Let me just preface this by saying that I am (unfortunately) only one person, and my views are mine and mine alone. That being said, we are a blog centered on women’s lifestyle etc. and this is something we’ve been seeing all over the news, social media and pretty well every other screen we own.
The Harvey Weinstein scandal that recently shook up Hollywood is causing a metaphorical waterfall of sexual harassment accusations all across North America, chiefly pointed towards the entertainment industry but slowly moving towards other industries.
Girls, if I asked you how many times in the past week alone you’ve altered how you live your life because of this fear we have instilled in us, what would you say?
Did you walk to your car in the grocery store parking lot with your keys in between your fingers?
Do you walk with only one headphone in to hear if you’re not alone?
Changed your route home to a busier street?
When you start to think about how often we do something with the motivation of fighting back it’s absolutely mind boggling.
We see people like Weinstein all over damn near every industry in the world, people who build their careers upon this confidence that they’re untouchable. Sexual harassment in the workplace has been ignored, even at times expected, for far too long. This is a man whose net worth is roughly 250 million. 250 million dollars. So, to put it in perspective, someone who has built a skyscraper of a career out of alienating female employees makes enough money that he could pay off my student loans 12,500 times. That’s a lot of culinary degrees.
And yes, I did the math.
What has come from this little news blip is that we’re seeing all of these women come out to say that they’ve been sexually harassed, abused, or worse, because we’ve been working with this thought that sexual abuse survivors are attention-seekers and overdramatic. What’s happening is people who have felt they have never had a voice, or maybe had their voice taken from them, are now getting the microphone.
This is important to me, and I hope to many other people, because with the power of a few women standing up and saying “this is not okay anymore”, we’re hearing a cheer from the bleachers. Other victims can see someone brave enough change the expected result to a result they deserve, and it feels powerful.
I know I preach an idyllic society and some may call me a wishful hippie. They’re right, but for entirely different reasons. I want to see this trend of feminism, of women fighting back, and of abusers being called on their vile behaviour grow. You should never be afraid to walk home from the pub because it’s dark. You shouldn’t be nervous to take too long putting your groceries in the car.
Did you know the grocery store is, statistically, the most likely place to be assaulted as a woman?
Of course you did, you’ve known that since you were little. Since you were young enough to look up self-defense moves in books (an age before computers — throwback, I know) and maybe look at signing up for a class at the YWCA.
This is just my experience and I’m generalizing, but I don’t know any female-identifying person that hasn’t felt like this once in their life. Once this month. Once this week.
As demonstrated by the media outpour we’re going through right now, which I like to call “Hell Yeah, Call Them On Their Bullshit”, people aren’t feeling this fear just when they’re out at night or shopping. This happens in workplaces, in homes and everywhere around you. No one should be afraid to say something because of this thought that you won’t be believed. Because it could damage your career, or your life in some way, if you came forward.
We make light of victims coming out to tell their stories, saying that now it’s a “trend”, or maybe they’re just looking for the press. This isn’t a light matter, this is someone having the bravery to step forward. It’s something that commands respect, if nothing else.
This is funny to me, I was coming at this blog-writing idea thinking that I was going to try to be some comic relief in a very serious world. Be the girl who works in legal weed and has some crazy, funny baggage.
Not so much, hey?
I can wax philosophical about opening your mind to new experiences and the effects of illness on a young psyche etc. etc. but this is the important stuff to me. This matters.
What drove me to write this blog post (at 2am, lit up by the light of my laptop, fuming to myself and my cat) was because I recently had plastic surgery on my chest due to previous cancer treatment. It’s a whole thing. However, I find myself laying here feeling sorry for myself because, as a single white female (knife emoji) I’m wondering how I’m ever going to be attractive to someone, or god forbid get married (the ultimate end goal for young women, amirite?), when I look like Frankenstein’s monster. Then it occurred to me…
Why do I care?
I’ve been raised in a society that has measured my worth by my waistline and my intelligence by how I dress. We’re no one’s property but our own and that’s something I’m coming to learn as I look toward my late 20s; I learn this by watching these women in the news calling out their abusers, holding them accountable to what they did and how they changed the way that woman looked in the mirror and woke up in the morning.
I’m hoping that this becomes the new normal. Hoping more than anything, because I don’t want to have a daughter some day that experiences some of the things I know happen in this world. In this city, for that matter. I walked six blocks at 1:00 a.m. a few Saturdays ago, after going for a drink with some friends. In that six blocks I was called fat twice, a slut once and told to get in some guy’s truck. They laugh with their friends and think nothing of it but, holy hell, the toll that takes on someone’s self-esteem. Now I know there’s going to be that one person saying “Well, how short was your dress?” “You shouldn’t have been alone that late at night.” or, my favourite, “They’re boys, they’re just having fun.”.
Here’s an idea:
How about instead of teaching people to dress more conservatively, take the long route home or to stop being so sensitive, how about we teach people not to be assholes to each other.
Real simple stuff.
To finish this much-heavier-than-I-expected rant, allow me to say:
Things like this happen to every person, of every gender, and life circumstance. They shouldn’t, but they do. So, when they’re ready, let them tell their story.
And maybe it’ll change one day.