We need to do better

On days like today, being a woman feels like such a shell to me. I’m a soul within a vessel, and in the time and space that we live in, this vessel isn’t recognized as having inherent value.

The Jian Ghomeshi verdict is a big eff you to sexual assault survivors that says, just take it. Further, it is a message to those who commit sexual assault that says, you can do whatever the fuck you want. GO AHEAD.

How many times have you been followed home at night? Had a stalker continue to contact you for weeks and months and years, their messaging getting increasingly more violent and threatening? How many ‘friends’ have crawled up next to you at a party, sliding their hands up your shirt, and down your pants? What about the time a man stood behind you at a bus stop, putting a camera phone under the back of your skirt, and no one said a thing? How many times have you peeled a man who was ‘just helping’ off your too drunk friend? You would put her in a cab and send her home, except there was that time a cab driver followed a friend into her building and tried to get into her apartment and under her clothes.

And the message from society is – who cares? It wasn’t that bad. Deal with it. Nothing really happened. It’s not a big deal. IT’S NOT A BIG DEAL.

IT’S NOT A BIG DEAL that you don’t feel safe walking home at night.

IT’S NOT A BIG DEAL that when you walk to get your morning coffee, you worry about what you wear, because you are not in the mood to hear what someone else thinks about your body.

IT’S NOT A BIG DEAL that you’ve learned to ignore all men who talk to you in public, even the nice ones, because if one more stranger tells you what they want to do to your thighs and your breasts, you are going to fucking scream.

IT’S NOT A BIG DEAL that you had to change your coffee shop, and the route you take home, because a strange man started following you slowly in their car and whispering cat calls at you as you just tried your best to get to work.

IT’S NOT A BIG DEAL that every time you’ve called the police to tell them about a man who continues to threaten you, they’ve said they can’t do anything about it unless something ‘actually happens’.

IT’S NOT A BIG DEAL that when you told your boss that your colleague’s advances made you uncomfortable, that they said that everyone deals with workplace conflict and that you should grow up, and then you continued to share an office with your harasser.

IT’S NOT A BIG DEAL if in every interaction in a new space, with new groups of men, that you automatically calculate your level of risk/safety, and potentially an exit strategy.

IT’S NOT A BIG DEAL that whenever a strange, and threatening man gets too close, and your adrenaline rises, that you think to yourself, “This is it. It’s finally happening. This is the time that I get raped.”

IT’S NOT A BIG DEAL that even when it happens, you better hope that you have both a rape kit and a video camera at your disposal, because otherwise, it didn’t happen at all.

We need to do better. We need to value and believe women. We need to believe survivors.