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The Most Important Post I’ve Ever Written

April 30, 2009

I’ve written a lot of blog posts. Over a hundred, in fact, just on this blog. I can assure you, however, that this is the most important blog post that I’ve ever written. It’s one that I’ve been contemplating writing for a long time, but I haven’t  felt like it was a post that needed to be written. I felt as though readers would finish the post, feel sorry for me, and then say “well, so?”  Today I realized that the post does, in fact, need to be written. Today’s post is about women, about men, and about the dangerous attitudes that some men have about women.

The reason for this post is a webpage on ninjapirate that I Stumbled upon today, entitled “You’re not being stalked. Get over yourself.” I was shocked to see this author blaming women for being stalked and saying that women who are being stalked are just overreacting. It made me angry. I emailed the author about it, and was unsurprised when he responded that his anger against women was caused by the behavior of women themselves. He claims that women are malicious and irrational, and that I should blame myself for everything that he says that offends me. I can’t even describe the feelings that this creates in me. Granted, some women behave badly. They lead men on or deliberately hurt them. They get angry over dumb things. I won’t deny that it happens. But this in no way means that women deserve to be stalked or raped. I know that the author of this website doesn’t  advocate harming women in his website, but attitudes like his are the exact attitudes that, taught to young men (who are voracious internet users, especially when it comes to humor sites such as ninjapirate), can lead to violence.

Until recently, I would never have considered myself to be a feminist. I thought that feminists were the sort of people who would say “Yes, we want to be able to do everything that men can do, but please don’t draft us or make us deal with flat tires.” I looked around  me and saw almost no evidence of discrimination against women. Hell, we almost had a female president.

In college, I learned a little more about feminism, and I revised my standpoint. Here are some highlights:

  • The first wave of feminism appeared in the early 1900s, and had two branches, one of which wanted general equality for women, and the other of which wanted just the right to vote. The first branch was considered too extreme, but the second became popular, and women were granted the right to vote in 1920.
  • The second wave of feminism was in the 1960’s. Women had entered the workforce en mass during WWII, and they didn’t want to go back to being housewives after the war was over. They realized that they could do the same work as men, and they slowly started demanding equal rights. This is a bit of a simplification, of course, but you get the general idea. Between the 1960’s and today, women have gained numerous rights, from equal pay for equal work to the right to wear pants.
  • The third wave of feminism, popular now, focuses on protecting women in third world countries from such practices as female circumcision and sex trafficking, as well as on ending violence against women everywhere.
  • Feminists are not man-haters or lesbians. They are simply women who believe that they should receive the same treatment as men.

Here’s a very brief list of the things that feminists, and women all over the world, are fighting against:

I know that feminism is a controversial issue, and I know that several of the above items are surrounded by their own mini-controversies. Some men (and even some women) believe that many of the laws designed to protect women can be used against men who have done nothing wrong. This may be true in some cases. I want to make it clear that I know that life is not a playground for men either. They can be accused of rape just because they had sex with a girl who was drunk. They can be accused of sexual harassment for telling an off-color joke. They have no say when a women wants to abort their child, and they often find it difficult to get custody of their children  in divorces. I am aware of these things. However, if one were to tally up all of the abuses of men perpetrated by women (the list would include murder, domestic violence, and rape, among others) and the abuses of women perpetrated by men, there is no question that men have had it much easier than women. Until very recently, women were essentially property with no say over their lives. In some countries, such as Afghanistan, women still have essentially no rights.

Why do I suddenly feel the need to write about this, you ask? To explain that, you need to know a little about me. I am not a religious person, but instead live by a sort of moral code. The only formal, important rule is that I do my best not to hurt others. I feel as though almost every rule, law, or commandment can essentially be boiled down to this simple statement: Don’t hurt other people.  Because of this, and for other reasons that I’ll list below, I find violence against women, particularly sexual violence, to be one of the worst things about our society and our world. Sexual violence against women hurts women not only physically but emotionally, and the scars can last a lifetime.

The following is something that I’ve told many people in an effort to heal and with the hope that telling my story will be able to help others heal and will prevent men from harming women. I haven’t mentioned it on this blog because I couldn’t find the appropriate time. Now I have. For ten years of my life, starting when I was only three years old, I was sexually abused by someone that I knew and trusted. I finally escaped from this abuse when my family moved to another state. I went off to college and started dating, only to find myself back in an abusive situation. It took over a year, but I escaped that situation as well, and I can say with confidence that I will never let myself fall into such a situation again.

