To end oppression means to redefine the standards and create new normalcies.

For decades, women have suffered through oppression and being silenced by our male counterparts. Fighting for equality in every aspects of our lives, voting was just the beginning of the struggle. In America today women are paid 20% less than our male counterparts, according to the Institute for Womens Policy Research. One third more women than men have college degrees and are surpassing men in graduate degrees. Women are raising the bar and expected to be the top earners in the foreseeable future due to setting the standard high and outpacing men in higher education. Hopefully, in the future, the idea of wage gaps lies solely in experience and resume, rather than genitals. The progression of wage gaps is amazing, but has been outshined in 2017,  by a slightly more difficult topic to speak on; rape, domestic violence and sexual assault.

Womens oppression often times lies in our inability to effectively empower ourselves during times of sexual assault, rape and domestic violence scenarios. For decades, women have been subjected to male figures fondling,  inappropriately gesturing, touching and raping women. Men have shown fragility of their egos, by their inability to accept “no,”  resulting in beating and raping women, for decades. In many scenarios, women have been fondled, and touched ever so slightly making the situation “less dramatic,” but nonetheless a situation of assault, that have been swept under the rug. In other scenarios, women are  forced into sex through coercion, where a male is so desperate to have sexual intercourse with a woman that his persistence and intimidation leads to a vulnerable woman saying yes. This in fact is rape, and although there was “consent”, consent through fear should be punishable and treated the same as a rape case.

But, in society today, even a rape case can be pushed out the door, and swept under the rug. Normalizing assault has been done through the idea that women should not go out alone at night, should not get too drunk or wear short clothing, women shouldn’t invite a man over to her house for just a movie and not expect him to want anything else. We spend so much time normalizing verbal and sexual assault to our daughters and even our sons that as they grow and develop, they are taught to “play their role.” The role for men is to “respect a woman,” but whomever is teaching these respect values has missed key parts of a functioning respectful male. As for our young girls, we are teaching them to, “not be in the wrong place at the wrong time,” and if they are, they were asking for everything they got.

Women are silenced and ridiculed in ways that make oppression seem nonexistent. For example, in the small town I live in now here in Ohio, a young girl was raped and her friend posted on a social media platform about the situation, leading with no facts or a background story. There are several things up for discussion based off of this one post. Do I believe that the young lady should have posted on a social media platform, with pictures of these young men and calling them rapist. No. I do believe that women have felt powerless for so long that now,  there is a voice and other women speaking up and empowering a type of sisterhood that says “were all here for you, use your voice,” many women are misguided and unsure of how to let it all out. We want to be heard, we want to warn other women and tell him that there are predators out there. But, how do we do this ? How do we step forward without being ridiculed and shamed? How do we step forward without hurting ourselves as well as pointing the finger of the suspect, before police action is taken?

Womens resources are not efficiently spoken on and women feel they have no direct sources, other than police. I have had the opportunity to ask many women in my circle if they knew about the rape assistance programs offered by the state and hospitals, and many said no. I have helped many women who have been raped and assaulted who have admitted that knowing a majority of the police force is men, the idea of coming out to a man and describing what happened in detail is intimidating and scary. What most women do not know, is that after a case of DV, rape and SA they are afforded a advocate that properly guides uneducated police, and investigators on how to word questions, when to give breaks as well as offering just someone to be with during these times. Women do not know of these resources, and getting these advocacies known is important. Local support groups are out there, but these resources are not “common knowledge.”

 The other piece of this post that needs discussion is the response to this woman’s outcry for her friend. The amount of people asking for a background story is comprehensible an I can fully understand. You cannot just “out” someone without sharing details confirming your accusations and a police report to back up your story. It was in this post though, where the lack of empathy and compassion, and the overall concern for the alleged victim was missing . I saw so many men on this post saying they knew these men and they knew they weren’t the type of men to commit such a heinous act.

Dear Men, Your male friends will not ever show you their “rapey tendencies,” because they in fact do not want to have sex with you. They will never come out to you and say, “yo, I raped this girl last night.” And if they did, how would you feel, would you ask more questions, would you turn your friend in? You as a man, sitting in front of your best friend and he has told you that she said no, and he took it anyways, how do you respond?

Why did no one ask if  the victim was okay, or encourage her to go to police authority?  Posting on social media can be a dangerous platform, because of the many people who sit behind a computer or cellphone screen fighting to be heard or share their views, many are not so favorable to say the least. The low levels of compassion shown on this post and the many post made by these young mens friends on their behalf is why women do not come forward, they do not go to police. Women are silenced in ways that are normalized by society, starting with the reaction of men, defending their friends.

The reactions of the many keyboard warriors inadvertently oppressed this young woman and the voice she already felt she did not have. Her friend made a mistake by posting such a post, but I can imagine her post was made to bring awareness . Her efforts could have been more efficient and maximized by assisting her friend in other ways, by encouraging police involvement and support from professionals. But, those who  called this young lady out of her name, or those who immediately pointed fingers negatively in opposition to the idea this crime may have been committed, “because these are good boys,” have silenced this young lady and her story.

How can we create a society of balance. If a woman has shared her story or a friend has shared a story on behalf of a friend,  someone educates women on the steps to take for survivors, as well as the way people approach the victim. As for the suspect, I would love to think that these men that were outraged and crying out their homeboys were great people, were also asking deeper questions. You don’t have to point fingers to be inquisitive, but do you really want a rapist in your friends circle? How can we get out of this never ending cycle of silencing the victim, so her voice can be heard without backlash or fear of being shunned by an entire neighborhood of people.

Knowledge is power. Teaching men to keep their hands to themselves is no longer an effective strategy. We have to teach them, the first no means no. Begging for sex and then receiving a yes, may not mean full consent and being able to understand you may have raped a woman by that definition alone. Teaching men that NO IS NO. Teaching men that sexual assault is grabbing a girl by any body part, making explicit comments is verbal assault. The definition of a respectful male needs to be expanded upon and then normalized. Finding a man that fits these “standards” should not be hard to come by.

 Teaching women that social media is not our platform unless we are sharing research articles or resource groups to be apart of. Teaching women how to effectively use our voices as tools and not weapons.

To end oppression means to redefine the standards and create new normalcies.

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