Recently a new hashtag has gotten a lot of use and a lot of conversation going on Twitter. #yesallwomen is a frank discussion about what it means to be a woman and to fear for your life. It started as a result of the recent shootings in California by a misogynistic young man. Some folks starting feeling sorry for him, blaming his mental health and, sadly, some misguided folks even started tweeting that the women he killed must have “had it coming.”
Let me be clear: no one deserves to be shot in cold blood. No one. Ever.
But this is where our society is being led.
Women are taught from a very young age to dress appropriately, never be out alone and watch out for our drinks when we’re out in bars. It’s okay for “boys to be boys” – what does that even mean? – but a woman who steps out of line is doing just that. Why is it okay for men to behave badly and if a woman is hurt it is always her fault in some way? (The California shooter claimed that he had been scorned by women and that’s why he lashed out and killed them and himself.)
See here for a good article and some of the tweets that this shooting sparked.
If I tell a man I just want to be friends – does that give him the right to kill me? Does it give him the right to even bully me or shout at me or degrade me in any way? No. Of course not. That’s what #yesallwomen is about – clearing up this misconception and getting something that is generally tolerated and accepted out in the open.
When I was little my father told me that men can be mean and “not all men are good guys.” When I went off to college he sat me down and told me to “not lift my skirt” for a man, no matter what the man told me, so as not to ruin my career. He also followed that up with “If you get into any kind of trouble you can call us – don’t be afraid.” I listened. And, if I’m being honest, it was sound advice. But now, as I’m older, here is what angers me about it.
But why did he have to tell me that? Why did I have to be forewarned?
Because little boys are not always taught to not lift up girls skirts and that “no” means “no.”
I asked my husband if his Dad ever taught him to be respectful of women – because my husband truly is respectful of me and every other woman. He said “No, but he showed me in how he respected my Mom.”
All too often in today’s society that is not the case.
Let’s look at some movies and TV shows shall we?
The movie Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby with Will Ferrell showed how his little boys disrespecting their mamma and grandma. They learned it from their father who also told his mother to “shut up old woman.” Ricky Bobby obviously did not model respect for his boys. This movie was one of Will Ferrell’s biggest money maker.
On “Two and A Half Men” (is this show still on – I hope not…) Charlie Sheen’s character used women for his own needs and frequently degraded them by lying to them, cheating on them and kicking them out when morning came around. Angus T. Jones character was Charlie’s nephew who lived in the same household. He was a child and saw this type of behavior from an uncle he looked up to. They had a large amount of viewers for years on this show. People thought it was funny how Charlie treated these women. They yucked it up when women were cast into the street and doors slammed in their faces. It was all in fun. Then when Angus got old enough to speak his peace about this show and how degrading it was for him to be on it – calling it filth – he was ridiculed, kicked off the show and laughed at for being “christian.” Why? Because he respects women and himself too much to continue on a show that has the opposite of his values? What is wrong with our society when we ridicule someone for having morals!?
#yesallwoman is about this ongoing sexism in our world and about how we, as a society, can change that. We can teach our children respect for one another – no matter what gender, race or background.
Let’s show some examples:
When a woman wears a skirt it’s okay to say “You look nice,” not “I’d like to see you without that skirt!”
When a woman climbs her way up the corporate ladder to be CEO let’s not say “Oh, she slept her way to the top” or “she must be a bitch” as if that’s the only way a woman could get to that position. Let’s give out the credit where credit is due.
When a woman – such as myself – has worked in an industry for over twelve years, fought for every position she has had, learned aspects of an industry she never thought she’d even have an interest in, and her elderly male co-worker still thinks she doesn’t have a clue and that the industry is still a “boys club” … let’s work to make that a thing of the past.
If we start now in teaching our young people that anyone can do any job and that no matter what someone wears, sounds like, or looks like – they deserve respect.
Have you been judged or condemned for your race or gender? Tell me your story – it’s important for it to be heard.