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#YesAllWomen

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I was supposed to be taking the weekend off of social media, but I logged in tonight (of course) and saw the #YesAllWomen hashtag going crazy on Twitter. I added my own:

To which a lot of people responded supportively (including awesome YouTube creators like Freddie Wong and the Fine Brothers) and then I got a ton of “Unfollow”, and sarcastic “#menhateday” and “Oh yeah, all men are terrible”. Which makes me a) Who cares if they’re gonna unfollow me because of that, they are clearly people I don’t need to be appealing to anyway, and  b) and c) Oh gosh, do I even have to call out the ridiculous exaggeration? Or how sad it is that they missed the point, and the possibility to maybe see things from someone else’s point of view for a change?

So anyway, there are amazing comments around that hashtag, and you should check it out. At the very least, have some make you think differently, I certain had a few that did. But the one that got me the most was a recurring comment by a lot of women about how “it’s easier to tell a guy that you have a boyfriend so they’ll leave you alone. Because they respect a guy they’ve never met more than you.”

(Which is so sad and true, and every girl knows it in her bones as the way to deal with some horribly obnoxious person at a bar.)

But for me, the flip side is also true: How sad it is if you’re talking to a guy in a social situation, having a really fun conversation, and then somehow it comes up you have a boyfriend, and they drop you like a hot potato. Like, I’ve literally had a person say, “Boyfriend”? And WALK AWAY MID-SENTENCE.

Oh, and then I’ve had it happen that the guy acts like you were LYING to them by HAVING A FUN CONVERSATION AND BEING INTERESTING. HOW DARE I BE FUN IF IM NOT WILLING TO FALL IN LOVE/AND OR HAVE SEX WITH THEM?!?!  I mean…sigh.

I am a person who has always had a ton of guy friends, and the fact that there are many social situations where I’m not worth talking to as a person because I am not sexually available makes me so sad. For myself, and for the friendships that could be, but will never happen because to them, I’m only there for a possible hook up.

Once I came home from a party crying after such an incident, telling my boyfriend, “Men and women can’t be friends, I guess.” Which is totally not true, but when an incident happens like that a few times…it makes you less willing to even reach out and try to connect. Or worse, you strangely spurt out the word “BOYFRIEND!” in a reflexive way within the first two sentences of meeting someone, because you don’t want to be rejected later for “not being honest”. Which feels so wrong and is so messed up when you think about it, that it’s a girl’s “responsibility”. Might as well wear a stamp on your forehead, huh?

And that’s my long #YesAllWomen comment. I hope a few people can relate, because sometimes I think I’m just crazy haha.

And for the record, I am very happy to have many guy friends in my life who have NEVER done that. I love them dearly. Platonically, of course. 🙂

  • Carolyn @ At Least I Will

    Slow clap. This is painfully accurate. I am a mechanical engineer, so 95% of my coworkers are male and it gets so incredibly lonely at work. Since I’m ‘taken’, I’m just not worth the energy to try and form a friendship. I can talk about the big game on Saturday as much as anyone else, oh wait, nope, my uterus got in the way of understanding the rules of football…

    • Aaron Lovegren

      I still remember all of the hyper sensitivity training in the 90’s for engineers (mfgr) at the company I was groomed in. ‘Personal’ topics were recommended to be avoided. This became really sensitive for us as we participated in the MECOP program and annually hired on 10+ engineers, 1-2 new women engineering students, for 6 month internships. They were treated as lepers by staff and only had their fellow MECOP’ers to hang out with. The culture felt like we were asked to treat them as our peers but not as people to avoid ‘sexual tension’ and lawsuits. A model of fear was handed down from the brass that all women will immediately assume our intentions are sexual. My social group, who happened to be comprised of coworkers (mostly IT and HW engrs), did all we could to entertain them and go directly against the corporate standard. Few of us worked directly with them on projects so the women were always invited to our lunch table and a handful of off-site, non work related events, and succeeded in avoiding a strictly professional conversation. Obviously as they were students it was easy to break the ice with ‘what do you want to be when you graduate’. I got in trouble for one such off-site event; my wife found it odd they were all invited out to a group dinner in honor of a friends promotion, instantly assuming there was some ulterior motive (the women were the reward). Furthering the stigma that the minority group of women engineers is truly only brought on to feed male sexual desires.

