"In the last few years, conversations about feminism and the way women are treated have exploded in my social circles and on a national level. More and more women are vowing to stop putting up with harassment and being casually discriminated against. Things like Hollaback! are putting the spotlight on women’s experiences in public spaces and giving guidelines on how to fight against the harassment. It’s about damn time. But I’m really hoping that the progress I’m seeing will continue throughout my lifetime and not become a Sisyphus-like endeavor.
When I think back to my experiences as a 30 year old, Asian, bisexual cis-woman, I am fortunate that I don’t have any horror stories to share, just run-of-the-mill catcalls, slights, and insults. However, what troubles me is the fact that in the majority of those incidences, the prevalent culture misled my friends and I to believe that there were certain truths to being a woman and that being harassed was one of those things that we could do nothing about. In fact, it was better to do nothing, stay quiet, hide. Better for them, and for us.
I wish I had been more aware back then.
That sense of helplessness and frustration at the social norm is compounded by the fact that the only clear avenue that women have to speak up about sexual harassment is in their workplace and they are expected to endure it everywhere else. But the truth is that it hurts more not to acknowledge the multitude of micro-aggressions, micro-transgressions, and other not-so-micro violations. These conversations that we’re having help to lift some of the shame and embarassment and give women a chance to be angry in a safe place.
I want future generations to know that they have that strength within themselves to stand up against the “boys will be boys” excuse. That type of narrow paradigm serves no one's purpose. I hope that men are taught to respect women, and not showmanship “respect” like opening the door, but to believe deep down that women are not at a disadvantage in what they can accomplish or do. I hope that women are taught that they deserve every right that men have and to be brave in going after their dreams. Right now, I think a lot more tactical lessons need to be taught, to stem the harassment that women experience, online and offline. This article about the secondary trauma that men need to deal with is incredibly important and relevant in creating a strong foundation where further progress can be made from the current level of sharing experiences and acknowledging the problem.
I hope it’s sooner rather than later that we can move on to permanent and substantial fixes, because every day that we wait is another day that men and women spend internalizing that they are not standing on even ground."