I grew up indirectly being taught that boys forcing themselves on girls is OK. I think we all did. ”It only means he likes you, ” said a teacher to a girl in my first grade class who was being harassed by a boy.
Of course for the teacher this was an effort to resolve the situation and console the girl, and she did tell the boy to stop, but the message she sent that girl was clear: boys will be boys, it’s ok, it’s just the way they are.
And I believe this is how all of us who grew up before the year 2000 were raised by our teachers, parents and pretty much all adults surrounding us. They meant no harm, this is how they grew up too, but today we are slowly grasping the fact that something has been fundamentally wrong with our mentality.
Is it a woman’s own fault that she’s harassed because of how she dresses? Of course not, but this is what schools and the media keeps telling us. If you dress in a revealing way, you will be harassed, so you better cover up. It’s your own fault for sending the wrong signals.
But blaming the victim like this is crazy talk! How is it a woman’s fault – who merely wants to dress up for a night out, feel that she is pretty and lives up to the impossible beauty standards set by the advertising industry – that men keep coming on to her, touch her, talk dirty to her even after she has said ”no” countless times? It’s not. And we need to stop teaching girls that they provoked it.
If you don’t fully understand what sexual consent means, take a look at this video. This totally British way of explaining sexual consent is brilliant.
Donald Trump was caught on video talking about women in a degrading way. ”Grab them by the pussy” is perhaps the most famous quote from that video, and he also talked about how as a celebrity he can do anything to women, kiss them when he greets them, put his hands on them, and they won’t try to stop him because, hey, he’s Donald Trump.
”Locker room talk” is how Trump supporters defended him. ”This is how men commonly talk amongst themselves.” And the worst part is, I totally get that argument! While not a lot of men would be quite that vulgar, there certainly is a mentality to boast and talk sexually about women who would not consent to such talk. It is a macho mentality, and it exists because those men were taught that ”boys will be boys”.
Speaking of boys. What can we do to ensure the next generation is different? We’re already well on our way. It’s a topic covered a lot more in media. I think the current young generation will think twice before telling a little girl that she’s being harassed because a boy likes her, as if it’s a good thing. And a lot of the newest generation of boys will have a better understanding that no means no. Boundaries will still be tested and overstepped, but not without a second thought.
We need to stop blaming the victims and ask them to change and take preventive measures. We should instead teach our boys that no means no, that a signal may be an invitation to approach, but that going further is not acceptable if someone says no. We should teach our boys that asking permission is not a sign of weakness.
We need more female role models and heroes in movies, and we need to stop making women look like they want to be chased. I read a perfect example about princess Leah and Han Solo, about how she repeatedly said no and he kept pressing his body up against her until he forced a kiss from her, and how the two ended up together in the end. She *liked* that sort of forceful attention and a bit of force was just what was needed to win the girl over. And Star Wars is just one example of many.
We need to get rid of the ”boys will be boys” mentality. We need to stop telling girls how to dress. And we need to punish the predator rather than blame the lamb for looking too tasty.
Those are just my spontaneous thoughts as I air at an airport waiting for a flight.