Over the last few years, several steps have been taken to expose sexual crimes against women. From the #TIMESUP and #METOO movement, stories of sexual harassment and violence in the workplace have taken down several sexual predators within Hollywood, and work is being done to expand that impact into other industries. Meanwhile, current statistics in regard to violence against women paint a horrific picture, with global estimates published by the World Health Organization indicating that about 1 in 3 (or 35%) of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual violence, regardless of whether or not that person was their romantic partner. This is combined with the fact that 38% of murdered women are killed by a male intimate partner. On the other end of the sexism spectrum, catcalling and other acts of sexual discrimination are still rituals women are expected to put up.
As women, we are paid less, seen as incapable in the workplace, consciously concerned about our physical safety, and we’re not allowed to be angry about any of it.
In our modern society, a woman is discouraged, almost shamed for being passionate about fighting for her rights or speaking up about vital issues. When a man stands up and speaks his mind and expresses his values, he is applauded and, most importantly, listened to. However, when a woman takes the podium, she is seen as over-emotional, attention-seeking and irrational. And yet women are supposed to be completely okay with this double standard.
Of course, men are also taught from birth to not get emotional for the sake of masculinity. Creating another generation of men who are socially allergic to empathy and sympathy is not only unfair, but it only creates extra barriers between genders, stopping us from understanding one another and reaching mutual equality—meaning nothing can easily change.
On top of this, most men (with ill or good intent) take on a defensive stance once those within their gender identity are called out for predatory behaviour, sealing off their ears and minimising the victim or speaker’s message to deflect any blame against them as an individual. Not every man is a sexual predator, but by prioritizing that reminder over the realities of the sexual violence women face, one diminishes the seriousness of the situation—which again, women are expected to nod and smile at.
Whether our words are deflected, twisted, or ignored altogether, women are still told to not make a fuss or be a burden to others with their opinion or emotions, and if they dare speak, to speak quietly and with the intent to back down once scolded for doing so. It’s an almost laughable concept that we can’t be angry about not being allowed to be angry. Just because you fear someone calling your gender out, it doesn’t mean that what women or sexual violence survivors have gone through is any less traumatic—because it’s not. The very least anyone owes a survivor of sexual or any kind of violence is a listening ear and an open mind.