, casually. You’re sharing about the man you disagree with, how he rolled down the window and called out to a random woman on the street. You tell me how his own wife rolled her eyes and thought it was amusing. She’s used to it, so she excuses it.
You tell me about trying to get the window up in time, about how you scolded him, about how you hated him for it, about how he’s just that way, though, how in his mind it doesn’t mean anything and he would have been just as likely to do it to any gender, any color, any person.
But you share the other thing he said, after you scolded him, about how it gave her a thrill when he did it. That she liked it.
And I stare at you, mouth half-agape, because I don’t know what to say.
I fluster. I say flipity-flip instead of the f-word, which is what I’m thinking. I stand holding the bowl and nearly let it drop to the floor, because the man you have told me about claims to be a Christian. And sure, we all have our crap, but this is that special kind.
I seethe. I talk about how there is nothing in the Bible that makes this alright, that Jesus, Paul, Peter, James, Andrew, none of them would have ever done such a thing. You agree, but you agree in the detached way, in the way that says I’m right but the guy just wouldn’t understand that, even though you’ve tried so many times in the past to make him understand.
But I’m still thrown, still unable to think without a profanity dropping into the thoughts.
Later, I stand in the doorway and tell you, simply, why it bothers me so much. It was one thing to cat call, one thing that his wife only rolled her eyes, but it’s the something else that he said: She enjoyed it.
That’s what rapists say. I tell you.
And you throw up your hands, telling me to hold on, and I put my own hands up and try to calm the waters. I tell you I don’t think the man who said it, at all, in any way, is a rapist. I say that he’s nowhere close to being one, but that the reason it triggered such a response in me is because those are the words rapists use. It’s OK to do, because the girl secretly likes it.
And I’m telling you now, because I couldn’t quite tell you then, I will raise hell.
When that sort of thing happens, I will raise hell. I wouldn’t have been able to just scold him. I wouldn’t have been able to just mention it. I would have stopped the car and lectured him first and then his wife. And sure, that might not be the gracious thing, it might not be the gentle thing, but I don’t have much patience for this.
Three women in my life. Three young women. I have known each closely. Well. I have known in my life, already, three women who have been raped.
I held hands with one the day after she aborted the child who was the product of the assault.
That was the gracious thing. I didn’t agree with her. But we were under the tables in the cafetorium while something from Pink played and she cried about how cold it had all been and I said nothing because I didn’t know what to do. I still don’t.
But I know this.
I will raise hell.
Because in my context, the sliding scale between a catcall and rape is narrowed when, “She likes it,” is the justification.
When something like a joking catcall flies from a window, when the c-word gets dropped, when a woman in a room is made to feel inferior to a man because he’s allegedly more human than she is, less of an object than she is, I will raise hell.
(To a point. I’m no white knight. She has power, too. She has the right to defend herself. She has the right to say who she is. I can’t give that to her.)
Because I think that’s what Jesus, Paul, Peter, James, Andrew, and the rest of them would have done.