  • Saila

    The boyfriend/husband thing is so true. Also, if you do mention the boyfriend/husband, sometimes there is a jerkface who will say “Oh, you’re not serious with him then?” or “Does he know you’re talking to other men?”. Because you must be having a conversation with a guy because you’re looking for hours of animalistic sex in various positions with him and therefore you are a slut. I hate this because I want to be friends with people regardless of their gender and I tend to get along better with guys but then someone makes this comment that makes me, an awkward introvert, feel even more awkward and introverted. It is like you said: the woman becomes responsible for the guy’s feelings and urges.
    My other favourite is the “for a woman/girl”-praise uttered by some men. For example, you are determined and ambitious and a man might think he is complementing you by saying “Wow, you really are ambitious for a woman”. Or at the gym, while you’re lifting weights, a guy comes over and says “You are quite strong, you know, for a girl”. These “praises” mean that a) these guys have a certain view of how women should act/feel b) you’re breaking that conception and c) you’re still not quite as capable as a man would be.

  • John O’Keefe

    I won’t say that men and women can’t be friends but I will say most guys are really bad at it. The majority of my friends are women, for whatever reason, but I’ve definitely witnessed those types of conversations, which sucks.

  • InJennifersHead

    So very true. Plenty of my single female friends have taken to wearing fake wedding rings just to avoid this sort of thing.

  • amytriplett

    I relate to all of this way too much. I can’t tell you how many times I have been having a great conversation with a guy and know that as soon as I bring up the word ‘boyfriend’ (or now, ‘husband’) that the conversation will disappear – or even worse, that the guy will resent me for not saying something sooner. Sometimes the paranoia of whether or not to bring it up or when to bring it up or how to bring it up ruins the great conversation *even as it is happening*. Or I fail to bring it up and feel vaguely guilty, like I did something *wrong* by having a conversation with someone where he might think that he might have been flirting with someone single? That guilt is bullshit, but it is hard to shake anyway.

    • stella

      Yes – if you wait too long it’s like you were hiding it deliberately, if you say it too soon it’s like you’re saying ‘don’t hit on me, I’m taken!’

  • Kim

    #Yestoallofthis – Observations that I’ve felt if not ever articulated. It’s disheartening, the knee-jerk reaction people have to what they deem is insulting the whole sex, when it isn’t. Read a little closer, please.

    I just realized that the reason I shy away from acknowledging men who are strangers is because I don’t want them to interpret the interaction as flirtation and sexual availability, and I find it difficult to move past this mentality. I understand it’s my personal hang-up to overcome, but I also need to acknowledge that I am not responsible for how they may view the interaction.

    • YuOfOwari22

      I have this same problem. I just don’t trust other men (besides the honey or people I have somehow managed to become friends with over the years) because I have been burned too many times about them “having designs” on me. I just like to talk to people, I’m not flirting with you – I’m just friendly for crying out loud! But men get the wrong idea, and I don’t really want that kind of attention at all. So now I am just wary of men I don’t know and I think it’s sad. I think I probably come off as some kind of ice queen (very short, to the point, not necessarily unfriendly, but I wouldn’t say friendly either) but it’s because I just don’t want it to go there.

    • Vivid Sammy

      So glad to read I’m not the only one… I feel kinda bad I do this and I am probably missing out on some great guy friendships. But it also made my life just a little easier this way… super conflicted about this. :c

  • Yes. Just, yes. Sometimes it’s difficult for me to believe that people can take one simple tweet and turn it into an “Oh boy, here come those crazy man haters again. Girl power gone totally overboard!”. I mean, really, if you have that much time to read into a comment that much, go do something productive.
    I also am in disbelief that there are still men out there that believe men and women can’t maintain platonic relationships. Over the years I have had (and still have) many male friends that I could never imagine being anything more than that. I think it’s important that women and men have platonic friendships (seriously, why hasn’t this been made super socially acceptable yet? Someone needs to get on that ASAP). I can’t stand it when a fun conversation is happening that guys sometimes don’t think “Hey, she’s pretty cool, we could totally hang out” but instead it’s like “What? She’s taken and we can’t have sex? Buh bye!” Super irritating.

