We're told the onus of sexual assault and harassment falls on us. Maybe it’s time we start throwing the punches.
After years of men telling women not to allow themselves to become a victim, after decades of tips and advice on how to avoid being raped, groped, and sexually assaulted, after centuries of having the actions of men fall on our shoulders so that we take the blame for our own harassment, women are fighting back.
In June, a woman was groped outside of a San Francisco bar. She told her friend who followed the man and told him he couldn’t do that. The man turned around, spit in her face and swung at her.
The friend was MMA fighter Leslie Smith, and she and another woman fighter took him out after he attempted to throw the first punch and grabbed onto her hair instead, trying to force her down.
But it’s not just trained fighters who are taking on this sexual harassment battle with their fists. In July, in India, a young girl dragged a boy into a police department and beat him with her shoe until he apologized for harassing her at school, during a time when it’s said treatment of women there is going from bad to worse. And just a few weeks later, a female police officer Tased and beat a man for sexual assault in Egypt. The country is well known for its attacks on women in its crowds, particularly after journalist Lara Logan was brutally assaulted while reporting there four years ago. Her injuries were so severe that she was recently readmitted to the hospital for complications.
You would think—what with the constant refrain for women to be cautious, be aware, and even to take self-defense classes to protect themselves against these attacks—that these actions would be lauded and approved by the same society which tells women it is up to them not to get raped.
Instead, around the internet and the globe, men are speaking out against this “excessive violence.”
They have thrown out every argument: Trained fighters are responsible for having control, would it still be okay if they had killed the men, equality means taking the bad with the good and women should be held to the same standard as men when it comes to physical violence, the outcome doesn’t match the provocation, this wouldn’t hold up in court. I could go on.
But those arguments are absolutely useless. They would only mean something if each incident was looked at as a snapshot, as an individual case that arose from nothing. It is easy to comfortably ignore the longitudinal, systemic derision of women in our society in this way. But these cases are not isolated. They are a result of societal conditioning where a man touching a woman or sexually harassing or assaulting her is considered “normal” and not worthy of prosecution. Society views the touch of a man and the leer of a man and the bully attitude of a man when confronted with his bad behavior as acceptable because it happens every day. And where are the courts, then? Even when men write entire manifestos about their hatred of women after murdering them, we still avert our eyes to the problem.
The majority of all women have been sexually assaulted at least once, and no one cares. We’re told being touched in an unwelcome manner is not a big deal. It’s just part of life. Meanwhile, a few men in the history of mankind receive immediate retributions for their actions, and we’re expected to bend over backward to protect their rights, honor, dignity and lives. When they were the ones who provoked the situation to begin with after society literally set up self-defense courses for women specifically to combat sexual assault. We’re told to defend ourselves, then we’re told not to defend ourselves too much. And there is still no winning for women in a world where countless numbers get groped, harassed, assaulted and raped every single day.
I wish every woman who was touched inappropriately without consent by a man had the skills to beat him up. Maybe if America saw the hundreds of men lying in the street bloodied by the results of their actions, we would finally take sexual assault seriously. And as for promoting violence and two wrongs not making a right? How many women have to be victimized for this wrong to be addressed? Too many. And since that is the case, maybe it is time to take matters into our own hands.
AN INDEPENDENT FREE PRESS HAS NEVER BEEN MORE IMPORTANT.
Your financial support helps DAME continue to cover the critical policies, politics social changes impacting woman and their allies.