“Why are the women talking about this now when it happened long ago?”
“She should have known.”
“She isn’t famous enough.”
“I don’t believe her! He is such a nice person.”
There’s more to this list of commentary and judgement. Through my own experiences, I have been made to feel many a times that my truth does not have as much value as that of a man. For me, coming forward and talking about my experience of abuse is about proving my innocence. The world has already judged me and weighed in and analyzed everything from my lifestyle to my job to what I wear and how and with whom I choose to spend time with. In just a moment, I become someone who was asking for it or giving the wrong ideas than someone who has experienced harassment.
The narrative around my experience gets stolen. This has been the story for ages. Almost every other women I know has been abused or experienced some form of sexual harassment at some point in their lives. That’s enough violence for anyone to even call it a war against a gender.
Women are speaking up now. They are no longer quiet. The realization that their experience of abuse is not their guilt or Shane to live with has given courage to many other women. It’s important that we acknowledge the experiences women have had. Just because you may personally not have had them does not negate the massive scale of the issue.
We’ll put up a few news stories, a few hashtags, a few thought articles (a lot like this one). We’ll rant and cry and discuss in women’s forums. Forums where men are largely absent and hence completely unaware and unempathetic about our experiences. I believe that men need to be sensitised and educated. Abuse impacts everyone. Including men.
Before the hashtags die and we look at the next news cycle, we need to talk about building awareness. We should create a safe space where people can openly talk about their experiences without any fear.
Abuse, stays with the victim till the end. The experience changes them. They carry it everyday with them. Their relationship with their own body changes. It haunts them. It’s traumatizing.
We need love and healing. We need sharing and support systems. We need love. Talk about abuse. Don’t run away.
As for me, I can rant all I want but real change is a long way off. Till then, I live life with the faith that I am protected.
I am going to give a man’s perspective. I will try to keep it short. First of all I want to apologize for every time I may have told an off color sexual joke or made a sexually loaded comment. Just “locker room humor” but it can be, strike that, it is hurtful. Just as much as somebody calling me fat, or obese because I have no will-power. I understand, not that it is the same thing.
Now this is where I see things are wrong in our society on this matter. There are women who will say it is not a big deal.
I work in a manufacturing facility and we have about a half dozen women who have that attitude. They express the idea, “oh just get over it, boys being boys” etc.
Then there are the women in the media who are defending the perpetrators in the matter who are bashing the victims. That really sends a mixed message. Especially when these same women have been preaching women’s rights etc.
Lastly you have the good men who are saying nothing. We need to stand up and say to other men and women when we here the locker room humor that it is not right and it needs to stop.