#YesAllWomen appeared as a response to the murder of six UC-Santa Barbara students at the hands of a man who, in part, blamed his rejections by women as the cause of his rage. Using this Twitter hash tag, women and men from all over the world have been speaking out against not only violence, harassment and sexism against women, but the very perceptions that society has these victims. The campaign has inspired many supportive responses, as well as heartbreaking real stories.
As a victim of sexual harassment, catcalling and groping, I hope that this internet phenomenon can help men understand why many women feel victimized because of their sex. It’s really something you can’t understand until you have experienced it, and I hope that we as a society will reach a point where this is universally unacceptable. Too many times, I have been told that I should take being harassed as a compliment, or that the men were just trying to be friendly. Obviously this is not the only kind of violence and harassment that women face, but it is an important one to discuss as many women face it on a daily basis.
If you have never been harassed, imagine this scenario. You’re walking down the street, doing nothing, and a stranger comes up to you. He stops in front of you and leers at you, licking his lips. “Ooh, sexy.” You try to walk past him, but he keeps blocking you. “Why won’t you talk to me?” You dip your head lower, and walk away. He follows you for several steps, and grabs your butt before walking away laughing. Tell me how that is supposed to be a compliment.
Being harassed by men who are “just trying to get to know you” is a frightening experience. We, as women, don’t want to be bothered when we’re just trying to be out living our lives. Until all men understand what it means to harass someone, and stop doing it, there are women who are afraid to leave their houses.
This is not something that women should be ashamed of. This is something that the men who victimize us, and the society that tells them that it is OK should be ashamed of. If this phenomenon does anything, I hope that it makes people really think about the way that women are treated not only in this country, and but all over the world.
One interesting thought of the discussion is that people need to teach their sons not to rape instead of their daughters not to be raped. I think that this idea is a correct one. This problem is not going to be solved by teaching women how to dress, act and when to be outside in order to prevent violence and harassment. We are not the ones responsible for being treated this way; it’s the men who victimize us who need to be educated.
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