Growing up I had more male friends than female friends. I was more likely to be found within a group of men than women, I'd laugh along with these 'man' jokes. I'd profess that I didn't have friendships with women because 'they were full of drama and gossip'. It makes me cringe now, and it makes me feel sick.
I mentioned, here, that I'd dealt with men in many shapes and forms, and that the man I lost my virginity too justified using me for sex because I was leaning on him emotionally. That was over ten years ago now, and a year or two ago, this individual sent me a message via facebook to apologise for the way he treated me.
Like many apologies we're seeing from entitled men the apology was all about him. He reached out, after ten years because he felt guilty. He needed to let me know he was sorry, he wanted absolution from me. I replied, and I replied politely, leaving out that I was angered he dared to bring up an event I rarely thought about purely because he wanted his guilt absolved by me.
I believe now that if he feels guilty, that has nothing to do with me anymore.
That this man, and a few others, have come out of the woodwork to apologise shows that they are still entitled pieces of shit. At no point have they wondered how I felt being disturbed in my usual day to day with an intrusion from them, or worse, they have decided that I am still thinking about this event that they feel the need to apologise for. The arrogance of it is astounding.
The truth is, I chalked up a lot of this being treated like shit by men as the standard. I was female, it was expected I'd have experiences like this, so many of my female friends had experiences of being treated badly by men, so why would I be any different?
I don't need my Sunday afternoons interrupted by hollow words, thank you.
Now I have many female friends, I am disheartened by the stories we have. I see women in relationships and I can't understand why they put up with the contempt and the bullshit from men. I feel sad when these women tell me "but he says loves me", as if that makes everything ok.
I hear about men that are regularly having sex with two women, telling the one he isn't in a relationship with that the other is the one he wants. When I hear these stories about these men, it's never the first time they've treated two women like crap at the same time. I hear about men that treat their partners like shit but then make up for it with chocolates, flowers, to only repeat the same bad behaviour a week later.
I see these women putting up with this shit from men and I want to shake them. I want to tell them that this doesn't have to be their story and they do deserve better. I have been the woman cheated on, and the woman the man cheated with. Neither is a particularly appealing situation and I now know better. I know now that I deserve better.
I also know from experience that that belief you deserve better has to come from inside.
Society encourages women to judge their worth against men. We are pitted against each other in an arbitrary battle of the 'hottest'. We're sold poor excuses for romance through stories and films of men that are not worth our time or effort. The notion that if a man treats you badly, it must mean he really likes you makes me feel so sick.
I'm grateful for my female friends, we are sisters, we are allies, we have a strength unrivalled. I take inspiration from women that have, that are, that will take the world by storm. These women I have so much in common with. And although I am sad that the commonality between myself and the woman next to me is men that are dickheads, it is a foundation from which we can learn and grow with support from each other.