Thursday, May 29, 2014

No means no. No exceptions. No Caveats.








I have held off reading the #YesAllWomen tweets because, to be honest, I'm outrage fatigued.  If I'm to be totally honest, I'm actually "feminist outrage" fatigued.   It seems every second day there is something for feminists to be outraged about and Twitter seems to provide the fuel for flaming the outrage fire.  Being outraged all the time is tiring and if that is what it takes to be a feminist, well I guess you could say my apathy far outweighs my desire to fight for equality, that and I tend to verge on the side of lazy when I'm not at work.  Cute kitten pictures and witty quotes are more my thing.

This morning I felt it would be safe to have a look, and given that I work in the media, I really should know what's going on.  By now the outrage fire should be nothing more than smouldering embers.  I was wrong.

The tweets are still strong and filled with feeling and intent.  Usually I'm bored or tired of the issue after reading twenty tweets of people saying the same thing, but these are different to the usual Twitter outrage.  They speak a long silent truth.  They reflect what I feel deep down in side.  They make me sad.  They make me mad.   They make me think and look at myself.

I have never jumped on the feminist bandwagon because I truly believe I'm not one and that men and women are fundamentally different in all ways and I kind of like that.  I like a man opening a door for me.  I like a man who steps back and lets me go first and I like a man who feels he needs to protect me.   I also believe that if my husband is working hard all day he deserves to come home to a cooked meal if I'm home before him.   I also don't mind the occasional wolf whistle, so surely I can't be a feminist?  That's my fluffy pink slippers view of feminism.

Before you all hang me out to dry ... deep down I know these things aren't what fundamental feminism is all about ... I don't want to think about the real reasons because it's too close to me.  I would have to think about things I have long packed away.   I would feel like I need to be involved, need to speak up and need to be doing something.

After reading the #YesAllWomen tweets, I actualy felt like I was betraying the sisterhood by doing and saying nothing.  By holding onto my quaint, fluffy, beliefs I keep myself safe ... out of the fray, it's easier.  But it really isn't.
 
Two tweets made me stop breathing.  Two tweets forced me to think hard about what I really believe and what being a feminist was all about.  

The first tweet that stopped me in my tracks was this one ... 


And how true. 

There are different types of rape ... it's not only rape because a woman is violently forced to have sex by a stranger who attacks her on the way home in the dark.   If a woman does not want a man to touch her or have sex with her and he does ... it is rape.  All rape is rape.  No matter what the situation.  Sadly so many women live with rape, some every single day, and never report it. 

Rapes often occur after a night of drinking, dancing and perhaps flirting.   How many women wake up after one of these nights knowing they were forced or felt obliged to have sex?  This is rape.  

As women we've been conditioned to question ourselves about these situations ... somehow it had to be our fault.  "Was my dress too short?"  "I wore a g-string, that must mean I'm asking for it?" "I let him kiss me, I sent a signal I wanted more?"  "I let him up for a coffee - I only wanted coffee, but I probably sent the wrong signal?" "I've had numerous one night stands (on my terms) and if I reported him they wouldn't believe me because of my history?"  "I was too drunk?"  "I was too high?" "I was flirting with him all night?"  "He paid for my drinks, I guess I owed him?" 

When a rape of this type is reported, I wonder how many of the accused perpetrators say "she was asking for it?".  How often did you hear that phrase as you were growing up?  "Don't go out dressed like that, boys will think you are loose."  "Look how short that skirt is, she's just asking for it dressed like that!"  "It doesn't surprise me that she was raped, she was always flirting with the boys, she was asking for it."  And surprisingly, it wasn't only the men who said this.

What about marital rape?  How many women live day to day in marriages where they are forced to have sex?  It might not be violent force, but it can be emotional force.  A sense of entitlement by some husbands.  How many women go into the bathroom afterwards and silently cry as they clean themselves up, to come back to bed and sleep with their husbands?  How many women say "I just do it because it's easier than saying no"?  How many women truly believe this and how many men make them feel this way?

How many sexually abused children never speak out because they blame themselves?  How many wait until they are an adult before they feel like they can talk about it?  How many are not believed by family members when they finally do speak up?  How many find themselves on trial, trying to prove the type of person they are, rather than the person who allegedly committed the crimes?  Woody Allen's step daughter for example, whose situation really upsets me.  It's not about Woody Allen having to prove he didn't do it ... it's about her having to prove he did.   It was the same for Sarah Monahan and Robert Hughes (now convicted) and now the Rolf Harris trial.

No one wants to think that a man they love or gave birth to could be capable of doing such things.  We always want to see those we love and care about in nothing but the best light, which is a perfectly normal, but for the women involved in these cases ... a grave injustice.

This was the second tweet rocked me to my core: 

So do I.  My sons should be reading these tweets.  I should be ensuring they understand that no means no ... no exceptions.   Have I been vigilant in teaching my boys this?  I'd like to think so, but I have never laboured the point and therefore don't think I've given this as much attention as I should have.  I've spoken more about a man should not hit a woman and less about the different types of rape.  

As each generation passes the next generation is better informed, more understanding, but we still have a long way to go.  

It really is up to us ... right now ... the mothers and father of sons, to teach our boys to respect women.  To instill in them that a woman owns her body and a man has absolutely no right to it unless she invites him to - and by invite it means she say yes ... without coercion.  It is as simple as that.  No exceptions.  No caveats. 

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8 comments:

  1. I've lost several hours over the last few days to reading the #YesAllWomen tweets. I started reading because I do identify as a feminist and it saddens me that so many women seem to think that is a dirty word. I think that most women who claim not to be feminists actually are, when you dive into what they actually believe about how women should be treated in society. I read tweet after tweet yesterday in the #YesAllWomen stream, and what held me the most were not the strong rape tweets that you highlighted. These are absolutely a huge concern, but maybe because of articles and law cases I've read over the years, I'm somewhat familiar with the way that society marginalises rape victims. What held my attention were the more insidious things and feelings that as women we have to deal with every single day. That small sense of alarm when you are alone in an elevator with a strange man, or alone on a dark street and see a figure approaching. The fact that we are taught as teenagers to guard our drinks at parties or bars, or how it's normal for women to text friends to let them know they got home safe because... you know. Men don't need to do that - they don't promise to text when they get home, or call their friend in the taxi cab just to be on the phone to someone so the taxi driver doesn't get any weird ideas. As women we are always on guard. That's what the #YesAllWomen tweets highlight for me, and THAT'S what I find the most exhausting thing.

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    1. Those ones really got to me too ... I was going to mention them but felt my post was getting a bit rambly. I'm glad I finally read the tweets - I'm sure there's loads more I haven't seen. xxx

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    2. It's a great post too, on the rape issue and the point about raising sons. I should have mentioned that xx

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  2. Feminism is about men and women, the masculine and the feminine, living in partnership, about a society based on equality and partnership, not dominance and war. We need to be outraged, very outraged, because nothing is going to change if we're not.

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  3. It's a great post ,Feminism is about men and women, the masculine and the feminine, living in partnership, about a society based on equality and partnership

    ReplyDelete
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Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me x

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