You may have heard of a little social media trend going on these days called “#YesAllWomen.”
This little movement grew out of the Santa Barbara tragedy in which a mentally tortured young adult male wrote an anti-women manifesto and proceeded to stab his three male roommates and shoot two sorority girls.
Let me preface what is to follow by saying that I in no way, shape, or form am trying to diminish the fates of those two girls.
But there are a few things off kilter about this social movement.
1. The original event and subsequent media frenzy
4 men: 2 women. 3 murders of an incredibly personal nature + 1 shooting of a male: 2 murders of random girls who the shooter didn’t know and simply were chosen to represent his hatred of the female gender.
So the first thing that is off-putting to me is that the families of the male victims and the male victims themselves are ignored by the public (even though really, they’re the bigger story. Why did Elliot Rodger kill his male roommates/visitor in such a horrifically personal manner when his troubles were supposedly with women?)
(Side note: The media has also forgotten that Rodger fatally shot a male student inside a store during his spree as well).
(Side note the second: Rodger’s manifesto also included his hatred of racial minorities and interracial couples. Which is interesting as all three of his roommates were not white).
Yet because of Rodger’s anti-women rants within his manifesto and the tendency of the media and American public to jump on anything remotely anti-feminism, the two girls picked at random are the ones cried over in the news and lamented for, while the four men go by unnoticed. And there is something incredibly sad and incredibly unfair about that. A murder is a murder regardless of what manifestos the murderer left behind. It’s equally tragic, equally heartbreaking. And it is disturbing that that the majority of Americans apparently do not acknowledge that fact.
Still with me? Ok. Pulling out all the stops for this next one. If you do nothing else today, try to really think through this, especially if you’ve taken part in #YesAllWomen recently.
2. How it really is in the US
I’m going to quantify something for a moment.
If you are a woman living a country that gives you the right to learn, to work, and/or to make your own choices, if you can read, and have a high school diploma (or GED), the world owes you absolutely nothing.
And let’s be honest. Those parameters fit most women in the US, which is where this social trend originated so that’s where I’m going to start with my comparisons.
According to the CIA, women in the US are in school until they are 17 on average (as of 2011).
99% of US women can read. 94.7% of US women graduate high school. The latter statistic is ranked 14th in the world as of 2010, according to the United Nations.
If you’re part of the very, very small percentage of women who lives in the US and doesn’t fit within these statistics: I empathize with you and you can ignored everything from here on out.
Otherwise, listen up.
The world owes you nothing because you, as an American woman, have more freedom, have more rights, and have more privileges than women in third-world countries (and even some second-world countries) could even begin to visualize or comprehend.
“But Becky, why are you going on and on about this when this movement is about women’s rights and freedom worldwide?”
I’m going on and on about this because that may have been the intention of the original poster of “#YesAllWomen” but that is certainly not what this has become nor what it stands for.
The amount of incredibly inconsiderate, selfish, egotistical, oblivious, self-indulgent, woe-is-me tweets and facebook posts and blog posts I’ve seen since this movement started is unbelievable and frankly, pisses me off.
“I’m oppressed as a college-educated white female living in Manhattan because I can’t wear what I want without men gawking at me and getting the wrong idea.”
Boo. Freaking. Hoo.
Let me qualify that by saying that there is no excuse for rape ever ever ever I don’t care what a woman is wearing or acting etc. It’s intolerable and unacceptable and should be punished with harsh measures (as it often is).
But if you’re going to sit there and wear a skin tight dress and flirt with the bartender, and then complain because he won’t/can’t keep his eyes on your face?
Spare me the sob story.
If you’re going to sit there and complain because women are taught not to leave their drink alone instead of teaching men how not to drug people?
Talk to someone else.
There are bad people in this world. And yes, the overarching grand solution is to alleviate that by teaching proper behavior, teach men (AND women) how to be proper, respectful adults. But the fact remains that there are bad people in this world. So to feel downtrodden because you have to take a minuscule precautionary measure is really a bit much.
So what does this have to do with my statement that the world owes you nothing?
Consider the following:
3. Sexual Assault
According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, the US ranks first for the number of reported rapes every year (83,425 in 2011). Not a stellar statistic but let’s also keep in mind that that is .027% of the population and is considered accurate.
Meanwhile, let’s consider India. There are only 24,206 reported rapes every year, and in a population of 1.2 billion, that makes .002% of the population. So less than the US. Doesn’t look good for us so far. So why am I making this comparison when it obviously doesn’t go in my favor?
Ponder this: India’s sexual crime rate has increased 7.1% since 2010 according to the country’s National Crime Record Bureau. “(The) time has come that we cannot merely go by statistics of this increasing crime. It is misleading and against one reported rape case there are at least 30 cases which go unreported”–National Congress Party’s secretary Devi Prasad Tripathi.
If you go with that ratio (considered to be a more accurate representation), than the rape percentage increases dramatically, and above that of the US, to .073%.
What does that mean in real-life terms?
It means that in the US, most rapes are recorded and the rapist sought after and severely punished if caught. (There are exceptions. But don’t you dare go throwing specific cases in my face because we all know that those are the exceptions, not the rule. Fact is, if you’re raped in the US, you have a better chance than the rest of the world of your attacker being brought to justice).
