Sexism, Power and Entitlement

15 Jul

This post is about an incident that happened to me Friday night that absolutely infuriated me and that I cannot stop thinking about. 

Friday night, I went out to a club with some friends. While there, one of my friends (let us call him J) introduced me to someone he knew (let us call him M). J is from Senegal, we had a few mutual friends, and we bonded over my ability to communicate with him in his first language – and I also liked hanging out with him. M is from Sudan, loved to show off his wealth and was very physically imposing (if I had to guess his height I would say 6″8, and a BIG man too). 

All night M was flashing his money around (literally opening his wallet and showing it to people), annoyed every single one of my friends and was progressively getting belligerently drunk – I saw him get into at least 2 arguments with mild physical contact before my incident with him. 

We eventually left to another club, but unfortunately M was there too. I was talking to J when M came over and starting hitting on me – very, very persistently. I kept saying no, I wasn’t interested, and J also told him to back off and leave me alone. Then, M says to me “Look, I am a very wealthy man and I want you tonight. How much do I have to pay you to have you for the night?” 

I was so taken aback. I didn’t even know what to say. If I wasn’t genuinely concerned that he might hurt me (and was somewhere where I knew 100% that security would back me up), I would have slapped him across the face. I just walked away, stunned, to my other friends. 

The more I think about it, the more infuriated I get. This man felt so entitled that he thought he deserved my body. I was not a person with feelings, rights, and power over myself to him. I was just another object that he wanted and assumed that he could buy for the right price. I have never felt so objectified in my life. And while this behaviour is the most extreme sexual entitlement I have ever encountered, it is by no means the only. I have had my butt grabbed by strangers in Canadian clubs. I had a man call me a bitch for saying I wasn’t interested in Botswana. When my friend and I ignored two men’s catcalls from their car in Ethiopia one of them called me a fat slut. An American man with a high status put his hand down my friend’s pants against her will and I was the only one outraged with her. When I called him out for being disrespectful he laughed and said “I like power, but don’t worry I’m harmless.” 

This male sexual empowerment is one part of the rape culture we live in all around the world. Male sexuality is valued and is seen as inevitable and sometimes uncontrollable, while female sexuality is seen to exist for male pleasure. 

I am still worked up about this incident and don’t know how to put my thoughts into proper sentences, but I recommend reading a few other posts about sexual entitlement here, here and it’s follow up here

To put everyone at ease though (Mom, I know you won’t be happy when you read this!) I do have some wonderful friends here that would never put me in those situations, and indeed would help me out of them. For the record, my friend J was also visibly very upset and I saw him yelling at M for a solid 20 minutes before forcing him out the door to go home. 

I do not intend this post to be a criticism of all men. It is a criticism of the culture we live in that allows some men to think and behave in this way and for the majority of people to accept it as normal. 

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7 Responses to “Sexism, Power and Entitlement”

  1. Leah Rowlinson July 17, 2013 at 10:35 am #

    hey sweetie! This is really upsetting! I’m so sorry you that that happened!
    This brought up so many question for me- first, you’re right, that man used his body and his money to make you vulnerable, which is terrifying. But I also wonder if it was what he did that was wrong, or had he did it? I fundamentally view sex labour as any other kind of labour industry (care, physical, intellectual), the trade of one good for another- just like how people pay for ideas or manual labour. Is there a way that he could have asked you if you were interested in that kind of labour without it being so threatening? When situations like these arise I wonder what is it that’s so scary; the physical threat of this man who could overpower you? The exchange of money and the power that goes along with it? The stigma associated with the sex industry and how vulnerable that makes women? I think it’s important to think about these questions because I worry that there’s multiple layers to what happened. I’d love to live in a world where people are able to exchange goods without stigma, fear, or loss of angency. I think it’s important to ask ourselves how can we create safe spaces for women who would choose to take him up on his offer?
    Just some thoughts floating around in my brain!
    Love, love, love!
    Stay safe!
    Yours,
    Leah

    • kylamckee July 18, 2013 at 2:32 am #

      Hey, thanks for your comment! It definitely made me think, and I’ve been thinking quite a bit about it. First, I’ll start with my view on prostitution: I come out on the side of anti-john and pro-decriminalization. It would be quite a feat if we did live in a society where the sex industry wasn’t so detrimental to girls and women, but the reality is that it IS so I think it needs to be regulated.

      Second, I think that when in comes to selling sex, it should be seen as buying the service instead of as buying the women (thus turning her into an object). This is the key thing that bothered me about my personal incident; I felt objectified. Note his wording – he did not ask for sex, he demanded for me.

      The third thing to note is that there were prostitutes in the club too – women that were advertising it. The man could easily have bought sex that night from someone who was selling it. But instead, he felt that his wealth and power entitled him to my body.

  2. Karen July 16, 2013 at 12:23 pm #

    Kyla, wow I am going to have to “up” my prayers for you! Unfortunately there seems to be more and more of this “entitled” attitude the world over! I’m proud of you for not taking the “easy” road and continuing the path where you feel called to be. Remember…you are in the right! Keep at it girl! (p.s. if I get to the Sudan I may want this guys #…I certainly have a few “special” words for him! :+)

  3. Sharyn July 16, 2013 at 11:24 am #

    Kyla – you are correct to think that your Mom will worry when reading this! I am confident in your ability to look after yourself but hope that you do not ever find yourself in a situation where you won’t have friends and security people to help you. The sad reality is that you have to be on guard to avoid ‘entitled’ men like this.

  4. marnie rice July 15, 2013 at 10:26 pm #

    Kyla- So sorry to hear that this happened to you– I think you handled it very well, but I understand why you feel so angry. I hope you have friends to talk about this with, as that is very important. When you have processed it, you’re likely to come up with a constructive way to handle your feelings.
    Love
    Aunt Marnie

  5. shiggs91 July 15, 2013 at 5:21 pm #

    Thank you for sharing this, I know it can be hard to right about the hard stuff.
    I think you definitely reacted in the safest possible way, but it’s absolutely horrible that these things even have to be considered, that we have to consider personal safety when turning down an outrageous offer (any offer), and that some people feel entitled to other people’s bodies, emotions, and lives.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. How to be an Ally | A Day in the Life - July 31, 2013

    […] Challenge entitlement (read my previous blog post and personal experience about this here.) […]

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