Violence against women is a pervasive part of our culture. It serves to keep women from participating equally in society. It's job is to perpetuate fear.
No one enjoys discussing violence. There's a level of vulnerability people feel, especially if the victim looks like them. They blame her - she's too this or that, or should have dressed a certain way. If you listen carefully, you can hear the fear and the desire to distance. As a culture, we don't go toward the survivor, gather around her and lift her up. Instead, we question her and pick apart her choices and decisions.
By portraying the victims' and survivors' choices as the cause of violence and denying the absurd level of violence that exists, they reassure themselves it won't happen to them or those they love. But the reality is that no one asks to be raped, abused, murdered. No one asks to be subject to manipulation, degradation, and psychological abuse. No one asks for workplace harassment and bullying.
Not only are women not asking to be harmed, we also aren’t being protected from harm either. Our leadership, laws, policing, and system of justice are wholly inadequate means to stop this very personal violence that mostly happens behind closed doors. In fact, these systems are designed to react AFTER abuse has occurred, not prevent it.
There's little women can do or be to prevent becoming a statistic. This violence knows no boundaries. You can make your own money, live in a pleasant neighborhood, have a great education and job, dress like a nun. None of that reduces your chances of being a victim. Neither does your race, religion, or your sexual orientation.
Having a boyfriend or getting married is the biggest risk any woman takes in her lifetime. Pepper spray isn't going to stop that. While men are more likely than women to be attacked on the street, for women, it's in our very homes, and our workplaces. Think about it. To avoid the chance of violence, we would need to avoid our own homes and workplaces.
Violence against women is not a woman's issue. It's a male violence issue. The tendency for men to see gender violence as a woman's issue and avoid discussing it or taking action is a severe problem, and in my opinion, the largest barrier to stopping these daily atrocities.
Men are responsible for fixing the culture they are a member of. To not actively do something is to perpetuate a culture that breeds violence against women in all it's forms. Men could actually make a dent in this thing. Men, if they joined together, could stop this all together. And after 60 years of women's rights, they are still not listening. For those that are, here's 5 things you can stop doing and start doing today to end violence against women.