My favorite chapter of the book Cunt by Inga Muscio is the part on Self Protection. What she writes is that if you protect other women, you protect yourself. I saw her at a reading in Durango, Colorado and this was part she read. She would read a line and we would yell back, “That’s self protection!”
It is below, but I’ll tell you why I’m thinking about it today. Once upon a time at IES, we had a talk by our beat cop. He told us things to look for to protect ourselves. Something I remember vividly is that muggers work in pairs. Person one will come up to you and ask for a buck. You pull out your wallet and give him a dollar. He says, “god bless you.” and touches you on the shoulder. Later you reach for your wallet and find it missing or your purse has been pulled from your shoulder.
When they guy touched you on the shoulder, he marked you for his team member. This person is good to mug. Hit them next. Today on the train, a guy came through begging for money. He claimed he’d been robbed, even of his shoes, by a “fucking nigger.” He didn’t say that to me, he said it to the guy in front of me that he was asking in spanish for money. I think this was his buddy. He didn’t say it to anyone who spoke english, just to this guy.
Then he went up half a car and asked another woman for money. She tried to be polite, as society has taught her to be, and say no. She wound up opening her school bag and finding her wallet and giving him a dollar. He harrassed her a while longer and then touched her on the shoulder, made eye contact with someone behind me, and moved to the next car.
Wait, Leah. Where is the part where you helped her out? Why are you talking about self protection when you just let it happen? I struggled for a couple stops and then approached her. I told her that I’d seen him touch her on the shoulder and that is sometimes a sign to someone else to mug this person. Then I saw that she had braces and she was probably in her early teens.
She thanked me for the advice and then when I got off the train, she thanked me again. I know strangers don’t help strangers too often, but it is self protection to do so. It is the same reason I used to drive strangers to their houses in Durango, when I had a car. I knew that I would do it safely, where someone else might hurt them.
On to the excerpt.
When you aren’t afraid of looking like a supreme chickenshit and ask your friend to go into the public bathroom with you because it creeps you out, but not for any tangible reason, that’s self protection.
When you are in a music store and you pick a CD by women musicians who have your back instead of a bunch of boys who hog all the air time on the radio, that’s self protection.
When you are sitting on the bus and the man who sits next to you gives you a bad vibe and you get up and move to another seat without giving a rats ass about feeling like you’re being rude, that’s self protection.
When you find out which politican is supportive of women, lesbians, and motherhood and vote for her, that’s self protection.
When you look at all the beautiful women on TV and in magazines and think they are a part of a wierd industry run by men with major, major dick complexes, that’s self protection.
When you boycott all media not responsive in every way, shape, and freudian slip to women’s rights, that’s self protection.
When you tell your dude if he can’t hold his wad until you’re damn well ready to come then he’s gonna hafta invest in a strap-on dildo of your choosing, that’s self protection.
When you ask for a raise, that’s self protection.
When you and your friends concoct plans of poetic guerrilla terrorism against a teacher, fellow student, co-worker or boss who sexually harasses women, that’s self protection.
When you decide it’s in your best interest to worship a goddess who innately respects women, that’s self protection.
When you dance, run, jump, buy yourself a birthday cake even though your birthday is five months away, cavort, kiss all the girls you love to love, laugh, sing, jump rope, ding-dong ditch the house of someone who gets on your nerves, swing, climb trees, pick your nose in public, daydream, eat with your fingers, break something on purpose, fart loudly, pin your friends to the ground and tickle them, that’s self protection.
Everytime you look in the mirror and your heart races because you think “I’m so fucking rad,” that’s self protection.