Since then, I have learned a lot about sexual abuse and about violence against women. I have gained unbelievable amounts of strength, and I have learned not to blame myself for what happened to me. I have learned to walk with confidence and pride, and I have turned the label “sexual abuse victim” into “sexual abuse survivor,” a label that I wear very proudly.

I look around me and I see that the world can be very bad, but I also see that if we fight, we can beat the violence and anger. I feel that the most important tool that we have is education. If women know what abuse is, that they don’t have to put up with it, and that there are people who can help them, then maybe more will escape, as I did. If men are raised to respect and value women, fewer women will be abused.

It is important to remember that not all men who abuse women are sociopaths or killers. Many are just regular guys who saw their father hit their mother if dinner was cold, or drunk guys who have been taught that women in skimpy clothing want to have sex. These regular men are the reason that education is so important. It’s difficult to make a murderer or sociopath change his (or her behavior), but it is very easy to teach children that violence against women is unacceptable. We need to prevent violence before it begins, by thinking carefully about the impact that our behavior, as well as the media and other sources, has on our children.

We need to take responsibility for protecting one another. We need to put the drunk girl at the bar into a taxi. We need to befriend the coworker that we suspect is being abused. We need to teach our children about being kind to each other, and about how to protect themselves. We need to spread the word about violence against women. We need to combat misconceptions. We can’t just stand back and hope that someone else will fix things. We can’t assume that all of the problems that women face have been solved, as I used to.

We need to stand together and fight this, even if “this” is just one page on one website. On my college campus, we have something called the “Green Dot Campaign.” The idea is that every time you do something that prevents violence against women, such as telling someone that a certain joke is unacceptable, offering a girl a ride home, or reporting a crime, you create a green dot. At our campus Violence Intervention and Prevention Center, you can write what you’ve done on a green circle of construction paper and post it on a wall. The idea is to cover the wall, and figuratively the campus, with green dots.

Regardless of whether or not you consider yourself a feminist, regardless of your gender, regardless of whether you’ve ever been a victim of violence, it is up to you to start creating green dots. Help me cover the world in green dots. Do it for your sister, your mother, your daughter, your friend. Do it for me. You don’t have to donate money to stop violence against women. You don’t have to volunteer your time, wear a ribbon, or participate in a march. You just have to step in when you see that something is wrong.

We can beat this, but we can’t do it without you.

If you’re a victim of violence or would like more information, please visit the following websites.

The CDC’s page on Preventing Violence Against Women

The World Health Organization’s page on Violence Against Women

RAINN – Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network

After Silence – a message board for survivors of violence against women


If you have more resources to offer or simply want to talk, please contact me at strongtogether at gmail dot com

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. fojeane permalink
    April 30, 2009 3:18 am

    Great post! Thanks for sharing your story. In a world where we are ALL should be striving for Domestic Peace!!

  2. April 30, 2009 5:06 am

    Two thoughts. . .

    You might want to connect up with the Ms. Foundation’s Outrageous Acts campaign. . .it is very similar to your “Green Dot” initiative.

    This is all I write about on my web site. I’d love for you to come visit. I recently did a post on the health impacts of domestic violence: annecarolinedrake.com

  3. Robert Hodge permalink
    May 8, 2009 8:33 am

    ” Some men (and even some women) believe that many of the laws designed to protect women can be used against men who have done nothing wrong. ”

    This I know well as a woman in my neighborhood falsely accused me of waving a gun at her. She knew I didn’t have a gun. The police,the state,the DA and others, simply took her word over mine and saught to have me imprisoned for up to fifteen years. It is a fact that there are women like her that are the true enemies of all women. Women like her do not care if they accuse, and have jailed and/or imprisoned, a male loved one of yours. She could just as easily accused your dad,your uncle,your brother even, your son with no regard to what harm you could suffer as a result.

  4. July 9, 2009 8:34 pm

    Hi aribabybug!

    My name is Chelsea and I am on the Development team at RAINN. I came across your blog because you’ve mentioned RAINN in some of your writing. I wanted to contact you to thank you for your support and commitment to ending sexual assault.

    I wanted to share with you an exciting opportunity to help victims of sexual assault. I’m not sure if you’re familiar, but on July 25, there will be a National Day of Blogs. Participants will agree to blog for up to 24 hours to benefit their favorite charity. The objective of the event is to raise both funds and awareness for a cause that is important to you.

    f you’re interested, please visit http://www.blogathon.org/ for more information or feel free to email me with questions. If you chose to participate, I will be available to help you secure sponsors.

    Thank you so much, aribabybug, for your support! I look forward to hearing back from you soon.

    Best,

    Chelsea

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  1. Bravo, Bloggers! « Anne Caroline Drake

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