Over the last week one of the biggest news stories was of the shooting in Santa Barbara, promoting the hashtag #YesAllWomen. It has become another debate about attitudes to women in Western society and the experiences they have in a male orientated world -experiences which men are seemingly oblivious to and quick to point out that it’s #NotAllMen.
If course it isn’t all men, but as many have pointed out, it certainly is all women who have experienced harassment or abuse or fear at the hands of men. I have had numerous encounters with men who cannot take no for an answer except if another man is involved. I’ve been stopped in the street and expected to give my number to a complete stranger. When you’re minding your own business on your way home and a man tells you you’re attractive, you thank him and try to walk on, but he follows, asking if you want to go out, if you’re single, where you’re going. And then for your number.
I used to give it, not because I wanted to, but because I was socialised into believing that this was a complement. I was lucky to be receiving attention and therefore felt incredibly bad for rejecting him. It’s not a complement, to be accosted and followed and followed. In a conversion with a friend I heard the usual ‘so where are you supposed to meet people then?’
The idea that she tried to justify the behaviour with that argument is confusing-how many times had anybody seen it being done the other way around? Not often. Why is it that women can restrain themselves to social situations but it is expected that men can’t?
Watching Laci Green’s videos on these topics has really opened my eyes. Watch it:
Women are consistently portrayed as objects, lesser than men, and not taken as seriously. I really believe that lots of women aren’t even aware of it, or say they aren’t feminists because it’s almost a dirty word these days, or don’t want to be seen as an uptight vagina getting her knickers in a twist over nothing. The response to any outrage in relation to equality for women is often ‘calm down dear'(quoted from Prime Minister David Cameron), as if inequalities don’t exist.
Again, this leads us to the problem of portrayal of women in the media. I recently saw an advert similar to this:
I was completely shocked that this was on television before realising we are fed this stuff all the time. Women are fed the lie that we are unattractive to men in our natural bodies, and that we should strive to be what society has told men they should want in a woman- hairless, bony and caked in makeup. We can only take natural pictures of ourselves to aid cancer, and it’s considered a brave thing to do- to bear our hideous, unpainted faces to the world.
The one thing I don’t often hear women say is : I’m completely confident in myself and my appearance, regardless of what anybody else says.’ Women are not allowed to say that (as demonstrated by Samantha Brick) and we are never allowed to feel beautiful for ourselves rather than for the men we are supposed to please.
I am 20. I did not post a ‘no make-up selfie’ (nor do I wear makeup every day), I shave when I feel like it, wear what I want and I no longer give out my number.
I am completely confident in myself as a person and my appearance, regardless of what anybody else says. I am not here to satisfy the opposite sex, I am not a lesser being, I do not owe anybody anything (except my mother, she gave birth to me) and I will not let society make me believe otherwise.