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Thursday, 29 May 2014

Yes All Women

I am sure that by now, you are aware of the murderous rampage that occurred in Santa Barbara, California this past weekend. I am also sure that most of you know who the murderer blames for this rampage. I am a few days late in giving my opinion, but I feel that my voice must be heard.

In his manifesto, the murderer (he does not deserve to be made infamous) stated: “You girls have never been attracted to me. I don't know why you girls aren't attracted to me, but I will punish you all for it. It's an injustice, a crime because... I don't know what you don't see in me. I'm the perfect guy and yet you throw yourselves at these obnoxious men instead of me, the perfect gentleman.”

And only hours after the shooting, another man shot at two women because they refused to have sex with him. You can read about that incident here:

Tell me, does a man who blames women for his rampage sound like the perfect gentlemen? It certainly doesn't to me.

I can hear any men reading this saying, “Not all men. That's only two men out of millions.” Please, tell me something I don't know. I know a few good men; I've even dated a couple. (Sadly, only a couple, though.) The fact that men feel they need to defend themselves when something like this happens doesn't help the issue at all.

But, Twitter came alive and one brave woman (who does not wish to be named) started a conversation with the hashtag, #YesAllWomen. I have lent my own voice to it, and now, I am speaking out here. Our voices must be heard.

One in three women will be assaulted in their lifetime. I am part of that one in three. More than half of those will not report it. I am also in that group. Why? Because we are so often told, “You should have said no,” “You should have fought back,” “It was a hard lesson learned.” We are asked, “What were you wearing?” every time.

I was raped by an ex-boyfriend after I told him “no” several times. I did not fight back because I was afraid of being beaten; my ex-boyfriend was much stronger than me. My own father told me it was, “a hard lesson learned.” What lesson do women have to learn from being raped? I was taught that men cannot be trusted, and that rape victims should be ashamed of themselves. My rape was a huge wake up call to how women are viewed and treated in our society.

As children, we are taught to always be aware of our surroundings because there could be a bad man lurking in the shadows who wants to kidnap us. As adults, we are told to carry pepper spray and rape whistles, and take self-defence classes to protect ourselves. We are taught to fear men, and the misogynistic views some of them have do not help us any. We are objectified and viewed as sex objects. Some men views us as serfs and as reproduction machines. We are not sex objects. We are not serfs. We are not reproduction machines. We are women. WE ARE PEOPLE.

Here's a question to all the women reading this: How many times have you gone to a bar and been approached by a drunk man? How often do you politely listen to what he has to say? How often do you laugh at his often not-so-funny jokes? All the time? Me, too. And I can hear the men, “Why would you do that?” We do that to protect ourselves from any potential aggression that drunkard may give us. Women: How have you ever claimed you have a boyfriend when a man is bothering you? Yup, me, too. And how many times has that man then walked away because he believes you belong to another man? Yup, that sounds about right. Why is that it's only when we claim we are taken by another man do those men stop their advances? Why aren't the words, “No” and “I'm not interested” enough? Why do they respect another man more than they do women? WHY?!

I've even had men say they don't care that I have a boyfriend, or say, “Well, if he doesn't show up, you know where I am.” At this point, it takes either one of my male friends, or another woman to finally get that guy to leave me alone. And many men think women should be flattered at this point. It is not at all flattering; it's downright rude.

Catcalling makes me pull my skirt down and pull the top of my shirt up to cover myself. It makes me feel very uncomfortable. I feel like an object rather than a person. When a man happens to get off the bus at the same stop as I do, especially late at night, I listen to his footsteps and watch his shadow until he turns and goes in a different direction. My keys are often in my hand to have them ready to go inside my apartment building, and to use as a potential weapon if need be. There have been nights when I've sped into the elevator or up the stairs because of the feeling I've gotten from a man loitering outside the building.

I wish I didn't have to do these things. I wish I didn't have to consider using my keys as a weapon when a strange man happens to get off at the same bus stop I do, or happens to be walking in the same direction I am. But, I have been raised, I have been conditioned to think these things. I have been taught that I need to fear the strange man.

We live in a society where misogyny is the norm. There are songs written about domesticating women, and rape. Blurred Lines is a blatant example, and a song I absolutely refuse to listen to. We live in a society where Robin Thicke can perform a song that is outright degrading to women and no one bats an eyelash. “It's just a song,” I hear people say. No, it's not just a song. It's glorifying rape. As a rape survivor, I find that song absolutely disgusting. Blurred Lines gives our young men the idea that rape, and domesticating women is okay. It's NOT okay.

Women are the reason men are on this planet to begin with. We give birth to the next generations. Why are the people who give you life being treated like we're less than human? Why are we being raped, assaulted, and harassed by the very people we gave birth to? Why don't we matter? Why must we be asked what we were wearing when we report an assault? Why must we be shamed when we are beaten by a man? Why is it, “Why didn't you leave?” instead of, “Why didn't the abuser stop?” Why must we be taught to fear men instead of men being taught to respect us?

The #YesAllWomen conversation on Twitter gives some real insight into the gender inequality women face on a daily basis. One wrote, “'I have a boyfriend' is the easiest way to get a man to leave you alone. Because he respects another man more than you.” Another said, “#YesAllWomen because the media will mourn the lives of ruined high school football players, but not of the girls they assaulted.” Yet another spoke out with: “#YesAllWomen because when a girl is harassed or even groped by a stranger in public, we're told to “take it as a compliment”.” A former college student told us: “In college, a police officer told us to scream FIRE if we were in danger of being assaulted otherwise people won't get involved.” And then there's this one: “When I had a seizure in my home, the EMS guys asked my roommates if it was possible I was trying to get a boy's attention.” And this last one came from a friend of mine on Facebook: “#YesAllWomen because last night on my way home from the movies I was verbally accosted for ignoring a man's kissy faces, and ignoring another man's attempts to hit on me.”

Since when is having a seizure getting a boy's attention? Why do we have to scream “FIRE” before someone helps us? My mother was mugged in our own apartment building, and when she yelled for help, people thought she was a kid fooling around. It wasn't until a friend of hers recognized her voice and opened his door that help was given to her.

We live in a society where men think it is okay to harm a woman, that it's okay to blame us for the crimes done onto us. We get the blame when we don't respond to a man's pickup lines. We live in fear of a man acting aggressively towards us if we turn him down. We live in a society where single fathers are praised while single mothers are shamed.

We teach our girls to fear men, and we teach them that wearing a short skirt advertises that men can come and ravage them. This is NOT what we should be teaching our girls. When I wear a short skirt, I'm wearing it because I want to, not because I'm asking for a man to have sex with me. Instead, we should be teaching our boys to have more respect for women. We should be teaching our sons to treat women as people, not as objects and sex toys. We need to teach our sons that no means no and that's final. We need to teach our sons that they are not entitled to our bodies. The only person who is entitled to a woman's body is the soul who lives within that body. We are the only ones who are entitled to our bodies. We do not belong to anyone. We are not animals that need domesticating. WE ARE WOMEN AND WE ARE PEOPLE. WE SHOULD BE TREATED AS SUCH.

For a link to the tweets used in this blog, click the link below.