I’ve seen this hashtag being used, #yesallwomen. Initially I didn’t know it was in response to anything, but I loved it. I truly think it does open up people’s eyes (especially some men who don’t necessarily see a problem with how society treats women).
I can relate to the majority of the posts as well. I can relate to being afraid in a dark parking lot in the middle of the night, keys braced by my fingers just in case a man attacks me. I can relate to going to a party or club and not drinking too much because I knew I could get attacked and then be blamed because society tells me it’s not the rapists fault, it’s mine. I can relate to being harassed on the street, the feeling of someone actually grabbing my butt and laughing like it was ok when I was terrified. Through the work I do, I’ve heard the abuse stories, the rapes, assaults, beatings, I’ve heard it all.
I know I was primed by society to know I wasn’t safe alone, that if I was with a man, he should walk me out into that dark parking lot, join me on the street and defend me from potential harassment and assailants because it is safer to be with a man. The men I grew up with were never taught to be afraid because a woman might rape them or attack them, but I was taught a man could and that was a reality I had to accept. I had to accept the fact that I could be attacked, be taught how to keep myself safe, but potential attackers didn’t have to be taught not to attack me in the first place.
That is what you learn, growing up as a woman. People tell you that you’re supposed to go through life independently because you can do anything, just don’t dress like a slut (whatever that means), don’t drink too much and always stay armed if you’re alone, keys between your fingers, mace in hand.
After doing more reading, I discovered that this hashtag was in response to the shootings in Santa Barbara and I see more and more articles appearing on my Facebook focusing on ‘women’s’ issues and how the shooting solely relates to those issues. To be perfectly honest, it is really bothering me.
I agree, his manifesto was sexist and misogynist, however I do not believe one bit that this is solely a woman’s issue nor should it be made into one.
As a feminist, I fight for equal rights, equal for both men and women. I recognize my own struggles in society as a woman, however I know men have different struggles at times as well. With regards to the shooting, we need to talk about the sexual violence against women, we need to talk about how we are NOT property, men do not OWN us, we are not to be sexually dominated.
At the same time we need to talk about the hyper-masculine version of a man that society creates and pressures men to be. They are supposed to be strong, dominating, sexually driven and yes that is part of the reason why there is violence against women (another great conversation) but it also impacts men as well.
If we’re going to bring in topics on how this hurts women, we should talk about how it hurts men too. We should also be talking about how when men are sexually assaulted they can’t come out and talk about it because then they appear to not be ‘real men’. God forbid a man is sexually assaulted by a woman!! Our society makes that into a joke that is seen in movies, we laugh at that, think it’s not even possible. What about when a female beats her male partner?? That’s a joke in society too. There was a video that was created first showing two actors. First the man was grabbing and hitting the woman in public and people intervened! They said they’d call the police, shouted at him to stop, were visibly upset! When the tables were turned and the woman beat the man, no one came to help me. There were actually people who laughed at the scene, as if it were a joke.
So yes, I strongly believe we need to talk about violence against women, we need to start this conversation, we need to talk about what we go through, we need to talk about how the stereotypically masculine image hurts us because we are turned into sexual property. At the same time, we need to acknowledge that this hyper-masculine image also hurts men as well, especially in cases of abuse (as it hurts women).
If this hashtag was unrelated to the shooting that would be a different situation where it could only involve the struggles women face. Since it’s not and if we’re going to bring up all these topics of violence against women, we should do the same for men.We must have a conversation, and all-inclusive conversation about abuse, neglect and how gender expectations hurt us, not only as women or as men but as a society.