Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Sexual assault -- when society turns its back on women

I was only twelve when a person invaded my personal space. I had been at the beginning phase of puberty and had overly sensitive chest at the time. I recall being confused and scared, not understanding why a young man, almost in the middle of his twenties, would want to do such things to a little girl. I was young and innocent and cannot remember wearing anything that would suggest that I wished to be fondled with, yet that's exactly what happened. If anyone, at the time, had told me that this was my fault, I probably would have believed them because, surely, I must have brought something like that upon myself by merely being naive.

Most times, some males (especially those I've been in discussions with in the past) tend to think that women are on the lookout for equality when it comes to things men are deemed physically stronger at doing [insert tasks here if you will]. But I look at gender equality from an emotional standpoint. What do I mean by that? I feel that women are, sometimes, automatically ignored for their views because of the very fact that they're women. In some cultures they are trained to ignore being oppressed because that's "what a woman is supposed to do", to keep quiet and to endure, even when she is being unfairly treated. They learn to blame themselves for things like rape and infidelity, trying to figure out exactly where they went wrong to be caught up in such situations. I've heard stories about young girls being raped within communities and then asked to keep quiet by their own mothers because the males who raped them are in highly reputable positions, and speaking up might not only ruin the reputation of those males but the way people look at the young girls who are victims of rape. What a sad reality!

I was watching a YouTube video the other day. It was about a young woman who had experienced being raped in the past. One thing she said, that I really value and agree with, was something along the lines of, "No one should feel that they're entitled to invade your personal space without your consent, regardless!" You will always have certain males who validate a woman being raped by stating sh** like, "Well, she put herself in that position because of what she was wearing." But, the way someone dresses is not a lawful excuse for men to act like beasts. If it were so, then thieves would probably be able to use the same excuse when they steal from stores, "Well, they put themselves in that position. It's not my fault that they had such expensive things on display," or an excuse sex offenders would use when adults let their children play outside. "Well, you should start locking up children in the house if you want strangers to stop sexually abusing them."

I don't think men who pull their shirts off whilst playing football in the heat, or on a regular hot summer day, are asking to be raped. But, if that isn't the initial thought when seeing a shirtless man, why is it the initial response when seeing a woman in a short skirt? Males have been raping women for centuries, they just feel they have a "better" excuse to use now -- women wearing slightly more revealing clothes.

When I think about gender equality, I feel the social, political and financial aspects of society should be taken into consideration as well. I feel a woman whose husband is being unfaithful shouldn't be forced to stay in such a marriage and, if she decides to leave, shouldn't be looked down upon for deciding to leave. I also feel that a man who sleeps around should be labeled with the exact same tag a woman receives when she does, rather than being praised for it as though it's an achievement. A woman's opinions are just as valid as a man's and she should not be shunned for speaking up about any issues, even those concerning both genders. I also believe a woman's place is not in the kitchen, but that she plays an important part in all areas of society and should be respected for the contributions she makes, great or small.

A lot of the things we experience today is mostly due to culture and, although we still have a long way to go with gender equality, change is a constant thing (even in culture) and, working hard enough, we can bring about even the slightest of changes. As Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie so rightly stated in her speech, We Should all be Feminists, "Culture does not make people, people make culture."