Everyone…too

The “me too” campaign is going strong as more women – and men! – share stories and testimonials of what they’ve experienced or witnessed others live through, and although I am overjoyed that light is finally being shed on a crucial matter, I am saddened by many people’s reactions. For instance, every #metoo posted equals three “yeah so what? There are more urgent matters like war”.

Yes there are terrible things happening all over the world, does that mean we should neglect the abused in favour of things we mostly cannot handle ourselves? This is a matter we can fix, or help diminish by removing the taboo label off this behavioral herpes that sweeps our nations still. It is a worldwide issue, something that has been shut up in diaries, whispered and hushed for too long, something nobody should have to endure in silence or be silenced for having endured.

Abuse and assault of all kinds are what bring disease to our societies, mental disease, heart disease, invisible illnesses that plague so many secretly because this world is too blind to see and too ashamed to acknowledge that this is real and dire to address. We cannot sprinkle glitter on the matter and say “oh it’s a Hollywood thing”; it’s in your city too, in your street, at your kids’ school and your wife’s workplace, in your friend’s home and at the supermarket. It’s what keeps your neighbour from sleeping soundly or what makes your mother lock her door twice.

I have lived through too many things to allow people to disregard this issue, to trivialise my or anyone’s life altering encounters. I have been groped in taxis, spoken to graphically by strangers, talked to inappropriately at wotk, followed on my birthday as I left the metro alone at night and ran for my life only to have a pseudo friend ask me if at least my almost aggressor was cute. How could being cute make up for whatever could’ve happened if my feet had failed me? How could being cute make up for what could’ve broken inside me if two strangers hadn’t interfered and ran with me for a while? He wasn’t cute. He was scary and tall and made me dread walking at night, an activity I had always loved, and that whether alone or accompanied. He was a criminal and he stole my sense of security.

I wasn’t dressed in a revealing way. I didn’t mislead him with my words. I didn’t instigate him in any other way than by being there at that moment, when he decided I would make an excellent prey. There are no valid reasons, no possible excuses for such acts. There are urgent matters all around us, but right now we should open our eyes and ears and fight for more justice, push our faltering societies to act and alter our defective upbringing so that future generations don’t live through this fear we have borne for too long because speaking up would lead nowhere or would bring shame upon us. It’s not our fault. We didn’t ask for it and we don’t deserve it.

It is easy to forget that we are the actors not only of our own lives but others’ too; we are not mere extras in the picture, we’re supporting actors engaged for the betterment of each other’s days. You can help change things, and #MeToo.

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Every day is women’s day

Social media reminded me as soon as I opened my eyes that it was international women’s day, and I cannot help but compare it to all other hypocritical celebratory days like Valentine’s or even Independence. Let’s drink to women everywhere so tomorrow we can go back to throwing the empty bottles at their faces for daring to be just that: women.

It took me several years to appreciate the fact that I was a woman, to celebrate my double x chromosomes and proudly wear the label. As a child, all I could distinguish of the female gender was the “fragile” stamp we seemed to all receive at birth, one we couldn’t wash off or replace in a society too stubborn to acknowledge our strength, our power and our deserving all the same rights and opportunities as our male counterparts. Then I woke up, and how glad I was to finally brandish my lipstick and fire away all the sparks my womanhood had bestowed upon me.

However I can’t shake the feeling that giving women a day to celebrate them somewhat diminishes their value, just like Valentine’s or mother’s and father’s day diminish all the fireworks our loved ones deserves every single day. It also feels filled with hypocrisy, the way everyone picks up pink pens and paper on this one day, writes a post on Facebook quoting whichever prominent feminist the internet provides in the search results, and then goes back to not caring or worse, going against what feminism stands for the day after. Your neighbour is a human you should respect, not catcall when she picks up her newspaper in her bathrobe. Your waitress is serving you to pay her bills, not to worship all the nonsense you think you are entitled to utter as a paying customer. That girl didn’t wear a skirt for you, she wore it because she feels good in it. That lady is feeding her child so he is well nourished and can grow to become someone who will stand up for the mothers you deny the right to breastfeed in public spaces because it makes you queasy. Every woman is a being to be respected just like any other being on Earth, with beautiful superpowers like those of procreation and overflowing emotion and empathy. To all those who still doubt it, our hormones are one of our sources of magic.

Ultimately, everyday should be women’s day and mother’s day and an occasion for all those beautiful celebrations to remind us that we should love each other with no boundaries, no misogyny or sexism or antiquated patriarchal ideas on the place of women in society. A woman’s place is wherever she deems fit, wherever she feels comfortable, wherever she feels useful and hopefully, wherever that is, she can feel safe and strong.