By L. Ardor
First, Canadian media personality Jian Ghomeshi, then the Hollaback street harassment awareness campaign video that went viral, and sparked conversations all around the world, and now “pick up artist” Julien Blanc; for women, these past few weeks can be adequately described as a revolving door of violation, and to some it can be summed up in two words, “nothing new.” For women everywhere these past few weeks have been a confirmation of what we already knew to be true: women do not matter.
A strong statement—Yes! This is the kind of statement that prickles under your skin, and incites a small army of itches, for which the only remedy is change. For some with more sensitive skin, this statement can hurt. The truth hurts, so I will say it again; the acts of those with whom we share this earthly walk will continue to remind us that women do not matter.
We want to believe that women matter. We want to believe that nature overrides nurture, and that our marches, our voices, and the exuberant rise in strong women everywhere, are stomping away at the superiority complex of the patriarchal foundation one footstep at a time. Yet, we keep hearing about the Jian Ghomeshis, of the world, defending their right to sexually assault and harass women, by claiming consensually rough bedroom preferences.
There still remains a need to make, watch, and share street harassment awareness campaigns, like the one spearheaded by Hollaback, a movement to end street harassment fuelled by local activists around the world. Ten hours of footage documenting the continual harassment experienced by a woman in New York City, encouraged an innumerable amount of women to take to social media, and declare it to be a true depiction of daily life. Although facing its own critique of adding to the Black and Latino male stereotype, the message of the video remains clear. A woman cannot walk down the street in her own neighbourhood, without being placed on the same level as an animal being called to come back home.
As Steve Santagati, author of Code of Honor and The Manual said when interviewed by CNN regarding Hollaback, “….there is nothing more than a woman loves to hear, is that how pretty she is.” You hear that women? Be thankful that men are verbally, and at times physically caressing and fondling you in the street; it’s a compliment, so get used to it, because deep down inside you like it.
We keep coming into contact with men like Julien Blanc, a consultant for Real Social Dynamics, and a self-described pick up artist. He has made a living from teaching men how to sexually abuse and manipulate women into having sex with them. His methods of “wooing” include grabbing the heads of strange women and thrusting them into his crotch, along with putting women in choke-holds while encouraging them, in an albeit sexy way to “shhhh.” Women like power, we have been told this.
Julien has been quoted as saying, “[At least in Tokyo….] if you’re a white male, you can do what you want. I’m just romping through the streets, just grabbing girls’ heads, just like, head, pfft on [groin/stuffed into crotch].” If that is not scary and disgusting enough, I will put it into perspective for you. The men with whom you interact in your daily life are paying up to $3,000 to be taught how to violate you where you live, where you stand, where you walk; and where you feel the safest, in a world that does not offer you safety.
There exists the cultural norm that is the violation of our space, violation of our physical bodies, violation of our mental, emotional, and spiritual beings. Women live in a constant state of violation. As a woman, I understand the lack of compassion, and the lack of logic in this type of male mindset.
Since the beginning of our history, women have been as valued as the property that can be won, traded and discarded for more property. Our bodies and sexuality have been consecrated, sold, and dismembered for the pleasure and entertainment of men. Our religions and teachings of faith uphold our standings as a little lower than the angels, yet, well below the heels of the ones who teach us what and how to believe.
When the majority of social structures, and human thought processes applied into action, are founded on the female being in a constant state of less than, how else are we supposed to be treated? When we are taught to respect and honour those on equal footing or held in higher esteem, how dare we be surprised that women are shot dead in the street, for denying to hand over that which is inherently hers to control? Herself, her body, her smile, her response, and her phone number.
We have been taught to dishonour and mistreat the givers of life because ultimately that which gives life holds power. Ding! Ding! Ding! That is how those in perceived power, control the ball in their court: by teaching those who should be their partner, that they indeed are opponents—by reinforcing that men are bigger, stronger, and more valuable. Control is maintained by teaching that the only place for women is in the wallets, beds, and weaker sex module, and by destroying that which supports the uplifting of women. If there is no shift, power will always remain in the fear-filled clutches of the sons birthed from the very women they oppress.
Have we forgotten a history in which revolt, rebellion and anger has changed the course of a community, and more beautifully a nation. When freedom is desired, nothing stands in the way of attaining that freedom; and though the fight might take generations, we women want our freedom.
I could encourage us all with 5 steps on how to free women: listen to us; validate and do not negate our experiences; understand why feminism is necessary; do not violate our personal spaces; and do not sabotage our narrative of oppression, with excuses followed by inaction. But doing that would ensure the power stays in the hands of the oppressors, as a master freeing his slaves.
I could also give you a warm mushy feeling, by throwing a tangible object of our constant objectification into the bonfire of protest and revolution; but the only ‘object’ would be a woman’s body, my body, and I am not ready to lay my life down for a fight, I still have energy to combat. What I will do is leave you with these words by an anonymous source, “Destroy the idea that men should respect women because we are their daughters, mothers, and sisters. Reinforce the idea that men should respect women because we are people.”
In this system we so comfortably call home, the winners are white and they are male. In this system the ‘Just be glad you aren’t dead’ consolation prize are Men of Colour. Below both these systems, and still maintaining their respective order in the colour barrier, are women. As we leave the revolving door of violation that was the past few weeks, I can promise you the next woman you meet is bracing herself for what is to come.
L. Ardor is a writer who believes that everything in life stems from love. Her mission is to spread her philosophy to all brave enough to embrace. You can find Ms. Ardor on twitter: @LaLaArdor.