Any abuse is about showing power and to take away power from the victim.
I can’t let go of the subject #metoo. And I’m glad others can’t either.
Power is about restricting another human beings from having what the perpetrators have. The demonstration of power is performed in many different ways. The scariest thing is that sexual assaults are just the tip of the iceberg. The dick picks, the touching, the grouping, the rapes. They all emerge from something women are exposed to every single day, every single minute.
It is in the small things, the subtle undertones, the words that are said, the actions. All those things that perpetrators say and do and then excuse themselves by saying that the victim is too sensitive, that it wasn’t meant the way it was interpreted, that the victim is overreacting, that the victim was provoking the situation.
Every day women are told to know their place by being restricted in their everyday life or being told they should behave in a different way.
The one thing that upsets me more than anything else is when men tell me they have never noticed women being belittled, that it never happens in their workplace. That is one example of when a man is belittling women. He never noticed, therefore it doesn’t exist.
There are no follow up questions, no interest in finding out how women perceive the way they are treated by men nor do they ask for examples.
When being a male living in a world where the unspoken rules are made up by men, then it is difficult so see life from a different perspective. It is not easy to see and understand a pattern when you are being part of it. When men are not even aware of the fact that the size of their physique matters.
Ten years ago I listened to a women being interviewed. She was born male but made the transition to woman in her late thirties. She had been a male child, gone to university as a young man and eventually grew up being a man. It was interesting to listen to her diverse experiences from being both a man and a woman. She said that one of the first things she noticed was the first time she walked the streets as a woman, that men were constantly bumping in to her. They didn’t see her they told her. She had given this a thought realising that when she was walking the streets when being a man, he never gave way for a woman. He just walked straight forward and women would automatically move away. Now, when she was a woman, she realised that the reason men bumped in to her was for the same reason she never bumped in to women when she was a man.
Women automatically move to the side when closing in to a man and men don’t take notice of women closing in.
After hearing this I decided to do any experiment on my own behaviour. So I took a walk in my city, I walked the streets and I realised that I automatically took a step to the side when a man closed in. So I forced myself not to take that step to the side and I realised the woman from the interview was right. Men didn’t notice me and therefore they bumped in to me. Not one, not two, but every man I met.
Next day during coffee break, I told my female colleagues about my revelation walking the streets the previous day and their reaction surprised me.
You will get yourself into trouble, they said.
None of them even reflected on the seriousness of this male behaviour nor the fact that women contribute to it by ‘going along’ with these unsaid and unwritten rule.
But how can women expect to be listened to if they are not even seen by men, if the physical space is asumed to be male and if women choose to stay unseen because otherwise they will get themselves into trouble.
Being unseen and unheard is very troublesome because it limits women in their everyday life.
We have all learned new words recently.
MenNotlisteningtowomen. MenNotnoticingwomen. MenTalkingoverwomen. MenOverlookingwomen. MenTellingwomentosmile. MenCommentingonwomensappearances. MenShushingwomen. MenKillingwomen.
It is all about power.
There are statistics clearly showing the White Male Privilege. I’m referring to statistics showing how white males are privileged in court decisions. If the victim is a white male the perpetrator get a heavier sentence. If the perpetrator is a white male he gets a lower sentence. This sends a message.
Men have always had the freedom of living their lives the way it suits them. They have traveled, explored, left their families, abandoned their children and the reaction has always been; well that is to be expected from a man.
I met a man recently who has spent the past five years in Mexico. He told me he has a ten year old daughter living with her mother in his home country. He says he misses his daughter. He wants to be close to her. And I’m thinking, what’s stopping you. But he likes his life. Doesn’t have any intentions on changing it. And he is excused by the fact that he is a man. How many women do you know that could do that without being judged.
I have been traveling for a year now. Every now and then one of my male friends send me a message with the same question every time; Where are you now. I answer him, telling him the location. Every time he writes me back, he writes the same three words. ‘You are crazy.’ He finds my actions and choice of traveling on my own being crazy. Just because I am a woman. I am only doing what lots of men have been doing for centuries.
Why is it that I always get the question; where is your husband. Why is it that security in Mexico are questioning why I am traveling without company. Why is it that going to a bar for a beer as a single woman still is uncomfortable because of how men look at her. Why is it that women are warned from doing things every man can do. Why is it a big thing that the entire crew on a commercial airplane are all female. Why is it that women are supposed to shield themselves from men. Why does men have the need to suppress women. Why does men have the need to show power over women.
Why are there so many Whys.
I read an interesting article on Facebook about sexual harassment in Swedish schools. Not a single one of the complaints were taken seriously by the managements in the different schools. To be clear, the harassments were conducted by young male students. Kids. So I reposted the article and wrote; This is what your sons are doing.
A friend of mine was offended by my text, saying not all sons sexually harass. And of course not all sons harras. Not all men harass either.
But my friends main concern was that the issue sexual harassment and #metoo would be forgotten the day media stops writing about it.
The point is that no issue will ever be forgotten if we don’t let it. It is everyones responsibility to keep this issue alive.
It is how we, you, me, everyone, us all, address the important issue about how men exercise their power over women.
Everyone has to address every male power play when it happens. Every single time. Every day. By every person being exposed. By every person seeing someone else being exposed. By teaching our sons how to be good men, to redefine masculinity.
Change doesn’t just happen. Change is dependent on everyones actions every day.