    As for the whole “I have a boyfriend” trick, I’m ashamed to admit, I’ve used it once or twice. However, I am a Gemini, so if I’m not feeling it, chances are during the conversation I’ve already become disinterested and have stopped the conversation with a “Well it was nice chatting but I need to go meet up with my friends”.

    Moral of the story, this was probably longer than it needed to be, so I’ll end it here =)

  • greybirdtoo

    Men and women can be friends. The problem is that, at least in this culture (the USA), too many people look like men on the outside but are still emotionally boys on the inside. Adult women and people who are mentally boys can definitely _not_ be friends, because boys have only one thing on their minds when they see women. It’s really unfortunate that we don’t as a society encourage men to grow up and become mentally and emotionally mature and discourage this type of immature behavior, I think we’d all benefit from that. Personally I _like_ having women friends and always have. If more of these boys would just grow up, they’d see how great that can be.

  • wanderingWolfKing

    From the other side of the coin:
    I know lots of men are insatiable little pricks that can not see wasting time on a woman if it doesn’t lead to sex. I’ve known guys like that, they create the walls around amazing women that those of us labeled “good” guys struggle to tear down. That being said some of the most painful friendships I have had are with women that have a boyfriend.
    I’ve met some awesome,intelligent, caring, beautiful women that always seemed to choose horrible boyfriends, all the while here I am questioning what is WRONG with ME. He’s the asshole that cheats, I’m the shoulder that is cried upon. We read the same books and argue about which authors are better, he has no clue who C.S. Lewis, Lovecraft or Salvatore are. And sometimes she finds a guy that is cool and I feel happy for her, but that guy is a lot like me so again what’s wrong with me? I’ve had to walk away sometimes because the heart feels the most pain the moment it tries to beat again. That is the scary part, the part full of fear and self doubt.
    At this point I would like to openly admit that I have not mentioned the Platonic card. For a guy that is a double edged sword. A) If a single man has enough love to be friends with a woman he will almost always leave open the possibility of “LOVE” (not sex, although if he is an idiot willing to screw things up with sex he falls under a sub-category of the a fore mentioned insatiable little pricks.) B) If he is in a relationship any chance of a friendship with another woman must pass the strictly enforced standards of his current partner.
    There are walls and land-mines around all of us. The only options are to surrender or wade in and get bloodied in the fight. I hope nobody gives up. Maybe we can all compare battle scars in the retirement home. Good luck.

  • Lovely Rita

    So much yes to this. I’m in the same boat, only married, but with lots of guy friends. And it’s sad when you find out that friendship is so much less valued than a hookup. Fortunately there are guys for which this is not true, but it does happen depressingly often. (Or the feeling like you have to warn someone so that a conversation is not you “leading them on.” So I definitely relate.

  • Coko

    So true it hurts. This is one of the reasons why I find it difficult to trust men. Yes, not men are like this, but what are the chances of getting a bad one? Too many to be unwary. I’m sorry to think like this, but it’s necessary for my own safety. I find it difficult to approach men because you never know what they may think! If you act nice and kind, they immediately think you’re flirting, but then if say you just want to be friends, you get accused of “friendzoning”. It’s so sad.

  • aeontrin

    People of both genders are guilty of all of the above to one degree or another. The question is whether or not it is a lifetime pattern. People make mistakes and, if they continue to make the same mistakes, that’s one thing. Honest mistakes, though, are forgivable.

    Also, there are social situations that, by design or by happenstance, have that sexual component. Striking up a conversation in a bar has a higher likelihood of a sexual context than, say, striking up a conversation at a bus stop. I confess, though, that I have not been in enough bars to say that for an absolute certainty (True Southern beer joints, however, are another story… :)).

    To me, this sounds like an issue that is not all black and white, but filled with serious amounts of gray, like much of the human experience, I guess. There are folks around who take up too much oxygen, there are those who are not so much bad as insensitive, and there are those who are the ones you want around. For the first group, don’t give them anything that diminishes you and empowers them. For the second group, give them the modicum of patience that civilization requires. For the third, cherish them for the duration as they are the bright spots in life.

