#YesAllWomen is a form of hash tag activism that has men and women all over the world bringing awareness to women’s rights issues. The movement condemns issues of sexist objectification, rape,intimidation and other forms of abuse.
This week I am publishing a guest feature by my dearest friend, Aniska Tonge. Aniska is a 22-year-old writer for Live Inspired Magazine (liveinspiredmag.com) and currently holds the prestigious title of Miss World Virgin Islands. I hope her words of wisdom finds you well, as she brings awareness to the #YesAllWomen movement.
#YesAllWomen because after my first abusive relationship, I thought pain was equal to love. I’ve never spoken about this publicly but I’m always the first one preaching on the responsibility of sharing your story so someone else doesn’t live it. So in an attempt to be true to form, here is a bit of that story.
I was too young. My definition of love did not surpass what I saw on tv or in movies. In my mind, every situation was a music video. If it matched the lyrics of a song, it was accurate. I was taught, essentially, that I am expected to be pretty, exceptionally pretty, damn near perfect, smart but not too smart, and tolerant. I was supposed to accept every single form of disrespect. As a woman, that was my place.
#YesAllWomen, because we are always supposed to be scared and fearful. Scared that he may leave us, fearful that he’d cheat, terrified that he’d hit you again. After “he” hit me I took him back. I didn’t know better, my environment was my teaching and I was taught to forgive. Even if he didn’t deserve it, that was my duty as a woman. Forgive.
And that’s exactly what I did. I accepted it because I’m part of a system that makes violence against women ok. It’s so “socially correct” that even the victim acknowledges it as what is right. When you refuse his advances or call him on his bullshit, he is supposed to punish you. It’s clear in the fact that there are more laws in place to protect the assailant (of any crime of abuse) than there are for the victim.
We deny, like many other things, the deep impact that our surroundings have on our personalities. It is not by coincidence that one out of five teenage girls have been violently threatened by a boyfriend if presented with a breakup. That is what our men are taught. “Beat her, show this woman her place. She can’t leave you. You chose her, so you own her.”
I think that’s why I’ve never dumped a boyfriend, not because I didn’t want to (trust me I did, I’ve dated some real class acts) but because that wasn’t my place. No matter the disrespect or emotional abuse, my place as a woman was to take it and tolerate it.
It took me years to stop the domino effect of my first abusive relationship, to stop accepting the “place” designated to me by a society driven by misogynistic values and views.
Every rape takes a part of me. So does every black eye and bruise, every honor killing. I am constantly reminded that I may never live in a world where I don’t have to be constantly fearful of the consequences of being a woman. I’m taunted by the idea that I am the lesser of the human species. Although I bleed and cry and scream just as my male counter parts, I may not ever be equal. My “Stop” or “No” are expected but not respected. We have undoubtedly created a cycle in which abuse and women are intimately linked.
The thing is, before there was a “#YesAllWomen” we had our stories, harbored and bottled like grey clouds in a jar on the highest shelf. We’d pushed them as far back as possible because if we didn’t see them then we couldn’t feel them. We’ve had ourselves fooled. There are millions of stories, millions of grey clouds that we cannot hide from.
Whatever this movement may be, whether it will last or fade, it is a start. I’m not afraid anymore of sharing that part of my life and I think that is the beginning. We have an extremely long way to go. The cycle is far from being broken and as hard as we fight those opposed will fight back. But, #YesAllWomen because maybe, just maybe, this gives us hope of living in a world where we don’t have to be afraid.
In the end it all surrounds us so it ultimately affects us. It’s much easier to say nothing but silence will never produce change.
Live Good Always,