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Being Female.

Today at rehearsals, I was acting as the understudy for the main character, Espy. Espy is the wife of an abusive husband and her husband is played by a guy I had a date with (yikes). We were the only actor/actress on call and we did several exercises where he would hug me, chase me, grab me, strangle me, pick me up and toss me on the ground. I think he was getting way too into the scene. Internally, I was both terrified and enraged at how helpless my character is. I asked the director if I could fight back just enough to show him that I can. She agreed. Jokingly, I told my pretend husband that if we were in a real fight, I would kick his ass. He solemnly replied, “If I really wanted to, I could pin you down. You’re actually at my mercy.” I shivered because it was true.

Even now, my hands are shaking a little. Tonight, I realized that I try to project this tough image. I wanted to be a woman who doesn’t take shit from scary men. I believed I am physically and mentally strong. I was proud that my frame is more sturdy than dainty. I thought this is ain’t the fifties and a man can’t dictate what I do. Yet…that’s only a projection. Even when I was shoving back, it was so easy for him to take back control. I did not know what to do. I felt so weak and so insignificant. I was genuinely scared. 

I can’t take this. It really pisses me off that men will never know how vulnerable a woman feels when he “pretends” to mess with her. Like when those fucking frat boys yelling at a girl when she’s walking down the street by herself. A man is not constantly checking what he is wearing to make sure he is not “asking for it”. He does not try to avoid walking alone at night. He does not know that paralyzing fear  of realizing there is a stranger watching him. In a woman’s mind, she can see herself being raped; he cannot.

I’m sorry, I do not mean to marginalize men who have been raped or harassed. It’s just that I hate how the men that I know have the propensity to be inconsiderate toward women in this sense. A woman’s fear of being assaulted needs to be recognized as a legitimate fear. A guy should know that saying, “I could pin you down” is going to mess a girl up. This drives me toward one goal: to make men conscious of the shit they say and do. This is not a feminist rant. This is a call for battle. 

The actor playing the wife beater is actually a nice guy, believe it or not. A creepily good actor for sure, maybe too much of a freeloader, but overall a gentleman. I wondered if he was getting revenge for the crappy date we had. In any case, I called him while I was writing this and told him, “Please be careful with what you say. You’re not a woman so you’ll never truly know how scary it is when a man has complete control over you. Make sure Vanessa (the main actress) is okay after you guys do this scene.” He actually thanked me and promised he would talk to the other actress. I feel a lot better. Strong again, maybe even more so now. I know I’m not impervious to being vulnerable but I’m still a fighter. I’m going to take measures so that I won’t be crippled with fear again.

My hands have stopped shaking.  

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