You’ve probably all seen and heard the recording of Donald Trump talking a few years ago. In it he talks about he feels entitled to grab women and sexually assault them because he was what… famous? Rich? Or just a man?
I’m assuming that it was inspired by the Trump news, but a woman on Twitter then decided to ask women for their stories, she tweeted this:
If you haven’t already go and view the responses to this tweet. Thousands and thousands of women recounting truly horrible stories. Gird yourself, but do read it.
But note one important thing – the original request was for stories of women’s ‘first’ assault. Not only, not if they ever have been assaulted. No. It asked for their first assault. Already implicit in that is that nearly all women will have been assaulted and that it will have happened multiple times.
This is horrific.
It obviously doesn’t need me to say that it is wrong, but I’m going to say it anyway. THIS IS WRONG.
It’s time for men to stand up and do something about this. If you’re a right thinking man you have probably heard the expression “every man is a potential rapist” and been appalled by it. How can they think of me like that? Well if you see all these stories and understand the fear of assault that many women live in, so any man – every man – can look like a potential assailant. By allowing this sort of behaviour to continue, or to be explained away as ‘boasting’ we are not only putting all women under threat, but we are also reducing men to potential rapists.
So, what can we do about it? Well, I think there are three key things:
- Step in
Obviously the first this is to stop behaving like this. You may not think of yourself as attacker, but analyse your behaviour and amend it if need be. It is ok to find women attractive if that is your sexual persuasion, it is not ok to feel entitled to act upon that or expect any response to your attraction. Keep your hands, but also your eyes and comments, to yourself.
Don’t allow this to happen to women in your presence. We don’t have to be offended about this in relation to our daughters, wives, sisters, mothers, granddaughters etc. We can just be offended by this because it is wrong. So let’s not let others get away with it. Call it out in real life and on social media. In real life it can be harder and it can be hard to step in without looking like another potential attacker, but it seems that the current advice – for verbal attacks at least – is to step between people and provide cover. If it’s not aggressive then sit next to the person being attacked and chat about something else, or just stand in front of the abuser to shield the victim.
Listen – and hear – the stories woman tell. Believe them. Don’t belittle them. And DO NOT put it down to just ‘boasting’ by men, or boys being boys.
It has been suggested to me by some people that know this subject a lot better than I do that I add an extra step into the process, it is:
This is a more general attitude shift. Don’t wait to see abuse before you step in (although still safely do that if you do see it), instead try to prevent abuse in the first place.