Fun with (sexism-specific) social anxiety!

I keep joking about how I’m “too sensitive for the real world,” but it’s really not a joke. I know I’m about two weeks late for the #YesAllWomen bandwagon, but I think it’s important to come clean about these feelings. I have social anxiety that stems significantly from the sexism and misogyny I’ve encountered in my life. I assume lots of women have these anxieties too, but no one else seems to be functionally incapacitated because of them.

Example: I’m pretty much terrified to leave my apartment alone. Why? Because a (probably) small percentage of people believe that women exist solely for men. Let’s talk about a real situation: until a couple months ago, in Massachusetts, it wasn’t expressly illegal to take upskirt photos without a woman’s permission. I commend my state for acting so quickly, but why wasn’t this covered by some other law? Why it is assumed that a woman’s body is public property until we make a law against it? The Creeps argue that being in public means you’re opening yourself up to anything that’s technically not illegal. So, I have no reasonable expectation of privacy outside my apartment.

Let’s just break this down so you can see how insane I am. I’m afraid to leave the house because I have to exist in a world where other people are jerks. I have to somehow live with this when the “bad people” get to live their normal lives. I feel like I’m being punished for something someone else is doing. I’m basically still three years old and crying, “that’s not fair!” and my mom is smoking her cigarettes while watching soap operas and telling me, “life isn’t fair. Deal with it.”

How am I supposed to exist as a functional member of society when I’m afraid all the time? How am I supposed to work and socialize and otherwise realize my potential if closing the door behind me makes me want to burst into tears? I don’t want to just have to just deal with the fact that the public has every right to objectify me because I “chose” to leave my apartment.

These crazy feelings come out and then I feel ashamed that I’m a bad feminist because I’m just another example of a woman who can’t control her emotions. And then I feel angry because Why should I have to be perfect because I’ve “come out” as a feminist and everyone will judge all feminists based solely on my example?

There’s a lot more to this than just, “sometimes I have to encounter mean people and I don’t like that.” But that’s all I’m willing to write about today. Because putting these thoughts down makes my eyes misty and my breath shallow.