That’s quite a bold statement in today’s trendy ‘women are victims’ rhetoric, really. If you read any number of blogs, tweets or articles about women, the amount of us who are shouting out from the rooftops about all the ‘privilege’ they don’t have access to, or all the hardships they face becuase they happen to identify genetically, socially or fashionably with about half of the world’s population, well you’re bound to believe in ‘our’ shared victimhood.
But what if i tell you this is because we’ve been fed this? We’ve been conned into believing we’re weaker, more stupid, less able, less cunning, less cut-throat. Once upon a time we were fed this by men, but we’re fed it today still and a lot of the time we’re fed it by ‘feminists’. Apparently women speak about 20,000 words a day. That’s 13,000 more than the average man. How many of those are about how #YesAllWomen are abused or raped or silenced? It certainly doesn’t sound very silent to me. How much more useful and beautiful if these extra words were put into poetry or financial crisis solving? Or even telling other women that they are strong and fearless?
I remember as a child, my grandmother’s house got burgled. They smashed the windows to her kitchen and my mum and i went round to help her clear up. She was so upset. I asked why she’d locked her doors and pointed out that if she hadn’t, they’d have come in anyway, but not made such a mess or caused such damage. I wasn’t being sarcastic or trying to be clever, i couldn’t understand why someone would lock their doors. Last night, at 10pm whilst waiting for my train home, alone and in the dark, i decided not to be scared. There was a very very very good chance i wasn’t going to get raped (most rapes are done to people who the rapist already knows), so why waste my time, energy or feelings on preempting my victimhood? I know it’s not as easy as ‘tell yourself you won’t be raped’ and as if my magic you won’t be, but certainly reinforcing the message that women are victims of men isn’t, surely, going to help matters at all either? I certainly felt about 3 feet taller than i’ve been feeling for a while. I felt safe.
If we tell a child he is stupid, what does he become? If we tell a woman she is fat, how does she see herself? What about if we sell someone the idea that the this particular race of people are actually the enemy and we need to make laws that identify them so we can refuse their employment, marriage rights and eventually right to life? These things happen and have had catastrophic repercussions. So #YesAllWomen are victims to #YesAllMen is supposed to help us? How? HOW CAN IT HELP?!
I’m cross, i’m sorry. I know it’s meant well, or at least i presume it is. I don’t think these women, or well meaning ‘allies’ want to keep us down or want us to be scared, but i am going to stand opposed to their methods. This doesn’t mean i’m one of the ‘lucky’ ones (their words) and it doesn’t mean i’m anything other than opposed to their methods. No, really. This means i’m sure there’s another way. This means i hope there’s another way.
The London (and then Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool) riots were committed by mainly young males and there are indications that around two thirds of those involved in these (despicable) acts had very low literacy levels and many had been excluded from school at some point. Regardless of how the media, police or wider society may have painted these people before the rioting, think even of the language their own families may have used towards them. Now i think we cannot excuse behaviour like that, nor am i calling for a mass wave of ‘There, there, everything will be alright, because you’re wonderful and untouchable’ to either young men or young women, but i am asking you to look at the language and the message you use towards whole groups of people and to ask yourself if it’s helping. Is it?
So if these #YesAllWomen feminists are doing it with the right meaning, then who and how are they helping? I personally don’t feel they’re helping me. I imagine they’d say they were. I do think allowing people to voice their experiences, voice their concerns and voice their fears is important for those that want to, and perhaps in this hashtag (and its wider implications) does help on that front. I would suggest different wording though, something that moves us away from victimhood and towards strength, either as individuals or in unity. Perhaps in equating being stared at on a bus by a ‘creepy guy’ to being stoned to death by your own family for falling in love with the wrong man, through a shared hashtag highlights the fact that the ‘hardships women face’ are the same and that we can all understand, sister. Or perhaps we unite by condemning acts that keep women down, that keep us being killed in the name of ‘honour’, that keep us from standing up to bullies who would silence us and force us. Perhaps we unite by saying we are a class of equals; we are not victims.