Can we please stop denying the extent of sexism and sexual harassment within our society ?

Over the last few weeks, in the wake of a tide of accusations of sexual harassment, what has shocked me the most is not the number of accusations but the number of people who appear to find the number of women coming forward shocking or unbelievable.

I find this staggering because I hear of, witness and personally experience different levels of this each day ranging from every day “casual” sexism to harassment.

The number of women I know who have experienced this or can share a personal story completely outweighs those who can’t. So why do we remain shocked and feel that these women are “jumping on the bandwagon?”

I’ve had a number of conversations on this topic. I wish to express my opinions, for what they are worth, on some common reactions I’ve heard over the last few weeks.

I’m just getting so tired of hearing all these accusations from women.”

Well, as a society, wouldn’t it be better if we were so tired of hearing about women being harassed each day, tired enough to take action and stamp out this behaviour.

I’d rather us be so tired of telling women to protect themselves and not to put themselves in vulnerable situations, enough to stop the endless victim shaming and teach our young men what is acceptable and what isn’t.

“What, are men not allowed to flirt with women now?

If you don’t know the difference between consensual flirtation and harassment I’d be very concerned.

However, if in doubt, perhaps don’t touch somebody or move beyond polite and appropriate conversation unless you’ve established some kind of report or relationship with them.

Everyone experiences intimacy differently and has different boundaries :a touch of the hand for someone may mean something completely different to another.

Context is everything.

I’ve had to leave numerous nights out with my friends following being consistently harassed; touched, groped, leered at, crude comments thrown my way, refusing to back away from my personal space, pulling my arm down the street when I’m trying to walk away, being followed and shouted at.

It’s intimidating, it’s completely devaluing every woman I know has experienced this exact same thing to varying degrees.

This has happened to your sister, or your mother, or your wife, or your daughter.

Would you tell them to just “take a joke?” Or that they were asking for it?

“Women ARE equal, and I don’t want to be treated the same as a man anyway”.

I don’t want to be treated the same as a man either, trust me.

But I want to be given the very same opportunities, should I wish to, on an equal footing, based on my knowledge, experience, skills and ability.

I want the same choices and the same chances.

And, really importantly, I want the same respect.

I’ve experienced, as have many:

  • Being assumed to be taking the minutes of a meeting or a secretary
  • Being told not to be so “bossy” or “fiesty”
  • Being asked “why I’m so dolled up?”
  • Being told to “smile love”
  • Being told to “try not to get emotional” when presenting an argument

Now, these things aren’t offensive and I wouldn’t mind this so much if my male counterparts in the room were subject to the same level of bullshit. But they aren’t. That’s not equality. And therein lies the issue.

Don’t think anything I’ve shared above is shocking? Think what I’m talking about is trivial?

That’s because you’ve become completely desensitised to this behaviour and accept it a the way things just are

. “I hate feminism.”

You hate the fact that women and men are fighting for women to be treated as individual human beings with the same opportunities and respect afforded to our male counterparts?Is this the world you want our daughters to grow up in? We should all be feminists.

Ladies, please stop contributing to our own oppression.Please be shocked that harassment is still happening and that sexism and sexual oppression still occurs this day in age- NOT because women finally feel empowered to talk about their experiences.

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Can we please stop denying the extent of sexism and sexual harassment within our society ?

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