  • I thought the #YesAllWomen event was fantastic until I saw comments from women mocking men who have been sexually assaulted. Yes, I understand it happens to women way more than it happens to men. That doesn’t justify mocking the men who have been assaulted because it doesn’t happen to men as often. A lot of the things where guys were throwing things in to derail or mock the event deserved the scorn but sexual assault isn’t an area to dismiss regardless of the victim. Once I saw that happening, I just stopped following the posts. Maybe some would call that petty…and it was just a small minority…but it was so distasteful I just couldn’t shake the disgust I felt reading them.

  • Dresden Parker

    Concerning this article, as a guy it does feel like what Ms. Day says is true. Writing as someone who has/had a pretty low idea of self worth, it is incredibly taxing to start a conversation with the opposite sex, romantic inclination or otherwise. To have a conversation go from, “Hello, how are you, are you having fun?” to “I have a boyfriend”, what’s a guy to do? The cowardly way out is to denigrate and belittle the other person, which is what I fear people do when their feelings get hurt as a coping mechanism to prevent from actually acknowledging the situation for what it’s worth…a failed attempt at finding acceptance. People, myself included, try to limit failure whenever possible. I believe what is needed on all sides of the gender pole is a societal shift in the way we all deal with rejection…be it meting out or the acceptance of, especially regarding relationships. A guy may step back from a conversation when you say you’re “taken” not out of deference to the invisible man but because it’s easier to accept one “lost to a better man” than failed at being accepted as a person of worth. When two people are having a great conversation and a significant other is mentioned, it takes both the parties out of the now and creates a line drawn…Suddenly, conscious or otherwise, you’ve introduced someone else in a two person conversation putting “X” in front of the person you’re speaking with, a blockage to acceptance and another step towards rejection.

    I don’t mean to simplify or belittle the conversation, but I believe education in the art of rejection would help alleviate self worth /self esteem issues as well as opening the door to those untapped potential platonic relationships.

    • Jess

      As I was reading I was also thinking about how the ‘I have a boy/girlfriend’ type line is one of the few ways that women can show/say that they are not interested in pursuing that kind of relationship with someone that is less likely to be taken as a direct comment on the person they are talking to (in other words, it’s not just about respecting some person who isn’t there rather than her, but about not being directly rejected as a person). I think the main problem for both people in the interaction is the way the situation is viewed/set up in the first place: as a potential conquest slash rejection with all kinds of implied personal evaluations attached … which is why it’s so hard for women to have guy friends. We don’t have to set it up that way. Seeing women as people and not (just) conquests would be the solution … perhaps if we all pursued not the art of rejection but of mutual understanding …. because the interaction really shouldn’t be about potentially being “accepted as a person of worth”, or not (but I know what you mean and it was eloquently put). So here’s to a societal shift not in the way we deal with rejection but in the way we deal with interaction.

      • Dresden Parker

        I agree whole heartedly. The “conquest” paradigm needs to end in regards to interaction. Once we figure out how to go about that, I believe it would help alleviate problems such as self worth, gender inequality, and a whole host of other issues.

  • Neal

    I wish I could say something that would clear it all up. All I can say is if Felicia you ever started a conversation with me and wanted to be friends I would consider myself to be very very lucky.

  • ChristopherStargazer

    This is the culture we’ve created sadly. It’s reinforced in pretty much every form of entertainment and many forms of media. Don’t you wish you could grow a beard and mustache now? That would help expose the depths of shallowness real quick for many.

    You could cut your hair shorter still and dye your hair to go for that King Geoffrey look. (please don’t though!)

    Something that really disgusted me was when I heard about Game of Thrones “fans” at Emilia Clarke’s Broadway performance. Where she did a nude scene and those “fans” went nuts breaking out their camera phones despite the rules, being disruptive the performance.
    Clearly they weren’t there for Broadway, they didn’t respect her enough to not be disruptive and appreciate that she was acting in a live play. Hypothetically, if she were skating nearly nude on the ice in the winter Olympics, I bet there would be “fans” climbing out onto the ice to get photos.

    I guess some people have no notion of inward beauty, and only see a piece of meat.

  • Ben J

    I will be your friend Felecia mostly because I love rolling out with my girl friends, yes I mean friends who are female, because at the end of the day some guys would rather have a good conversation, than sex. Also when we bro things get ridiculous.

