Thoughts about sexual assault
Why are so many women coming forward all at once?
That is a question many people ponder when hearing that so many people are coming forward with sexual allegations. After Harvey Weinstein, so many people came forward with allegations, which triggered something in us to make a change.
We are getting a little braver, a little stronger, and our voices are becoming clearer when we state what we have endured. Our society has always been about strength in numbers; when one person speaks out, the next is less afraid to do the same. We are afraid of being unheard if we speak alone. Our society is built not to listen to one woman who says she has been sexually assaulted, but to listen to ten, thirty, or even fifty people who speak up and then finally, something clicks; our society listens. It seems as though the more we talk about it, the more familiar it feels. We listen to one another, and it seems that more often than not, the listeners will not only nod, they will know. As unfortunate as it is, many people have encountered sexual harassment. We hear about it mainly coming from Hollywood, but when Senator Al Franken was accused, it hit home for many.
It is important to speak up if there have been unwanted sexual advancements placed on you or anyone you know. To share your own story may help other victims feel more comfortable speaking out. Some may stay silent about it because they are simply afraid. They live in fear of ruining someone else’s career or their own. They are afraid no one is going to believe or listen to them. On the contrary, it is also brave to be silent; to wake up every day and live with what happened. People should not feel the need to disclose themselves and their stories to find comfort. However, expecting every victim to speak up is unjust. It is not necessarily about what or whom it’s happened to, but simply that we put a stop to it altogether. How we have grown to talk about things has also changed. Social media has been our best dream and worst nightmare. It has allowed us to be vocal, be heard, and stay strong. It allows us to discuss inequality, and it makes us feel that we are being heard, whether we are or not. Letting us know that there are not only listeners, but there are other sufferers may be all we need to get by.
What is it like being an American woman?
Although there are men who get sexually assaulted, 90 percent of adult rape victims are female, according to RAINN. 1 out of every 6 American women has been a victim of attempted rape.
I squirm uncomfortably in my chair trying to explain in ways you will understand what it feels like to be an American woman in American society today. It is not an easy thing to discuss, and it’s hard putting words together to complete the puzzle.
We live in a society that tells us to follow our dreams, but we aren’t told how hard it will be to achieve those dreams. Being a female…this is easy to relate to; society paints a clear example of what we can and cannot do as a woman. We are supposed to eat, but not too much. We are suppose to dress a certain way, not too revealing because we are asking for it, but not too conservatively because then something is wrong with us. We feel so pressured to fit in, but at the same time, we feel pressured to be unique. This double standard is something that is merely impossible to meet.
Being a woman in society comes with feeling like a target. Being a girl, your mom will overly prepare you for the “real world.” She will purchase pepper spray or even sign you up for self-defense class. However, moms will rarely do this for their sons, and it’s not our parents we should blame but the society we live in.
A woman is not to act too masculine otherwise she is not viewed as a real woman. This is something that both men and women can relate to. If you are interested in something other than that of the norm, society says you should feel ashamed. You shouldn’t.
A woman is supposed to be a primary care giver to her family, and if she is not, she doesn’t care about her kids or her family. However, this is not the case; I grew up in small town Sartell where many kids’ moms were stay-at-home moms. Don’t get me wrong, these mothers were very bright, strong, loving, caring, wholesome people, however they did not always agree with what my mother chose to do. Even though my mom was a working mom doesn’t mean she was less involved with my life. To create an image that women should be primary care givers is very unlikely in today’s society. I have the utmost respect for women who stay home and for women who have full time jobs, but I do not love my mom any differently because she did decide to work. My point is we should not push against each other for deciding how to function our lives differently, but celebrating and encouraging all women is the answer.
A women’s body is often sexually objectified, which leads us to believe that we have to look a certain way. There are so many ways in which women are directed and shown “how to be a women,” as if there is some kind of manual we have to follow. I see nothing wrong with celebrating the female body in all its variations of beauty.
At a certain point, it all becomes too much. We eventually burst and get so angry that we can’t take it anymore. Just so I can be clear, it is not impossible to smash perceptions of women. We are on the rise, but we have a long way to go. It is clear that women need more than just women to fight for equality. Men and women – together – can crush the stereotypes set upon us by society.