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*Seuxal Assualt Trigger Warning: This article contains descriptions of sexual assault which may be triggering.

From a young age I would hear (cis) men label Feminism as “man-hating.” This sentiment is an example of men dismissing women who procure change because they are unsatisfied with their unsatisfactory social condition. Because men are wholly incapable of accepting their privilege, handling criticism, or developing on a personal and social level, they reduce women to emotional blobs of irrationality who are simply envious of and frustrated by their God-given superiority. I’m here to reassure you that not all feminists hate men. In fact, most of them don’t. Feminism isn’t about men. I, however, am a feminist who hates men.

It all started when I was at one of my best friend’s houses in 2014. I may have had a crush on him at some point the year before, but he was also very religious and kind of an asshole. Nothing had ever happened between us. We were studying for our history exam, sitting next to each other in front of the desk in his room. He put his hand on my thigh, I pushed it off. He placed it back on.

“We don’t have to do anything,” he said, before leaning forward and kissing my neck. A contradiction, if I’d ever seen one. 

“Good, because I really don’t want to. You’re one of my closest friends. Can we just get back to our notes?” I pushed him away.

He placed his hand on my thigh again, more firmly this time, and higher up. At this point, I was shuffling through everything I had said and done in the last few weeks in my mind. Had I led him on? As I sat there, staring at the wooden cross on the wall in front of his desk, he turned my face toward him, lifting me off my chair and onto his bed. (Yes, it was as awkward as it sounds.)

“I don’t like you like that. I like [that jackass I later dated for almost two years].” 

“I don’t like you either,” he said, kissing my neck again. I went stiff as I tried to think of something else to say. Why did I have to repeatedly convince this man to respect my physical integrity and personal boundaries? And why did I feel… guilty about it? After a few excruciating moments, I pushed him away more forcefully. 

“I need to go to the bathroom,” I said abruptly.

I called my dad and asked him to pick me up. In the car he asked me if I’d had a good time. I said “It was fine,” because “No, I think I was just assaulted” didn’t have quite the same ring to it. 

The next day at school I switched seats. I didn’t feel comfortable sitting with him in History class anymore. During fourth period, he asked me why I wasn’t in my usual seat for the second time that day. I said he knew why. During P.E., I told a couple of my friends what had happened. They were dismissive, and even laughed at the thought of [retracted] sexually assaulting someone. Days went by and I started to second guess myself. Maybe I had judged him too harshly. It’s not like he’d raped me or anything. When he saved me a seat in History class the following week, I tentatively rested my notebook next to his on the desk and sat down. I felt ashamed and humiliated — had I misunderstood? Or made it all up in my head? I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt.

This was the first in a series of traumas the men who have slithered into my life, posing as friends, lovers, or harmless acquaintances have caused me. My first boyfriend pressured me into having sex with him, forcefully kicking his bedframe when I said I wanted to stop because he was hurting me. He threw his phone at me when I told him about my childhood crush, and grabbed my arm until it bruised during an argument at the mall. I wasn’t allowed to have male friends or go out to parties without him. After we broke up, he hacked into my facebook and messaged me through my own account, calling me a slut for kissing another guy weeks after we broke up. And to think that women are still the ones being labelled “unstable”. During my graduation trip, a boy in my class sexually assaulted me in my own bed when I was half asleep on anxiety medication. Most of the people I told – especially other men – brushed it off. I couldn’t touch anyone for months after that. 

I’ve been cornered at parties, spoken over in professional and academic environments, and emotionally manipulated. Frankly, I’m sick of men. They’ve had 21 years to prove me wrong, and all I’ve ever gotten from giving them the benefit of the doubt is bitter disappointment. I resent the fact that I am sexually attracted to men, because it means I have to interact with them. I resent their mediocre or non-existent attempts at self-actualization, I resent their entitlement to sexual interactions, and I resent how out of touch they are with their emotions and the emotions of those around them. I can no longer excuse their contributions to toxic heteronormativity, sexism, and the commodification of women. Men have failed us as a society. Men colonized, raped and destroyed our natural resources. And before anyone says it, you’re right. Not all men. But most men. The great majority of men. Too many men – and so I refuse to give them the benefit of the doubt. If you are not against the system, you are the system. The silence of men in the face of injustice towards women and the LGBTQIA+ community is deafening. Men: As long as you continue to uphold the institutions that oppress me, you are guilty until proven innocent. As long as most of the men I meet continue to view me as a sexual object, I refuse to be a beacon of passive understanding, lighting the way for further abuse. I do not forgive and will not forget all that men have put me through, because they have not given me a reason to. Not all feminists hate men — but I do. 

Gabriela Jatene

Columbia Barnard '22

Gabriela Jatene is a dog mom and senior at Barnard College, studying History and English. Contact her about her articles or fear of crickets at gsj2106@barnard.edu
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