Putting an end to sexual violence against women
Last year was a pivotal moment for the #MeToo movement as brave women emerged sharing their stories of sexual harassment. The campaign took not only Hollywood but the entire United States by storm. Females accused men in positions of power for the heinous crimes committed against them, and men across the board became scared. They started asking questions like: “If my coworker doesn’t wear a bra to work, can I tell her that is inappropriate without being labeled as a perpetrator?” and “How many times do I have to ask for consent before I get intimate with a woman who isn’t my spouse or girlfriend?”
Males everywhere started walking on eggshells, and some even went as far as getting a consent form signed before sex. Men of high status began making women sign NDAs (non-disclosure agreements) just so no one could turn against them. Every day we woke up with someone new stepping down from their role, issuing an apology, or denying allegations. We all had to redefine sexual harassment. Some women found justice while others used the movement to their advantage to throw men under the bus. It was a time in which no one wanted to make headlines.
Image courtesy of Iridescent Women
I applaud what the #MeToo movement started because it gave women a voice to be able to speak for themselves, especially in work environments where some men seemed untouchable. However, the fight against sexual crimes is far from over. We’ve all continued to suffer from this epidemic that can be found across every organization around the entire world—some people more personally than others. It’s important to note if specific industries like pornography are still standing tall, there’s still work to be done.
The objectification of women is not ok in any arena. If we want to continue the fight against sexual crimes, we have to start at the root.
Although I haven’t experienced any violent sex crimes (thank God), I have had my share of unwanted sexual advances. It started when I was little, probably around five years old, when I was visiting my aunt and her family. She had a young neighbor who was about 17 at the time, who always came around the house. He loved to play with me, and I also enjoyed it. It wasn’t until after I had reached the age of about 12 that I realized the young man was trying to kiss me all those times we were playing rough. He struggled with me, and I remember always blocking off my face so that he wouldn’t get to my lips. At that time I just laughed because I didn’t know what was happening. Years later when I saw him at a cousin’s wedding, I played it cool and went my way after saying hello.
Another example was in my pre-teen years when my older cousin’s friend came around to my parent’s house. He put his hands underneath my top and was caressing my back. It felt uncomfortable, and I knew it wasn’t right. He only did it when we were alone.
I just avoided him after that incident and couldn’t tell my mom or cousin what happened.
The last of it I experienced in high school. There was a lousy kid that no one liked. He came in from another town, so his values didn’t line up with what we learned. One day he backed me into a corner and began to touch me inappropriately. He wanted to make out with me, but I refused. I pleaded for him to let me go, and he threatened to beat me up until someone came to my rescue. I remember going home that day and crying my eyes out. In my diary, I wrote it was the worse day of my life, and I’m sure that is how it felt at the time. Again I couldn’t bring myself to tell my parents, let alone the school authorities. I was scared for my life because of his threats, so I kept mute.
Countries like Nigeria are made up of communities, where parents are not comfortable having the birds and the bees conversation with their children. If a child is sexually molested or abused, he or she feels shame, and can’t share it with anyone. Alone and young, a victim will lock up this secret within themselves and carry on in pain. What I know from experience is that it slowly eats you up inside. If you can bear it, #WhyIDidn’tReport a hashtag that trended on Twitter, sheds light on why so many people stay silent. I thank God I never experienced the gravity of harassment that some of the women in the media have experienced, but I know and believe any abuse is not okay. I am also proud of everyone who has spoken up to expose assault.
Awareness helps people heal and flee from unsafe situations.
If you have experienced sexual harassment at your school, workplace, church, home, or anywhere else, speak up! Don’t carry the burden alone. Your voice can and will help other women. Together we can put an end to this age-old war against females. We also need the right men to stand and fight with us. Let’s make our workplace an environment in which we can thrive, schools a safe place in which we can learn, and churches a sanctuary in which we can worship and trust our spiritual leaders won’t take advantage of us.
Countless organizations are designed to fight against sex crimes. Companies like A21, founded by Christine Caine, help free young women from sex trafficking around the world. You can also learn more about the #MeToo movement by visiting their site: metoomvmt.org.
This article can also be found on Iridescent Women.