So we’ve come to the end of this year’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence. When I made the commitment to my contribution this year it pained me to realise how easy it was to find 16 examples of how gender based violence is constricting the lives of women across the world. Whether it is in terms of street harassment, sexual aggression, verbal harassment or unwanted sexual advances it is evident that we live in a perversely unequal world.
The element of control in which patriarchy rests on has led us to believe that women are creatures devoid of sexual desire, agency, voice and the ability to determine the development of their own lives. The pervasive notions which denote femininity with purity and virginity are putting women’s lives at risk who are unwilling to comply with such sexist and misogynistic norms. The entire ‘she’s asking for it’ tagline rests on the idea that violence against women is utterly fair game if the assailant determines that she doesn’t live up to such bullshit standards.
Apparently we also live in a world in which a man has every right to shout abuse, sexual innuendos, vile harassment and instructions to ‘smile’ at women how they see and please in all public environments. As if as a woman it is our sole purpose to exist to please a man, any man, with our smiling, attractive faces which do not display any complex emotions; because let’s be honest, we are not capable of any such complexity. What I’ve come to understand that in this world which is ruled by male entitlement women are sexual objects to be ogled at, groped, grabbed and robbed of their dignity – all to appease a man’s measurements of his own misconceived machismo.
I’ve also learnt that the easiest way to reign in a ‘troublesome’ woman is to label her a slut, a ho, a hussy, a floozy, a whore and point out that ‘she sleeps around’ in order to ruin her reputation and thus limit her life options. I’ve uncovered that victim blaming is the go-to state after the fall out of a sexual assault by which a woman’s state of dress and her sexual history are put under the microscope first. I mean can you imagine questioning why a man committed sexual violence in the first place as opposed to telling a woman that she was asking for it because she was wearing that skirt?!
The irony of all of this is not lost on me. The prevalence of violence against women is pervasive. Whether it be physical, emotional or sexual in nature it exists by virtue of the fact that we are women living in a ‘man’s world’. We have been attributed with second class citizenry in spite of the equity of our abilities. But the power game is not one which is zero-sum. So FYI – no we are not trying to take over the world. No, us ‘feminazis’ are not looking to castrate all men and subjugate them into nothingness. What we are seeking in our fight is for the ability to not fear for our lives, for our reputations, for our careers due to the aggressiveness and pack mentality of which the predominant form of masculinity currently rests on.
We envision an equal world in which phrases like ‘boys will boys and girls will be sluts’ does not exist. We foresee an existence in which girls are free to express their sexual desires and wield freedom in their sex lives without being labelled a gender biased derogatory term. We view a world which values the contribution of both men and women on equal terms and imagine an existence free of gender based violence, intimate partner and domestic violence, sexual harassment, rape and gang rape. So I ask you, once more as I did at the beginning of the #16Days, is the universal concept of freedom and equality of women too much to ask for?
To my strong, resilient, capable and diverse sisters out there reading these words – please do not lost heart. Remember to resist the misogyny, empower each other, rise to the fight and transform the world around you. The future is female, that I assure you.
End. – Day 16.