Mahek Khetani | Staff Writer
Walking down an alley, clutching our bags so tightly, our knuckles turn white, all of the while avoiding contact with the group of lust driven men whistling away various vulgarities. We zip up our jackets and make a beeline to our car. All to avoid any unwanted advances.
Most women know this feeling. The fear that something will happen just because we’re… women. Though according to a recent study, instances like these are just a mere norm in society, meaning the number of cases of harassment, rape and sexism are being unreported because it ‘happens all the time.’
“I believe that anyway of sexual objectification is completely wrong but I also understand how it is seen as ‘normal’. The way the media shows women as sexualized objects and little to nothing more, will instill into people’s minds that that’s all that women are. It is a serious problem I believe and is something that feminists everywhere, including myself, are fighting against,” said sophomore Elena Hoffman.
With the conventionalism of sexual harassment, it gives society a reason to revert back to the olden ways, rather than moving forward into an egalitarian world for both sexes. This almost patriarchal mindset is being aided by the young girls of our generation who can’t seem to see the problem within this.
“I think that it’s sad that society has come to this conclusion; that this is a social norm. Because people do joke about it and just brush it off, it becomes the “norm”. I’ve noticed that some women actually embrace the fact that their bodies are just supposed to be used as objects of sex and it’s sad to see this happening because their value is so much more than gold and silver,” said junior Hannah Laine Ingham.
In most social situations, every offensive remark is supposed to be followed by a ‘just kidding,’ therefore desensitizing young girls to any suggestive or inappropriate behavior, causing them to carry on with the idea that a ‘playful’ but unwanted gesture is no big deal.
“I believe [girls] forget that they are precious treasures. Children are brought up to recognize patterns in social behavior like how one learns to speak a certain language or even walk. So when girls see it, most think it is a compliment because true gentlemen are dying off and the SnapBack, high socks and cargo pants are taking over and these boys just want a one night stand or think it’s a quick way to a woman’s heart,” said Ingham.
Freshman Jordan Herrera explains that in his opinion women aren’t necessarily comfortable with being mistreated but rather they refuse to speak up for themselves, thus giving men no reason to stop teasing.
“At some point I think I may have involuntarily ‘harassed’ a girl without even knowing it, and I think I thought it wasn’t a big deal because she didn’t retaliate – she just walked on as if that was her third time getting hit on that day. Women should be able to stand up for themselves and say when something isn’t right. It’s all of that, people see shows on TV where women are just treated badly and all those online jokes like ‘get back in the kitchen’ are just so derogatory towards women so it desensitizes them to the idea of sexism being a big deal,” said Herrera.
What many don’t realize is that degradation and sexism is all around. The severe cases are the only ones recognized by society, however the minor incidents of harassment matter too because they are the catalyst to much more critical cases such as rape or domestic violence.
“I have witnessed sexual harassment before and I did stand up for the girl because she wasn’t doing anything so I took it upon myself to be the one to tell the guy to knock it off. This isn’t an issue throughout all of Johnson but there are, within certain groups, people who lack respect for themselves and others. We have to make people realize this isn’t okay and it hurts others and then maybe they’ll be more considerate,” added Herrera
And now there is even “slut shaming,” which is the idea that puts women at fault in cases such as harassment or rape, arguing that the action was due to their suggestive apparel or body language.
“Girls usually stay quiet about this stuff because they’re scared or embarrassed and probably say it’s because they’ll be punished more rather than the person that did the crime. They’ll be looked down upon. You see cases like this a lot where if a girl gets raped and reports it, the blame comes back on them. Like, ‘you shouldn’t have been drinking, you shouldn’t have worn that’ etc. And no one cares that this girl just experienced something traumatic. People teach girls that they shouldn’t dress that way if you don’t wanna get harassed. Well, how about we teach the men not to harass period. It’s our own body and we’ll do what we want,” said senior Addi Banazek.
And while true equality may not be possible in this world, however, women everywhere can try to prevent the mistreatment of other women – whether it’s in the media or down the hall.
“It’s so offensive that that lack of respect really is everywhere in the media because, as a woman, you never want to be treated that way and it shouldn’t be a norm. Because of that, it’s taken more lightly than it should be and its almost glorified in music videos and stuff. As women, we have a voice but we need to choose to use it in a way that people will not only hear but listen. That means letting the world know that this isn’t a stupid feminist thing but a human rights issue,” said Banazek.