As a woman, there have been countless times that I have felt unsafe. Walking down the street results in catcalling, and I'm always looking over my shoulder because of that time I was almost raped in an alley in broad daylight. I've been catcalled, groped, and been on the receiving end of lewd comments or sexual propositions from coworkers and bosses--one notable time I was told multiple times that I'd need to "earn" my raise by performing fellatio, and the HR department didn't even write down my complaint because she was sure that I was lying. I've been taught from a young age that men are inherently bad, and that they shouldn't be trusted until they prove themselves. I've been taught to be wary of my friend's fathers and brothers, to never enter a closed-door meeting with a man unless there is a witness present (or I record the session). I've been at after hours functions where harassment is blamed on 'too much beer', and I've had wives tell me it's my fault their husband openly groped in public.
In most of these cases the perpetrators have been male, although I've been harassed by female colleagues for everything from the makeup or clothing that I wear to being told I was 'asking for it' when harassed by a male counterpart. I've also been sexually harassed by a female coworker before, but in general I only had to worry about the men. Perhaps the worst, if you can imagine, was the time I was told that my daughter could not wear a certain pair of shorts to school because it was "distracting". For the record, she is nine, and this happened this past spring. I call it the worst, not due to severity, but because it really highlighted the fact that women are to blame. And because I'm a mama bear, of course.
In no way am I unique; this is the norm for girls and women, and a reality that we face every single day of our lives. Until recently, nearly every rape prevention article or advice revolved around how the woman needed to change their behaviour in order to avoid being raped. "Don't wear a short skirt", "Never walk down a street alone at night", "Always have someone walk you to your car at night", etc. My brother was never told "Don't rape girls". This isn't a jab at my mother by any stretch of the imagination, but it goes to show the backwards mindset that women have been dealing with for hundreds of years, and just how far we have come in the last few years.
We still have so far to go. Daily, millions of women around the world are harassed--online and in person--for no reason at all. Expressing an opinion on Twitter somehow invites faceless man-trolls to show up in droves dropping their "uh, actually" or straight up harassing them. On that note, I was once called a "haggard c*nty troll that will never land a husband" because I proclaimed the Prisoner of Azkaban as my favourite Harry Potter book. I was already married at the time, so he was way off the mark. I suppose I can be a c*unt sometimes though, so I'll at least give him that one.
Does that terrify anyone else? I live my life conditioned to be afraid on men IRL, and now I have to worry about them attacking me online because they don't agree with me. Or, more likely, they have a quota of terrible tweets that they have to share every day to reinforce their long-held opinion that they are the superior sex. It's absurd.
I am so proud of each any every person that speaks up, and speaks out, about the systemic abuse that our culture has somehow deemed appropriate. The fact that it took the stories of many, many people to go viral before Hollywood did anything about Harvey Weinstein is disgusting and heartbreaking. How many people could have been saved from their trauma if we had just listened to them sooner? Why is it that bad publicity is what it takes in order for action to be taken against perpetrators, rather than the story of the woman involved? This world needs to change, and baby steps aren't enough.
Enough is enough. Let's protect women and girls, and trust their experiences. Let's kick and scream along with them until their attacker faces the consequences of their actions. Let's protect EVERYONE that is vulnerable to attack, whether they are gay or transgender or simply different-- no one should be afraid of being assaulted or harassed.
Also, for the record, I'm still h*cking mad about that Brock Turner.