Today is International Women’s Day but there are no real reasons to celebrate. It has been decades, centuries actually, of oppression, of inequality and denial of basic rights.
Today while millions of women celebrate our day, millions of others are being beaten, raped and silenced. As we see our social media pages and news sites filled with roses and pink honoring our accomplishments worldwide, there are girls being forced into marriages and women working for way less than their male equals.
But oppression goes way further than the issues listed above. Oppression is what we experience daily. Day after day we struggle with the same basic issues. We can’t walk down the street without being harassed. We can’t travel alone without the fear of being murdered. We can’t have sex without being slut shamed. We can’t drink without being judged. We can’t even end relationships without fearing for our safety.
I hope as you grow and become a man you realize the role and responsibility you have in standing up for every woman in this world. You are not better than any of them. Your voice is not more important than theirs. Your accomplishments are not greater. Its essential for me to remind you that we are all equal. Girls play soccer, girls fly planes, girls fight in wars, girls are presidents. Girls can do anything you can do, although and unfortunately their path to success will always be longer and more challenging than yours.
Whenever you wonder how you should treat a girl, think of me, think of your grandma, think of your 3 half sisters.Think of how you want the world to treat us. That’s exactly how you should treat the stranger down the street, the drunk girls you will meet at college parties, and all other women who will one day cross your path.
Some will love you, some will hurt you, some will challenge you and some, hopefully, will change you. And all of them deserve your undivided respect, regardless of the clothes they are wearing or the drink they are carrying.
And while we are talking about clothes, understand that the way a woman chooses to dress is not up for you to decide. Their clothes are not for you to approve or for you to indulge. Its for them. And your job as a man is to always fight for their right to wear what they feel fit whenever they feel fit, without the fear of being raped.
Don’t ever joke about rape.
Don’t ever leave a woman behind in a situation where she can be raped.
I wish I could say that you will never meet a girl who has been raped, because unfortunately you will. Not one, not two, but many. Most won’t disclose this information with you but believe the studies and polls when tell you that one in every four women will suffer some type of sexual assault in her lifetime. It’s my job to talk to you about this with the hope that you will bring awareness to and positively influence your male friends.
It’s NEVER EVER her fault.
She NEVER EVER asked for it, no matter what you hear from strangers. Trust me, you will hear victim blaming comments from misognistic people your entire life. So in respect to the victims of rape, ALWAYS protect their right to have safe and legal abortions. Actually, forget that. ALWAYS protect a woman’s right to abort NO MATTER what the circumstances. It’s our right. Protect it. Fight for it. Because everyday there will be people fighting to take that right away from us.
You see, many still view us women as nothing more than sexual objects, whose primary purposes are to satisfy and procreate. Many still don’t respect our autonomy and refuse to acknowledge that our bodies belong to US; not to the state, not to our husbands and definitely not to the church and God.
God. That’s an important word for you to learn. Not because you will believe in it, but because people have done and still do horrible things to women in the name of it.
Understand these things and fight them.
We, women, need your voice.
You were born privileged, simply for being a man. The world will take you more seriously, it will listen to your voice more attentively and it will offer you opportunities more frequently. Embrace this privilege and use this privilege for the greater good of all women who will one day share this world with you. The fight for equality is not over, its just starting. You and I shall both fight together. Today, tomorrow and as long as there are oppressed women alive, you and I shall speak up and fight.