“You should have known wearing that would attract attention”.
“You should have covered up – what did you expect”?
Respect. To not be told what we “should” have done.
These toxic phrases are all heard by women day after day - the result of which is a society that is desensitised to the issue of rape culture and young boys who develop the mentality that women are not deemed worthy of respect in the same way that they are.
It has to stop.
Sexual harassment comes in many different forms, whether it be unwanted physical abuse or being catcalled in the street (something we have all experienced). In fact, a survey conducted by the BBC revealed that over half of the women asked in Britain felt that they had been sexually harassed in the workplace. The reason for this is because the world is still so narrow minded about the stigma each gender faces every day. Men are expected to be the strong ones who feel no pain or emotion.
he ‘players’. Anything less than that is described as being a girl. Why is that? The idea that women are weak and unambitious is deep rooted into the minds of all of us - we’re brought up to think like that. This is a major reason as to why so many women at work have been victims to colleagues or members of higher status at work. They’re expected to go along with it. We all know an opinionated woman is simply ‘bossy’.
The biased social standards surrounding women and men are so toxic that many women just feel too vulnerable to speak up. They are made to feel ashamed. They are made to feel responsible. Yet, this is absolutely not the case.
You have a right to your own body. If you feel like this may have happened to you then it is important for yourself and other women that you speak up. Try and tell someone about it: a therapist, your parents, teachers, or whoever deals with HR if it was in a working environment. If that makes you too uncomfortable, remember that there are many online organisations such as samaritans and childline which can offer support and help.
Another thing which can really help is your friendships. Being the victim of unwanted comments or assault can be really mentally draining and your friends can really help to lighten that weight on your shoulders. Surround yourself with positivity and people who want to build you up instead of tear you down. It was once said that humans are like chameleons in the way they will adapt to match their surroundings. If you fill your surroundings with people you regard highly, you too will become like them.
The allegations against Harvey Weinstein have shocked to the world; it has sparked a conversation. The recent #MeToo movement was a breakthrough in amongst this. It involved victims of sexual assault and the campaign’s allies all coming together to destroy the silence and have a voice. Know it or not, you have a voice too. Know it or not, what happened was not your fault. Instead of teaching young girls that they are merely objects and should cover up, why don’t we teach young men to respect them?
You’re not alone in this. If you or someone you know need help - ask for it. There are so many people who want to help you and will if you initiate the conversation.
“Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women” - Maya Angelou
Thank you for reading.