A fascinating conversation is happening on social media under the #YesAllWomen tag. (See here and here for a snapshot.) Reading the experiences of others is both comforting (“You carry pepper spray when you go for runs, too? I’m not the only one?”) and disturbing (“I can’t believe someone else has to endure this bullshit!”). The conversation is also empowering, lending courage and strength to voices previously silent. Like mine…
I was raped. I was also sexually assaulted. These aren’t experiences I share lightly because I anticipate judgment from others. In part, I still wrestle with judgment from myself, 15 years later. I over-analyze every detail, wondering where I signaled that it was acceptable to treat me that way… when I doubt either man ever gave it a second thought.
Most of my female friends have known what it means to fear a man at some point in their lives–be it from verbal, physical, or sexual abuse; assault; rape; or harassment. Some have experienced this fear multiple times over. Some experience it today.
These things stay with you, in small ways or large ones, forever. Sometimes, they echo louder than any positive gesture ever could.
It’s not about feminism, sexism, or any other kind of -ism. It’s about human beings. Similarly, men experience these things, too. Again, it’s about human beings–not gendered beings. No one should have to live in the threat of or experience violence.
These acts happen every day, hour, and minute. They could be happening to someone you care about right now.
What are you doing to help fight the good fight?