I’m a woman.
And I’m sick and tired of having to deal with manipulation, fake male superiority, and sexism.
There’s something that always happens whenever I start talking about women’s oppression or whenever I notice something that makes my blood curl.
I get feedback like “Oh, don’t be so sensitive”, “She probably asked for it”, or “It’s not yours to take care of it, you shouldn’t stick your nose where it doesn’t belong”.
People! It’s time for you to wake up.
It’s already familiar to you that half of these comments usually come from men who clearly don’t have a clue what we’re going through. But, the even sadder reality is that the other half usually comes from women…
Yes, women. Desperate women who even though they live that unpleasant reality and even though they face the horrible truth, they allow to be minimized, belittled, controlled, dominated. In one way or another, they succumb to the pressure.
It sickens me to say this, but most of us learned to minimize the severity of a situation that makes us uncomfortable. We’ve learned to ignore the comments. We’ve learned to look the other side. We’ve learned to silently deal with it, and laugh even when there’s nothing funny about it. We’ve literally learned how to swallow our pride and suppress the anger.
It sickens me to my stomach, it makes me want to scream from the top of my lungs, but it is the truth.
We’ve let it become a part of our everyday life. Just an ordinary thing.
It became so frequent and chronic that we no longer feel the need to tell it to our boyfriends, to our parents, to our friends, to anyone…
So, maybe that’s why they don’t know.
Maybe they don’t know that older men are always staring, even at 15-year-old girls.
Maybe they don’t know that we were terrified by an older man’s request for an after-work drink.
Maybe they don’t know how terrifying it is to have a male friend who got too much to drink and desperately tried to get us laid even though we made it pretty clear that we’re not interested.
Maybe they don’t know that our boss is offering us a ridiculously high pay raise just to get us laid.
Maybe they don’t know that he’s threatening us to lose the job if we don’t go out with him.
Maybe they don’t know that we have to make the “I have a boyfriend” excuse, instead of simple NO, because we’re afraid that the guy at the club might continue harassing us.
They probably don’t know that every time we walk home, we take our phone out and hold the finger on the call button… just in case.
They don’t know that every time we walk to our car, we cautiously position the keys in a form of a cold weapon… just in case.
They probably don’t know what it feels like to be whistled and stared at in the streets.
They probably don’t that women are subjects to constant catcalling. They don’t know that out in the streets, some men are filthy and disrespectful enough to call us “Baby”, “Sexy Lady”, “Sweetie” …
They probably don’t know that every time a creepy guy with a disgusting smirk on his face who is passing us says hi, we’re too scared to pretend like nothing happened, so we utter a quiet hi.
Maybe they don’t know that the same creep who said hi, is most likely to stop us, harass us and insult us for acting like we’re too good to talk to him.
But, how could they not know?
That is the thing I’ve been asking myself.
We hear stories of women who barely got out of an abusive relationship, we see girls who were assaulted, raped, we listen to women who reveal their stories about how they left their job because of sexual harassment, we see it happen to our dearest. We experience scenarios that we thought only happened in movies.
Yet, it is still a part of our ugly reality.
But, maybe… it has become so normal that it didn’t ever occur to us that we have to tell them.
Maybe they don’t really have an idea sexism exists. Maybe they’ve heard all about it but never experienced it in front of their eyes. Maybe we need to be clearer, louder, bolder.
Maybe you need to stop this madness from becoming a part of your life. Because at the end of the day, it all starts with you.
We cannot allow ourselves to minimize the severity of those situations. We cannot allow ourselves to stay silent, especially when it’s not a personal experience. We cannot keep swallowing our words. We cannot pretend we’re fine. We simply cannot let them control us.
So, to all the men out there, who are completely unaware of the reality we live in:
The next time a woman complains about being catcalled and harassed, don’t dismiss her; the next time your wife complains about being insulted at work, don’t ignore her; the next time your sister tells her how uncomfortable a guy made her feel, LISTEN TO HER.
Listen to what she has to say and support her battle.
Listen because you can’t even imagine what she’s been through.
Your reality is different than hers.
So, please. Listen.
Image source: Víctor Candia