THE past few days, my FB timeline was peppered with status updates of the hashtag “#MeToo”. Reports indicate that in a span of 24 hours, this hashtag has been re-tweeted on Twitter alone almost
half-a-million times. “#Me Too” has evolved to become a media campaign in showing how widespread and rampant sexual harassment is in women. This campaign has filled social media channels with a multitude of stories regarding the depressing realities of pervasive sexual assault.
This comes in the light of the recent Harvey Weinstein scandal. He is a high profile Hollywood executive, who has been accused by more than 40 actresses of sexual harassment (with some stories even alleging rape) for him to give them meaty roles in the movies he produces.
The explosive NY Times piece that broke out Weinstein’s story detailed allegations of unwanted physical contact with women going back decades. Some of the A-list stars who have spoken against him include: Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan, Angelina Jolie, and Gwyneth Paltrow (among
Having strong famous people speak up against this gross form of injustice has inspired many other women to come out and share their own harrowing stories of brutality in the hands of men in their own tweets or status updates. Then the realization comes in: most women have practically, at one point or another, been at a receiving end of unwarranted attention.
Imagine, wives mothers, daughters, and sisters are all wearing the unwanted “#MeToo” badge. The violation to their femininity and person just comes in varying degrees and forms—catcalled, groped, threatened, harassed, assaulted, and/or the worst, raped. Boys are not just being
boys when they do not clearly understand the word NO.
Some people say that speaking out belatedly against abuse is questionable. Why do women not immediately speak up the moment these attacks happen? Wouldn’t it have made more sense to call the
authorities straight away? And there are others who even have the audacity to say that some girls deserve it because they are dressed in outfits that are too revealing… “You’re asking for it!”
Just a quick scan through the comments section of articles related to this incident would immediately reveal why women remain quiet. The amount of bashing and victim-blaming leaves a very sour taste in the mouth. How harshly some people judge without even knowing the full story! I wonder why it is so much easier to find fault in the victims and not the men who prey on them.
Yes, women should speak out, but sometimes it is hard to find your voice especially when you have been beaten and silenced by a predatory dominant male. Here are some reasons why some women choose to keep quiet (definitely not an exhaustive list because this is limited by my
It is mortifying to retell dirty sordid details in public, as it makes the victim feel like she’s reliving her ordeal all over again. Everything must be retold because authorities will ask questions, including intimate details of insidious nature that a victim just wants to forget. Although what transpired is not her fault, a victim of assault often faces feelings of guilt and shame.
Will people believe them?
If a victim has not been quick to get medically examined, it becomes a he said/ she said story. If the man is in a position of extreme power, people are quick to say the girl is just out to destroy the guy. Or worse: the girl is merely hurling accusations because she needs attention. No one wants to be accused of fabricating a rape story.
Security is threatened
Due to unceasing questions, a victim may feel even more threatened and afraid. What’s even more terrible is when one is being harassed by a boss. Sexual harassment in the workplace is a serious problem, which most are ill-prepared to deal with because no one wants to lose their
livelihood and source of income. It is hard to live with scandal, damaged reputation, and threat of a career loss. This issue certainly brings to light many fearful concerns.
What can we do?
A clear understanding of the definition of healthy relationships, discussion of sexual issues, and pointing out issues of gender roles should start right at the home. For example: quash the patriarchal concept seeing women as the weaker sex because it is a manifestation and means for ensuring female subordination. Women should be loved, not used or abused like sexual objects. Parents also need to teach kids that any form of violence and aggression is unacceptable.
As a parent, these are the things I consider for my children because I don’t want my sons to be one of those guys; and I don’t want my daughter to be one of those victims. Of course, I want them safe! More than that, I want them to treat others well and contribute positively to society.
I do what I can to inculcate good values. I also pray for my kids to make the right choices. I’ve raised my girl to always be confident, to be secure, and to never be afraid to speak and fight for what is right. I teach my boys to respect boundaries and understand that no really means that. No ifs and buts! I’ve also raised my boys to be gentlemen, and I teach my daughter to expect nothing less.
The people who assault others seem to do so in order to assert/confirm a distorted sense of their own self through dominance. Let’s raise our children well so they would never have to exert this dominance over anybody else.
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Published in the SunStar Cagayan de Oro newspaper on October 22, 2017.