I had a conversation I wasn’t expecting with a bloke I know recently. He asked me, ‘What do you think women around the world were marching for on January 21st?’
‘We’re marching for equality.’
‘Equality? What do you mean?’
‘The same freedom that men take for granted. To be paid the same as men for the same job, to be treated with dignity and reverence; to be able to attract the same respect in every environment throughout the world. That’s what we are walking for.’
‘Women already have freedoms. Say if a man goes too far, in some circumstances the woman has to take some responsibility…. if she dresses provocatively for instance.’
I look at him, big eyed; speechless.
He continued, ‘women shouldn’t be badly behaved, that just attracts men’s attention. What about a woman who is drunk, lying on the sidewalk with her legs wide apart? That woman is at fault for attracting the wrong kind of attention.’
I was a teenager in the ‘60s and like millions of women at that time and since, have experienced inappropriate attention, touching, lewd remarks, groping and much more. I didn’t encourage or ask for it.
But it’s still goes on…big time.
‘NO, NO NO, this woman who has had too much to drink, out of her depth, in trouble, is in need of your help and the humane thing to do is to help her and make sure she is safe.’ Tears now fill my eyes.
The belief that women should not have the same freedoms is wrong. That they shouldn’t wear provocative clothes, should behave, should tone down, not attract attention. That women shouldn’t walk alone at night; is wrong.
It’s time for men to stand up and teach each other that it’s not ever right to take advantage of anyone, male or female when they need help. The humane approach is to help each other; man or woman, fragile or strong, black or white (and all the colours in between), gay or straight, old or young, Muslim or Christian, successful or struggling, sick or well, educated or not, born here or not.
We are all brothers and sisters.
Photo courtesy of equal rights for all.