  • BigStevie

    Hi Felicia, it is a sad state of affairs how some blokes react to the thought of a platonic relationship; if it weren’t for them, I’d have no female contact at all!! :'( Lol! Anyway, live you’re work and we’re not all jerks!! 😉

  • BigStevie

    *love (oops)

  • stella

    Late to the party here, but YES SO MUCH. Was just talking to my BFF today about a guy that she met (in the daytime, in a shop after he helped her carry some things) and was really friendly and nice and he asked for her number. She took his, but then felt bad because she ‘can’t’ call him because that would be ‘leading him on’ as she has a boyfriend. I suggested a text and an upfront admission that she is in a relationship, but it would be cool to hang out as friends, and she said she couldn’t as her boyfriend would go nuts. I suppose that’s a different kettle of fish, but as a married lady it made me sad. (Full disclosure, my husband wouldn’t have a problem with it as long as I was being honest).
    Sometimes you meet a guy and think hey, he would be a cool friend! But somehow you’re not worth talking to any longer if you’re not a sexual option.

  • Bri

    You have definitely summed up my social experience for the past 2 years and this really put it in perspective for me. (Just discovered this blog/website by the way, so I’m a tad late on the thread. Regardless, Felicia is such an inspiration and this was a great message.)

  • Chuddox

    I had to laugh at the walk off mid sentence bit, I’ve done it. Maybe for different reasons than you think. I met this girl when I was in college. She was a music major, and I do some sound engineering and compose on the side. I talked with her for a few weeks on campus, a couple times a week, when during one of our conversations I invited her to hang out. I got a very prompt. curt, and somewhat snarky “I have a boyfriend” which when spoken sounded sounded more like “I wouldn’t go out with you if you were the last man on earth”. I turned around and walk off, never bothering to correct her on the fact that I wasn’t hitting on her.

  • Nahats

    “Might as well wear a stamp on your forehead…”
    That is, after all, what the red dot on a woman’s forehead means in India. (Actually, “Married”)
    Clearly the issue is cross cultural.

  • Rochelle

    Well said! I have had the same interactions in social situations including the guilt-riddled ‘you didn’t tell me you had a boyfriend’. In fact, I never put my relationship status on FB so as to avoid loosing an opportunity to talk to guys- and in case of a change in status to avoid self-interested parties from taking advantage. Sounds dumb now that I say it. #yesallwomen #yeahmetoo

  • Naluuna

    I can laugh at a lot of comments but the one comment that kicks me in the belly everytime is ” Woman do not play World of Warcraft” I do and im all female

  • fire lion

    Funny. When I talk to women, having a good conversation, etc. Then when it comes to me not having a job. All of a sudden their interest goes away completely. Men wants sex, women want money. The way of the world.

  • fire lion

    A made up panic made up statistics to support a narrative: That being male is a crime. and that women are always victims. More men are raped than women every year, and men are far far less likely to report.
    If feminism is about equality where are the feminists demanding women be in the draft?

  • flumboo

    I would be preposterous to think that an awesome woman like you would NOT have a decent boyfriend 🙂
    You’re great! Keep on making us not weird!

  • Fred of the Dark

    I originally created this male sounding name to avoid this sort of thing, but find if I don’t reveal myself as a girl, I end up being treated as an interloper with no stake in convos about issues I have very strong feelings about. Especially ‘bro-verse’ types who then label me a gender traitor of some kind.

    So I come out as a woman….and suddenly I have to deal with the men who feel the drive to win my affections. Then I come out the other way. Sorry guys. I only date other women. I don’t dislike men…I’m not even indifferent to men. I just prefer other women romantically.

    Then the fun really starts. From the silly (So when you do it who’s the guy?) to the undiscouraged clueless (Could I watch?) to the arrogant (You just haven’t met ME yet, sweetcheeks…I”LL cure you.) to the inexplicably wounded (How could you LIE to me?) This last was from the fellow who I hadn’t said anything to beyond that I was a girl, but turned him down later citing my orientation. Funny coming from a man whose gaming avatar had vampire fangs and a Conan physique with a monster codpiece. It was too easy. ‘Yes…I’m a liar. I’m not really a four inch tall winged pixie over 500 years old. Can you ever forgive me?’ Predictably he never spoke to me again, but I’m not crying over it.

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