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:
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.