It means that in India, there’s a high probability that your rapist will never come into a courtroom in the first place, much less be punished. It means that you live in a culture of silence and of fear. Speaking out does more harm than suffering alone.
Also know this: India’s female literacy rate is 48.3%. Only 26.6% graduate high school. So in addition to an increasing sexual assault problem, if you’re a woman in India, you also have very little chance of creating a better life for yourself.
Or Lesotho, a small African nation near South Africa.
Its rape percentage? .08%. Amount of women who graduate high school? 21.8% of the population. Similar situation to India.
Sound scary enough yet for women worldwide?
4. Let’s consider human trafficking and the sex trade.
“It is the fastest-growing business of organized crime and the third-largest criminal enterprise in the world.2 The majority of sex trafficking is international, with victims taken from such places as South and Southeast Asia, the former Soviet Union, Central and South America, and other less developed areas…”–FBI. The FBI also adds that it is a growing problem even in Europe and North America.
- At least 20.9 million adults and children are bought and sold worldwide into commercial sexual servitude, forced labor and bonded labor.2
- About 2 million children are exploited every year in the global commercial sex trade.3
- Almost 6 in 10 identified trafficking survivors were trafficked for sexual exploitation.4
- Women and girls make up 98% of victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation.5
In 2012, approximately 35% of human trafficking victims internationally were found to be from Sub-Saharan Africa. 69% were from East Asia. (United Nations)
Human trafficking, especially for women, usually equates becoming an unwilling part of the sex industry.
Domestic trafficking (where victims are trafficked within their own country of origin not shipped elsewhere) is also becoming a huge problem. Now women in these countries no longer have to fear just foreigners. They have to fear men and women from within their own country who either A. Are pure evil and simply want to profit. Or B. Are family members who sell their daughters/nieces/etc. for money simply to survive.
The most terrifying statistic of them all might be this one though:
You pair that with the fact that 98% of all victims are female and do the calculations.
The overwhelming majority of slaves (sexual and otherwise) from Africa and the Middle East are female children under the age of 16.
Ponder all of that for a moment while you watch THIS VIDEO.
Now you sit there and tell me that your desire to wear what you want without being whistled at equates to the utter inhumanity all of the above.
You sit there and tell me that watching your drink is too high a price to pay to be able to have fun safely, a luxury most girls do not have worldwide.
You sit there and complain about how the “friend zone” is only made up by sexually-frustrated males and that’s upsetting to you as a woman, while many women do not have the luxury of choosing whom they are partnered with (either through arranged marriages or sexual assault).
You sit there and post glib and incredibly untrue things like this when a fetus can be cast aside legally yet there is no punishment in many countries for human traffickers nor rapists.
You have the audacity to sit there and post comparisons between women today (as a white female in suburban Indianapolis) and the Jews of WWII (Yes. That was a post I saw. It was subsequently deleted a few hours later. But the damage was done. For the record, women are not systematically killed in a four-year time span nor have they been almost completely eradicated in any one continent or country e.g. Poland).
You sit there and tell me that I, as a white, middle-class, college-educated (on scholarship!) female living in the US with her own job who is not forced into an arranged marriage nor into sex slavery, should feel downtrodden by society and should be outraged.
Forgive me if I do not fall over at your tales of suburban woe and oppression.
Talk to me when you’re an 18-year old American girl in foster care whose single mother was a drug addict and you believe prostitution is your only chance at making a decent living.
Talk to me when you are a 14-year old girl in Cambodia who was sold to the sex industry by her parents.
Talk to me when you are a 30-year old woman in India who cannot write her children’s names.
Talk to me when you’re a mother of four children whose father was gunned down for his religion in Colombia and now you and your family face death threats as well.
Talk to me when you are an 18-year old in Turkey who has graciously been allowed to finish high school by your father but now, you are told that you are to be hidden away for the rest of your life by a husband you did not choose.
Talk to me when you are a young mother here in the United States who is holding down four jobs to support her young children for whom “fun” is a foreign concept.
So no. I will not participate in #YesAllWomen. I will not buy in to the neo-feminist idea that the world owes every single woman all she asks and more. I will not conform to the idea that I am a victim simply because of my gender. I will not compare myself to women around the world who are truly and deeply suffering and being forced to do unspeakable things, or being forced to live with no chance at improving their quality of life via education nor employment.
I will not lend my voice to the masses who cannot see beyond their own self-indulgent viewpoint.
Except for this.
#YesAllWomen have a duty and responsibility not to feel sorry for ourselves and instead, to have compassion for those who truly deserve our sorrow and need our aid.
Want to learn more about trafficking and/or get involved in the fight against the international human rights issue? Or learn more about women’s rights internationally in general?
Nefarious: Merchant of Souls
Purchased (Based here in Indy!)
Dept. of Homeland Security
Alliance for International Women’s Rights
There are many, many more organizations around the world working to better the lives of women who have little to no means to do so themselves. These are simply the few that I either have been impacted by personally or have close friends involved with these organizations.