So the YesAllWomen hashtag has gathered speed again. After Emma Watson’s amazing speech at the UN last weekend, she’s been bombarded with threats in an attempt to intimidate her into shutting the fuck up. The threats were a hoax. OK. But rather than highlighting a dodgy issue, here (and it is seriously dodgy), it rather reinforced the stereotype. Woman speaks out – gets threatened with nude picture leaks / rape / death. It was expected, or at least it should have been expected, that Ms Watson would receive these kinds of threats. That says rather a lot about today’s society, and none of what it says is good.
My own participation in the YesAllWomen hashtag, when it was newly created, resulted in me getting rape and death threats, and this time a troll has told me my opinions don’t count because women have the same rights as men. If this were true, we wouldn’t be having this conversation in the first place. The very fact that so many women are speaking out against misogyny, and a good number of men, too, puts the lie to the whole ‘But what have Western women got to complain about?’ question.
Shall I tell you what women in the West have to complain about? Do you really want a fucking list? Fine. You can have a fucking list.
As it stands, girls are born with an immediate disadvantage. We do not possess a penis. In some countries (China is the obvious example), boys are prized over girls (who are often aborted or killed at birth or abandoned). Boys can carry on the family name, and that’s considered important. OK, fine, it is. Everyone wants to think their family line will continue on indefinitely. But names are a cultural phenomenon, not an inherent part of being human. We invented names in order to identify ourselves, to distinguish ourselves from one another and therefore function in an ordered society. A name is just a word. It’s ourselves who have imbued those names with such deep significance. Conclusion: girls are just as important as boys. (Something too many people ‘forget’ is that without girls, there would be no boys. But those who do remember and still remain misogynists seem to believe that’s all we’re good for.)
It is still dangerous for us to walk the streets alone, no matter the time of day. Even in places where I feel relatively safe, I am constantly on my guard. One incident that stands out in recent memory is of me walking along the road, massive coat, shopping bags. A car drives past and a bloke yells out the window (at me, there was no one else near me): “WHORE!” So he shouted. The car didn’t stop. I wasn’t physically assaulted. The problem is that this man thought it was OK to do that, simply because I’m a woman. I have news for him. IT’S NOT. Him shouting that at me reveals a few things. He’s a coward – would he say it to my face if he weren’t in the safety of his car? He thinks women are sex objects who are useful for nothing else. He thinks women are on this planet purely for men’s use. He is insecure – he felt the need to shout this at me to boost his floundering ego. He is an arsehole.
We are expected not only to accept sexist jokes, but to laugh at them. If we call people out on it, we get labelled the crazy feminist. But jokes are supposed to be funny (forgive me if I’ve got this wrong – I don’t always know what’s funny and what’s not – after all, I’m only a woman). This makes it hard to speak out, especially if the person who has made the ‘joke’ is a friend who you know is generally (and genuinely) a decent guy. I’ve bitten my tongue so often in those situations that it’s a wonder I have one left at all. Why should I bite my tongue? Why should I not call people out on sexism? It’s just a joke, love, lighten up! Fuck you.
Women are expected to be beautiful. Throughout history, we have put ourselves out to make ourselves attractive. Who for? Men. Why? So they will want to have sex with us. But what if I don’t want you to have sex with me? I dress mainly for comfort, but when I do dress up, for a special occasion or just because I feel like it, I don’t do it for anyone else. I do it for me. Footbinding, corset-wearing, plastic surgery, breast implants (less so reductions), stiletto heels, make-up, anti-ageing products (you really don’t want to get me started on that one)… not to mention various eating disorders. Why do we do this to ourselves? So we can be validated by men? What the fuck? Remember – just because I’ve made an effort to look good, it doesn’t necessarily follow that I’ve made that effort for you. The default assumption is that I’ve made the effort for me.
Boybands are marketed to girls – the PR people use sex, so girls will want to fuck them. Girlbands are also marketed to girls, either by the use of ‘girl power’ or by being feminine (under the guise of girl power). The reason this works is because girls are not taught to be afraid of our emotions (but there’s hell to pay if, as adults, we get “over”-emotional). This is very Freudian, using sex to sell music (I hesitate to call it music, but technically, that’s what it is). Boys are not sold girlbands. They’re sold harder music, with (very often) questionable lyrics, which do what? Objectify women. And what message does this convey? Women exist for their pleasure, and they have a right to fuck them. This has to stop. Although I can’t see that happening any time soon.
We should not have to be on full alert if a man follows us into a lift. He may just be needing to use the lift. Mostly, that is the case. But what if he has another reason?
I have lost count of the number of times random men on the street have told me to ‘cheer up’ or ‘smile.’ It makes me feel I must look miserable, even if I’m not. But even if I am, what the fuck has it got to do with you? You don’t know me. Leave me alone.
There are women who say they’re not afraid, they don’t put their guard up, why are so many so frightened? They are lying. Or they are delusional. The YesAllWomen hashtag highlights a very real issue. We live in a patriarchal society that values men and boys above women and girls. And it’s time that stopped.