I didn’t think I would write a post like this, not because I don’t think this topic is revelant, but because I wasn’t not sure I’d be able to bring anything new to the discussion. Seeing just how many cases of sexual misconduct happened and were never talked about, let alone prosecuted, makes me angry and sad. I really do care about everything that’s going on. And while all these cases are hard to read and think about, I hope the discussion they have started will lead to a better world in the future.
It also might not. Maybe we’ll be shocked for a while, and then just forget about it. Some people will suffer the consequences, but most will just move on with their lives. This is a thought that truly makes me sick. And this is why I decided to talk about it.
There is another reason why this post came to being, and that is the fact that in my last post, just a couple of days ago, I mentioned Master of None, a tv show written by Aziz Ansari. You probably know where this is leading, but in case you don’t, apparently, the person who talked so much about woman rights in the show is now accused of sexual misconduct himself. HERE is the original article if you haven’t read it yet. This case made me feel betrayed, though I’ve never met Aziz Ansari and he definitely has no personal importance to me. I felt betrayed because this person was someone who was supposed to be on the “right” side of the debate. He was supposed to be one of the men who understands, or at least tries to understand, what women go through. This feeling that there are no men left to trust is horrible! Now, I certainly don’t feel that way, my boyfriend and my brother are my best friends, two people I trust the most. And they are men. So, of course, I’m aware that not all men are the same. But I understand when, in the midst of all this, some women start to feel that way. This way of thinking is horrible and destructive. It divides people and nourishes anger.
Now, back to the Ansari case – it turned out to be the most divisive case in the entire discussion. Ashleigh Banfield attacked Ansari’s accuser on CNN, saying that what happened to her was not abuse, and that she’s hurting the entire movement. (Watch it here). Many (feminist) women, for example Margaret Atwood, are expressing certain issues with the movement. Is it becoming attacks without proof? How big is the possibility of false accusations hurting innocent people?
Now, I’m not saying that these issues should not be addressed. On the contrary, false accusations would definitely ruin everything that the movement stands for. The problem with sexual abuse victims has always been the lack of understading. The victims are met with doubt, and even blamed themselves for provoking the abuser. And this is something that the movement is trying to change. Women and men should not be afraid to press charges. They should never be mocked for what they went through, and their pain shouldn’t be belittled. A woman doesn’t deserve to be raped because she’s wearing a short skirt. Men can be raped, too, and this doesn’t make them less “manly”. Unfortunately, some people still can’t seem to grasp such simple concepts. And why is that? Largely because of what the society teaches us about men and women. And this is why the case of Aziz Ansari has to be talked about. He apologised to the accuser and said that he never realised she was feeling uncomfortable. But how could a person who openly speaks about these issues not see the problem? How can it be normal to proceed with sexual advances after a sentence like: “I don’t want to be forced because then I’ll hate you.”
Why didn’t the woman say a strong “no” or just left, some may ask. And others may pose a counterquestion: Why didn’t he stop if he wasn’t sure what she wanted? This leads to one of the the things we are taught, one way or the other: women are not supposed to act like “sluts”. This kind of labeling is where the problems start. It basically means women cannot enthusiastically consent to sex. They have to play “hard to get” (as if sex is something that is won by men). So, if a woman backs away, she may not really be saying no. It might just be a game. And in this game, the woman is a prize, an object. This is such a frequent trope that it’s become inbedded in our minds.
The other side of the story is the notorious “friendzone”. This is what happens when a man doesn’t win “the game”. He does everything right. He’s nice, he tries so hard to be liked, but in the end, the woman still doesn’t want him. And the truth is, yes, some women chose a wrong man. This, however, doesn’t mean that the self-proclaimed “nice guy” is the right choice, either. Being nice in order to get something means you’re not that nice after all. *
Another thing we are taught is that women are supposed to be motherly and keep their marriages at any cost. You think this is something that has changed? It’s something we don’t have to talk about anymore, in the 21st century? There are so many proofs that, unfortunately, the problems are not yet resolved. I won’t go into much detail, since you can easily find all of the statistics on the internet. I won’t even go into the Star Wars: The Last Jedi debate, because I’m really done with that, but I feel the need to mention that a “men’s rights activist” made a no-women cut of the movie. Yes, really. And, of course, you can hate the movie, but hating it because there are too many women in to is just idiotic! Anyway, I don’t want to want about film or even books. I have a better example. Everyone trusts the victims these days, you say? Well, let me tell you a little real-life story from my own country, Croatia. It ended not even a week ago. And it didn’t end well.
County Prefect Alojz Tomašević is from the leading political party in Croatia. And he beats his wife. The wife decides to come forward, to finally press charges. After that, everyone she knows turns their back on her. EVERYONE. Even her children. The press mostly backs her up, but no one she knows gives her any help. And then the Minister of Demography, Family and Social Policy, Nada Murganić (a woman and a former social worker!) says that these things happen in families and it would’ve been better if they resolved it as a family, without going to the press. After that, the woman withdraws the charges. Literally NOTHING happens to her husband. He’s still in charge of the county. And her son writes a post on Facebook in which he thanks God that He enlightened his mother, and made her see that she made a mistake. (He’s probably just happy that his father is still influential and can “buy” him a good life.) The Church never addressed the problem directly, but an article comes out in which a priest says that divorce is a great sin, and women should never leave their husbands. All this in the 21st century. (I found a short article about it in English, if you’re interested.)
Why didn’t she just leave, you ask? Well, this is why! She was left alone and no one supported her. And this is why even smaller issues have to be talked about – that’s where everything starts. Every cat-call, every sexist remark shapes the society we live in. Yes, everyone makes mistakes, everyone sometimes says something that can be seen as problematic. But if someone warns you, you should just learn from it. If people are willing to think about ther people’s fellings, and what makes other uncomfortable, then it’s not that hard to change certain behaviours. And these changes are important for everyone. Women and men, because as I mentioned earlier, men are often mocked if they say they were sexually abused since they are expected to be strong, and to want sex all the time.
And, since we’re talking about this, did you know there was a Spider-man comic which addressed this issues, and Peter Parker talks about his own experience of sexual abuse when he was a boy? I think this is a very important comic. To see a superhero, someone they look up to, someone powerful, go through such things, sends a very powerful message and validates the issue. It helps children realise that abuse can happen to anonye, and that it doesn’t mean you’re weak. You can read more about it HERE.
This is where I leave you, but please feel free to comment on these issues. It’s not an easy topic, but it’s important, and I’d love to talk to you!
*This goes both ways. What about the girl who is “one of the guys”? She likes her friend, but he dates the vilified “pretty girl”. The “one of the guys” girl does everything right. She likes the same things as he does. She’s not nagging like the other girls. All girls nag, but no, not her! Even if something bothers her, she will laugh it off. She never makes scenes. She doesn’t wear make-up. Boys always say how make up is misleading, how it’s “false advertising”, but still date girls who wear it. Now, why is that? And in a movie, she would get the guy. But real life is something else…