Lately the internet has been flooded with retellings (or first tellings) of violence women have suffered, due simply to our gender. At first I was hesitant to add my voice to the chorus. Compared to some of my friends I have suffered very little, and I do not want to diminish their stories by comparing them with something less intense. Then, I realized the #yesallwomen is about showing that all women suffer from gender violence, and so I believe that every woman should share their experience, even if it seems comparatively insignificant.
Because I am a female:
- I have been whistled at and called after on the street.
- When I didn’t respond, the whistling turned into hurtful comments, about me being ugly.
- I have felt unsafe walking down an empty street at night, and called a friend, just to have my phone line open in case something happened.
- I have been drugged at a bar.
- I have had my butt and breasts groped at work, on the bus, and in the street.
- A taxi driver felt it was appropriate to demand sex as payment.
There are more. These little bits of violence pepper everyday life so often that eventually, they stop registering. But here is the really strange thing. Sometimes, my friends tell me about how men (old men, young men, attractive and unattractive) make lewd comments towards them on the street. Although this happens to me, it doesn’t happen nearly as much as it does to other girls, and this makes me think, “What is wrong with me? Am I really so unattractive that I can’t even get the attention no one wants?” What does that say, when gender violence is so normalized in our society that I devalue myself for not being a victim? It isn’t that I want to experience it. It is just that it is so normal, so common, that I find myself an outlier because I do not endure it. THAT, I think, is sad.