How effective is a mere status with a hashtag about a cause so big? Will it help diminish sexual harassment and abuse? Will it stop random men from eyeing your chest? Or can it knock some sense into the women in the street yelling at you saying things like “cover your chest; where is your scarf? Our sons are getting spoiled because of you.”
We wish it was that easy.
We wish one status was enough to show people the magnitude of the problem.
Unfortunately, this social media campaign that spiralled earlier this week has already been called a stunt to use our privilege card. And believe me, I wish a status embedded with our personal stories could tell these wisecracking know-it-alls how a woman wishes she could use her privilege card and stop her husband from raping her; when the 16-year old was simply writing her essay, she wishes she could take out her privilege card and stop her teacher from slithering his dirty hands down her thighs; when the infant was chewing on her toy, she wishes she could use her privilege card to stop her 30-year old molester groping her.
The magnitude of the problem is indeed bigger than some men pinching your butt in public, and aunties worrying about their sons turning into rapists because you didn’t choose to cover your breasts.
The problem lies in our upbringing.
Most girls, if not all, grow up hearing things like “wear your scarf when you go out, it’s not safe; don’t stay out too late, men are animals; don’t wear sleeveless; don’t make male friends, they’ll take advantage of you; don’t tell anyone about it, it’s embarrassing, they’ll judge you.” Although to protect us, these notions are etched in our heads and thus suggest that if you don’t do what you are told, you will be subjected to harassment. Unfortunately, some men pick up from there and think it’s justified to harass and dominate women for the same reason.
It needs to stop.
We need to stop shackling our girls in order to protect them. Instead, we need to tell our boys that if you sexually assault her, the society will judge you, not her; it’s embarrassing for you, not her; don’t look at women with bad intentions; stand up for your friend who is being touched inappropriately by her teacher.” The way we perceive the whole issue of sexual harassment needs to change. Instead of telling your daughter to change her clothes, teach your son to look at them with respect or simply look away; instead of telling a girl to stay silent, tell the boy that he would be a disgrace to society if he teases a girl. When a girl is raped or assaulted, don’t say things like “Oh no, what is going to happen to her now. Her life is destroyed. Who will marry her?” Instead, talk about what will happen to the boy? Who will marry him? How can he be punished? The attention needs to be deviated from the victim to the criminal.
As a society, we fail to do our part. We focus on the wrong things that lead to wrong doings. We either try to bury her story or judge her if she dares to speaks up. And similarly, we let men off the hook by saying “Men are like that. She should have been more careful.”
No. Men are not like that!
In the aftermath of Hollywood tycoon Harvey Weinstein’s scandal over rape and molestation, social media was flooded with the hashtag #MeToo from celebrities and commoners, which in turn has brought to light different aspects of the issue. With that being said, I believe that no step towards a good cause is a step too small. Perhaps the solutions lies in changing our stance towards the problem and say ‘Don’t rape’ instead of saying ‘Don’t get raped.’