The other day I overheard a group of women talking about something they’d seen on social media. A woman they all knew had reported a sexual assault she had suffered earlier that night on her Facebook page. She had claimed a man, who the group of women were all acquainted with, had inappropriately grabbed her in a local night club.
Immediately, the women started accusing the girl of being intoxicated, because she had posted her message early in the morning. They said that because of this she had no credibility, and they claimed the encounter she described was not even remotely close to what they considered to be sexual assault. They also criticized the fact that she was willing to humiliate the man through social media.
While I sat there listening to their unbelievable lack of empathy, I started thinking about gender congruence amongst women in Mexico.
One out of three women worldwide will experience some sort of physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. I want to emphasize how important this issue is; these numbers are rising as I write. So, if you read the event I described at the beginning of this article and felt it to be unimportant, please think again.
Historically, women have had to fight for equality and basic human rights. I want to write about this issue because, to my astonishment, there are women in my country who are bothered by all of the women who are fighting for social development and gender equality.
The first step is to try not to let your culturally-absorbed presumptions drive you. These presumptions are not our fault, but as Eliezer Yudkowksy said: “you are personally responsible for becoming more ethical than the society you grew up in.” Instead of judging a woman who has recently gone through an abortion, who better than other women to understand and acknowledge our body is our own and nobody else’s? Stop judging your next door neighbor if she wants to express her sexuality to the fullest, stop name-calling your classmate because of her bold clothing. If anything like this has ever crossed your mind, I encourage you to rethink how these ‘harmless thoughts’ are affecting the struggle we are all up against.
This is for all my Latin-American women, and any other women or girl who can relate: let’s put aside our religious or cultural views, this is about basic gender coexistence. It may sound clichéd, but is all starts with us as women – as united women. Stop looking down on women and realize that at this moment, now more than ever, we need to stop bringing each other down.
There are important and historic things happening in our time, for example, the recently enacted policy regarding the withdrawal of federal funds to non-governmental organizations related to sexual health in the United States. I want to focus on our gender’s reality today and also on the view some women still have towards other women. We mustn’t forget we are the first ones who need to support each other. Otherwise, seven white men in another country will continue to make these decisions for us, and we can’t let that happen.
Even if this doesn’t affect you directly; we need to create more awareness and demonstrate our disapproval, whether by taking part in worldwide marches, expressing ourselves through social media or signing online petitions. If you think other women are the best support group there could be, share this article and discuss it with the women in your life.
Cover photo credit: Amanda Taylor