OPINION: While women’s history is celebrated the present is bleak, but the future is bright
Opinions Editor speaks about women’s history and power, photo courtesy of Pixabay.
The safety and livelihoods of women should not just be a social media movement with the backdrop of Women’s History Month.
March seems to have drawn women’s issue to the forefront of everyone’s Twitter timelines as of late. It could be that Women’s History month– a time for celebrating women’s achievements of the past– has made these issues more visible, but they have always been there.
Women’s History Month, along with every month going forward, should also be a time for addressing gender inequalities and moving towards progress.
The greatest thing that we need to get our minds wrapped around is accountability. There have been so many news stories just this month that demand accountability.
One that sparked women on Twitter to share their personal fears and experiences was the death of Sarah Everand in the UK. A police officer has been arrested for the kidnapping and murder of the 33-year-old.
While the police were still searching for Everand, Twitter blew up with threads on how to protect yourself if you are a woman walking alone at night like Everand.
Some of the Tweets included changing settings on your iPhone to alert police by pressing the lock button five times, a feature called EmergencyOS.
Twitter was captivated by Everand’s disappearance because every woman knew that it could just as well have been their own name trending. Women shared their own personal stories of stalking, assault, harassment and rape.
Alarming statistics surfaced about these sorts of attacks.
In the U.S. in 2019, 63 percent of murders were committed by men according to the FBI. An older statistic from the 2002 Violence Against Women Report found that 99 percent of rapes are perpetrated by men.
Following Everand’s disappearance and death, UN Women released a survey showing that 97 percent of UK women questioned have experienced sexual harassment.
This new crop of social media activism has been met with a disappointing, but expected, countermovement: #NotAllMen. This hashtag originated a few years ago and made its rounds during the MeToo Movement. Similar to All Lives Matter, Not All Men is a tone-deaf and pathetic defense to the suffering of women.
It’s past exhaustive to explain that no, not all men are harming women. No one is saying that every single man in the world is a predator. The fact remains, however, that all women fear all men because it’s impossible to judge whether or not the man down the sidewalk is going to harm you or if your good friend is going to take advantage of you.
Trust holds no water with issues like these, considering eight out of ten rapes are committed by someone the victims know.
Not all men are assaulting, stalking, raping or murdering women, but, evident by the perpetuation of the issue, many men are complicit. Not committing violent crimes against women is not enough. Men have to step up to join forces wth women to stop these violent crimes for male, female, and nonbinary victims. This starts with holding perpetrators accountable.
We have to commit to calling out precursory behavior, including that of our friends. Mental health crises can play a major role in violent crimes, and we need to destigmatize seeking support for these individuals. Accountability has to reach everyone, even those at the top of society.
Creating exceptions for public figures has set a poor example for everyone else. I am aware that this dips into the touchy subject of cancel culture, but it is essential to talking about women’s issues.
Cancel culture can go too far, but in most cases, I find it extremely difficult to balance the ruining of someone’s career with the ruining of a victim’s life with a horrible assault. The prior just does not measure up.
Victims have to be taken seriously. We have seen victims be shamed time and time again, but we have the opportunity to change this narrative. When sexual harassment allegations arise, like those swarming New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, it is our responsibilty as a society to investigate and hold perpetrators accountable.
It’s hard to be so aware of these perpetuating issues happening to women. When the MeToo Movement happened a few years ago, I thought that the women of the world were onto something.
Three years later, not much has changed in the way of women’s safety, rights and support. Girls are taught from such a young age that we have to change to protect ourselves in this world. I think that it is about time that the world starts changing to protect us.
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