Trigger Warning: Discussion of Gun Violence and Sexual Violence
Last week, like many of you, I was shaken to hear of the shootings in Isla Vista that specifically targeted women. These shootings resulted in the hashtag #YesAllWomen that has since been used to highlight the issues that all women face, especially sexual harassment and violence.
#YesAllWomen has garnered national attention with the frank and forthright way women have shared their experiences that are, unfortunately, representative of the experience of women everywhere… again. This tragedy is unique in that it coalesces two issues, that time after time, incidents happen that spark a national (and even international) debate, but results in little change. I can’t help but wonder, as a victim of violent crime, what more has to happen for something to actually change.
I had a different post planned for today, but I can’t get these issues out of my head. This site is for women, and as women, we are most vulnerable to violence. We are more than three times more likely to be murdered by an intimate partner than men. Our chances of being raped? Almost 1 in 3. Bottom line? We aren’t safe. Not at home, not at work, and not while traveling.
In all likelihood, if you’re reading this post, you understand that this is a problem. You’ve been sexually harassed or you know someone who has. You might even be a victim of sexual violence. You’re probably wondering how we can change the statistics, I know I am. The problem is, there isn’t any one size fits all solution. Violence against women is, by and large, perpetuated by men. Until all men recognize that they do not have a right to a woman’s body simply because they have a penis, women won’t be safe.
Men play an incredibly important role in changing the outlook for women in this country. Women can’t do it alone, we need to work together to prevent violence against women. It doesn’t stop with women either. People who identify as LBGTQ are also incredibly vulnerable to violence, as are people who don’t identify themselves as a “man” or “woman” on the gender spectrum. We need to be each other’s ally.
Equality is a word we hear a lot these days, marriage equality, gender equality, etc., and equality is what it will take to effect lasting change. It is a sad reflection of the state of society that there are still people who don’t believe that all people are equal and will do whatever they can to assure that some people don’t have the same rights as others. In America, that often means that the same people who claim to love our Constitution attempt to use it to maintain inequality.
We, as Americans, live in a culture that is inured to violence. We are no longer surprised when we hear about yet another mass shooting. Many of us are discouraged that not even the mass murder of innocent school children could convince Congress to act in the interest of the most vulnerable of our society.
Our system is broken; we cannot protect children, we cannot protect women, and we cannot help the mentally ill. I know how it feels to watch a friend you love destroy their life and become another person because of a lack of access to mental health care, turning into someone who picked up a gun and broke into my home and held me hostage. I have heard the gunshots that end a life. I know what gun violence is. This isn’t a Second Amendment issue, this is an issue of caring about the safety of our citizens.
How many more people have to die before we act?
We all have a story. That is why #YesAllWomen is so powerful. We need to tell our stories, and to let everyone know that the stories we are telling now are not the stories we want our children and grandchildren to tell. Our words can make a difference, and society can change. We can live in a world where #YesAllWomen are safe.