CW: mentions of rape, sexual harassment, sexist language in the context of a critique
‘Feminist: A person who believes in the social, political and economic EQUALITY of the sexes.’
Every morning, I like to start my day by having a quick look on social media. I have a lot of political and science groups on there that always post new articles, and as a sufferer of MS I am also part of a few support groups. But recently, I have noticed an increase in guys posting ignorant/sexist and misogynist memes on there also. Some even post long rants at the absurdity of women campaigning for equal rights, “What about men’s rights?” they argue.
In fairness to them, how can they possibly understand what it’s like to be a woman on a day-to-day basis? How are they expected to understand what it feels like to be talked down to, leered at, judged more harshly and treated differently more-or-less every day? And how can they grasp what it’s like to be female when they can go to a pub/club without any expectation of being harassed, groped… or worse?
I know one friend who was urinated on by a guy on a night out. His response when questioned by a bouncer… ‘She had a dirty face and I thought she might like it’. Myself and nearly all my female friends have been groped so harshly (both bottom and breasts) that they bruised and I know of one friend who lost her mates on a night out and was dragged down an alleyway and raped… she was 17. She hasn’t been to a club since.
Outside of the club scene, two of my mates were raped when they were 13 by men they trusted, another at 15, and another was raped by her boyfriend when she was 21. Oh, and none of these men were held accountable for their actions (lack of evidence, fear of not being believed, invasive medical examinations, recalling the event at the police station and reluctance to go up in court to relive the event again as well as being interrogated and made accountable for their alcohol consumption and/or clothing choice – adding to that the fear of them being found not guilty).
How many men can honestly say they’ve had firsthand experience of any of this? How many of their friends have horror stories of being sexually abused by women? It exists, but nowhere close to the level that women experience it from men; for a woman it’s almost normal.
In the UK today, that is what most women have to put up with. In other areas of the world, the reality of living as a woman is truly terrifying in comparison. Forced marriages (often underage), genital mutilation, breast flattening and in some areas women are murdered or forced into slavery/marriage just for wanting an education!
Therefore, I fully stand by the women’s marches recently. A lot of people have been posting on social media stating ‘it’s a waste of time’ and ‘what about other countries where women are stoned to death or face genital mutilation?’ and one that strikes a particular chord with me: ‘you have equal rights, what are you marching for?’
The western media focused on the inauguration of President Trump as the main reason for the marches (which was the case in America) but most men and women were marching to protest the inequality women face all around the world. Officials reported around 673 marches worldwide, including countries like India, Nigeria, Columbia, Iraq, Ghana, South Africa, South Korea and many, many more. Each country marched to highlight the inequality faced in their respective countries. Some marches also included members of the LGBTQ+ community who are also campaigning for equal rights.
In regards to the other comments, according to western law: yes we (more or less) have equal rights. But women are still treated very differently to men, whether it’s positive or negative – we just want to be treated equally. We are fed up of some men making inappropriate comments, both in and out of work. We are fed up of being groped by men in clubs, then getting called things like ‘frigid lesbian’ when we kick off about it. We are fed up of being ignored, talked down to, mocked and judged. We are not allowed to be sexual, in the way that men can be. There are a plethora of negative words to describe women who are promiscuous (slag, slut, whore etc.), but how many negative words are used to describe men who sleep around…? None. They are described as a ‘stallion’ or a ‘ladies’ man’ – both with positive connotations. According to some men, if we complain about being oppressed but wear short skirts occasionally or dance provocatively then we have no right to say we are being oppressed, and some even go as far as to suggest that it’s our own fault when we are assaulted or raped, suggesting that we ‘asked for it’. Their mentality is shocking.
Feminism isn’t all about women. Feminism fights for the equality of ALL PEOPLE. The only reason the focus mainly falls on women’s issues is due to the constant discrimination and injustice of the treatment of women in every country on the planet.
We want to make our voices heard, for ALL women and ALL men. It’s not fair that men are expected to act a certain way. They can’t express how they feel or show emotion because it’s not ‘manly’. They have to conform to a very narrow stereotype in order to avoid ridicule or worse. The biggest reason for male deaths under the age of 40 is suicide. Most men feel like they can’t report abuse and most men are refused the right to see their children as priority goes to the mothers and I don’t agree with that.
I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for some men to navigate themselves in this world, I’m not a man and therefore I’ll never properly understand.
But I can empathise and try… all women want is for men to try and do the same for us.
– by Victoria Lee