“I do not wish them [women] to have power over men; but over themselves.”
― Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
Someone online wrote that #YesAllWomen is dying out because “people are running out of creative stories to tell in support of it”. Well, here are 18 reasons why #YesAllWomen must keep going.
1. Because when I was in college, two men on a motorbike thought it would be fun to race past me really close when I was riding a scooter. They hit my scooter, and it and I went skidding across a busy bridge. I had a broken ankle, several bloody wounds, and was just lucky not to be run over by another vehicle approaching behind me. When people found out, this is what they had to say:
‘You came back late to the hostel the previous night. Those men must have followed you. That’s why the accident happened.’
‘Where were you going? To a play rehearsal? Girls from good families don’t act in plays.’
‘Why were you out in the first place? You should have just stayed in your hostel and studied like a “good girl”.’
It took me six months to walk normally again. The scars from the wounds are still visible on my arms and legs. If not for the helmet I always wore, my jaw and head would have been smashed – my helmet got several dents from my fall. There was no police report and they were never caught, because no one noticed them. No, it was no accident. They tried to run me off the road because it was fun for them to intimidate a woman. And no, none of it was my fault.
2. Because no woman deserves to live in fear or die because she uses her right to say no.
3. Because the other day I was watching Sherlock Holmes on BBC and a woman was the “fetcher”. She fetches files, stands by looking pretty in a business suit and fetches the coat for the man. Why are women always the “fetcher” in most media representations? She fetches food, she fetches clothes, she fetches papers, her only role to serve others. What’s worse is that it’s so common, we hardly notice it or take offence to it. I’m sick of it. Aren’t you?
4. Because it doesn’t matter whether you are rich or poor, whether you are a celebrity or an ordinary person, what race you belong to, what’s the colour of your skin, whether or not you are “pretty”, what clothes you wear or which country you live in, if you are a woman, you have experienced harassment or abuse in some form. What does that say about the world we live in?
Proof: When Kate Middleton’s skirt flies up because of the wind, the paparazzi, waiting like vultures, snap a photo of her bare bottom, and sell the picture. Magazines print it “because people want to see it and it sells”. So how is this different from porn? It’s just as exploitative. Selling parts of a woman’s body as if that’s all she is – a sum of parts with nothing more to her. And some woman actually wrote an article online, suggesting Kate Middleton should change her wardrobe choices so this doesn’t happen again! Blaming the woman’s clothes for opportunistic, soulless people taking advantage of her vulnerable situation – sounds oddly familiar doesn’t it? And she is the wife of the future King of a not so insignificant country. #YesAllWomen.
5. Because every woman is constantly compared to other women in magazines, in video games, in films, on TV, in ads, and every form of media, as though the only way we can prove our worth is if we are better than someone else. We are enough as we are and we don’t need anybody’s permission to be so. We are in no way obliged to meet the standards set by a male-centric society.
6. Because advertisers spend billions every year to tell us what to think and how, and more often than not, they tell us to think of women as sexual objects.
7. Because people keep saying in a matter-of-fact way that it’s difficult to be a woman in this world, because women have to live in fear of being abused, harassed, raped or killed. How can you be calm when you say that, instead of fighting it? That’s just not acceptable.
8. Because when people know a woman suffering in an abusive relationship, they ask her why she’s still in the relationship. But when they know a man who abuses a woman, why don’t they tell the man to stop abusing?
9. Because when a woman says no, it’s not a negotiation or “playing hard to get”.
10. Because misogyny is so well hidden in our society that even men, who normally consider themselves liberal and would not just watch a woman being ill-treated, don’t always understand how and why some of their actions are a result of misogyny.
11. Because even women themselves don’t realise that when they are bringing up a son, they need to teach him to respect women, treat women as equals, and not look at them as the “inferior or weaker” sex.
12. Because even today when parents have a boy and a girl, they tell the boy not to play with dolls or take interest in “girly” things, like dance, arts or cooking, while they tell the girl to “stop climbing trees and behave like a girl”.
13. Because women are expected to learn to cook, take care of the house and take their husband’s name when they get married. How many men learn to cook because they are about to get married? Because it’s the woman’s job to make sure her family eats healthy food? Because men aren’t smart enough to learn or care about health? Men are never even asked about taking their wife’s name after marriage. Women aren’t sheep to be owned or herded.
14. Because the arguments against abortion are invariably made by men who want to control women’s bodies and paint women as a “child killer”. I read a news story where a 10-year old girl in Senegal was raped and forced to give birth to a set of twins as a result of the rape. When asked what she wanted, she said she wanted the man who raped her to be killed; because of him, she can’t go to school anymore. Her innocence was killed and nothing was done to help her because of Senegal’s anti-abortion laws.
15. Because when the female half of the world population has to live in fear of the male half, even though they came wailing from the female half, it’s just sad.
16. Because it’s true #NotAllMen are abusers or rapists. We need men to openly declare that they truly believe that all women deserve respect. We need men to become more aware and speak up for all the women. This is not an issue we can afford to be divided on. A woman does not have to be related to you for you to care whether or not she is treated with respect. In fact, when men stand up to their fellow men and tell them to stop abusing women, that sets a powerful example. #YesAllWomen is a call to action to all those men who do care and respect women.
17. Because the point of #YesAllWomen is that we want a world where women are not abused anymore and don’t have to be afraid when they walk down the road alone, a world where women can live without fear. Too many people are dying waiting for that day and we are tired of it. We can’t wait any longer.
18. Because equal respect, equal rights, equal worth and equal share of this world is not a privilege. It’s a right. It’s a right every woman deserves. It’s a right every person deserves.
So to all those people who don’t take this seriously, who make jokes about this, who feel threatened by this, who want this “to stop already” – go on, fix these issues, then we’ll stop. #YesAllWomen