From the age of 8 and onwards, girls are warned and aware of sexual harassment because this fear will be part of their daily lives till the day they die. Women adapt their behaviours and carefully navigate public spaces, workplaces and sometimes, also home surroundings, to minimise their chances of getting harassed. That deprives us of vital opportunities and experiences that men can take for granted.
Oh, but I’m sorry, I forgot to mention – NOT ALL MEN.
Women suffer from incidents that are awful enough to make the news – even if they were just walking home from work or on public transportation – yet men feel the need to defend themselves by saying ‘yeah but it’s not all men.’ This is not only being used to shut women up about their experiences but also to make them feel guilty and wrong. We know it is not all men. When we speak about oppression, abuse and rape – we know it is not all men. But 1 in 3 women are sexually assaulted by a man in their lifetime. That is enough for women to be afraid of all men. If we are walking home at night, we have to assume it is all men, because if we don’t – we might not make it home alive.
This is not just one incident. We have to stop pretending that this is an isolated occurrence towards women. This is the tip of the iceberg that is so big and prevalent across the globe in all societies. It is so widespread that we have normalised gender-based harassment and shrug it off as there are too many to pay attention to because it is not all men so why should we worry?
If you cannot be empathetic about the situation, at least just listen and try to understand. It is not all men, I agree – but it is enough to keep us in a constant state of fear. It is not us that need to change our routes home, or change our clothes, or hold our keys in our fists ready to defend ourselves, have a friend on speed dial just in case. Everyone has a responsibility to help change the present toxic culture.
With everything going on right now, we need to be angry, talk about it, educate others, allow others to educate us, shout for those who are afraid to speak! Victim blaming is so common in our society by asking questions like – “what was she wearing?” or “why was she there in the first place?” Invalidating the victim’s story only further encourages rape culture and scares others into silence.
IT WAS NOT HER FAULT - IT WAS HIS CHOICE!
The day we accept this, our girls can speak up about sexual harassment without being ashamed.
How fragile is your notion of masculinity, that when you hear about a violent against women you think it is an attack against you? You are the bigger part of the problem if you think that. What is the definition of a good man for you? Men who are polite and civil? Men who don’t molest, rape or abuse women? That is a definition of a normal human being. Is your masculinity so fragile that men require validation and gratitude every time they show half-decent behaviour?
Yes, it’s not all men – but all women have a story about sexual assault. 97% women have been sexually harassed before they are 24 and 96% do not report it due to shame associated with it. Let me put this in simple terms for those who still don’t understand. We are afraid of bees from the moment we are in the presence of one. Even though a bee has never stung you – you have heard stories about how painful the sting can be. Yet in the hive – not all the bees stings. Yet you run away from the sight of one because you don’t want to risk yourself being stung. Do you understand? It is not all bees - but it is enough bees - and enough painful and frightening stories to stay away.
Women are violated, abused and humiliated for the sole reason that they are women. Don’t invalidate our emotions. Don’t obscure female voices in an attempt to protect your ego and self-esteem. Smashing the Patriarchy is important for both men and women. But if you need a reminder “Not all men” every time a woman questions or calls out a man, you are not a supporter.