No Boys Allowed : A Statement
I spent the later years of my twenties letting myself get messed around by two 29-year-old white dudes who had the same damn name, because karma's a bitch and so is Saturn Return. These boys were very different people, but they chose the same kind of ending: they committed dishonourable and senseless betrayals, took no responsibility for the horrible mess that their choices had created, implied that I had become a nuisance and a control freak and was therefore deserving of their disrespectful treatment, called me dramatic, immature, selfish, and crazy, and left me waving the loose ends at them for months while they sulkily refused to cooperate with my suggestions for a more amicable and tidy de-coupling.
These boys were scared. They were confused. They were stressed out and struggling under late capitalism. Their actions were informed by their pain. They are worthy of compassion. It's not easy growing up.
These are not excuses. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, this is a manifestation of some ugly cultural norms and it's time to get a bit more vocal and proactive about the smashing of the patriarchy.
One of them used to spend long evenings complaining to me about how masculinity is in crisis. He's not entirely wrong - gender dynamics are as confusing as they've ever been. I can imagine that standing next to the modern iteration of an empowered woman must feel very threatening at times. It's true that the recent waves of feminism have involved some bullying and neglect of the menfolk. Some of the boys are getting left behind, and that's not right.
But look, boys: y'all can get it together. The women are tired. There is a beautiful parallel to be drawn to the recent conversations around racial inequality. The common ground is the responsibility to self-educate.
A very intelligent female friend recently told me that men usually learn correct behaviour from the women in their lives. I am here to say HELL NO, that is not my job. It is not that hard to figure out how to treat people decently. The boys can read Daniel Goleman. They can read The Ethical Slut. They can learn nonviolent communication, attachment theory, consideration, and boundaries. They can go to therapy. They can build the communities that are currently lacking and stop complaining about how women have access to more sophisticated emotional support networks than they do.
I have learned most of my social skills as an adult. There is no reason why the boys should be incapable of this. The information is available. The human brain is fully developed by age twenty-six. At some point, ignorance becomes a choice.
Women must stop indulging the paradigm that we can accept anything less than equality and mutuality. We are right to have some expectations. Men and women are very different, and allowances can be made for that, but double standards must die. The "crazy ex-girlfriend" trope must die. If three months of lockdown beverages with my mother has taught me anything, it is that women still do too much, and we still accept too much. Peruse the memes if you don't believe me. Women are up against deep and insidious cultural conditioning. Feminism has made glorious strides, but the battle is far from finished.
Lord knows I tried to teach them, but ultimately, I don't get any control over whether or not these boys learned anything from our shared time and experiences. I don't get any control over the role they've assigned me in their own narratives. I don't get any control over whether or not they're now taking advantage of someone younger and dumber who is willing to cater to their fragility, cognitive dissonance, and unexamined habits of dysfunction.
I can still access feelings of love and appreciation for these people, and I still wish they were capable of making amends in support of happier endings. I feel sadness because we're not playing on each others' teams anymore. I also feel absolute fury every time I allow myself to think about the injustice of the situations that they created. I do not feel gratitude for the traumatic experiences and emotional abuse that these boys clumsily served me. I know I did not deserve that.
So, look: I got smarter. I got educated. I got better connected with my female cohort. I got really, really, really articulate. I broadened my understanding of the diversity of human experience and the subjective nature of reality. I examined myself and engaged in deliberate personal growth and shadow work. I used my anger as fuel to make things of beauty and piles of money. I strengthened the foundation of unconditional self-love that is a famous prerequisite for loving anyone else. And now, I get a lot of control over who gets access to my heart and who doesn't.
I also get control over my voice. The stupid boys have been telling me to shut up since kindergarten, so that is exactly what I'm not going to do. Both of these ex-lovers eventually tried to shame me for using my voice. They were embarrassed. They wanted me to keep everything quiet so they could get away with mistreating me and suffer no consequences. Fuck that. I'm going to carry on aggressively acquiring clinical terminology to sharpen the scythe with which I cut through the bullshit. I'm going to call out subtle misogyny as specifically and as loudly and as eloquently and with as much strategic profanity as proves necessary. I am not afraid. I would rather be single than be silenced.
I'm not trying to start a gender war, air my dirty laundry, or medal at the Oppression Olympics. This is a statement about the experiences that led me to this particular piece of artwork. 'No Boys Allowed' has three years of pain and rage and tears in solitude and hard lessons summed up into two point five minutes of flashy fun and games. I created this opportunity and I am speaking my piece. This is my voice, my platform, my story, my work, my truth. I'm here fighting out my own salvation like everyone else, but I know I'm not alone, so I'll say it again: the women are tired. I am tired of being demonized as a crazy lady because I have some basic and reasonable requirements. I am disappointed and I am bored. Step up the damn game.
WITH LOVE FROM ROSE