A Woman’s Femininity or Lack Thereof Should Not Define How Society Treats Her

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For decades men have treated women like their inferior, with a lack of basic human respect in many cases. But in recent years largely due to social media, more attacks on women at the hands of men have come to light. This new age of women supporting women has uncovered horrifying statistics, such as, in 2020 only 1.4% of all rape cases resulted in the attacker being charged, or that 52% of police officers found guilty of sexual assault had the privilege of keeping their job. The danger posed by police officers, the very people who have a duty to serve and protect, has been largely exposed in the last few months. Women are in constant danger of abuse, regardless of where, when or by whom for that matter.

On Wednesday the 10th of October, I was returning home after recording some content at a show in West London, when I was verbally and near enough physically abused by a man who had never before laid eyes on me. Just after midnight, I was on the underground when two very visibly intoxicated middle-aged men sat down in the seats next to me. Immediately I felt that gut feeling that all women feel whenever strange men come near us, but I was two stops away from getting off so I did not move. Plus I will not live in fear of men to the extent that I allow them to dictate my everyday life. After about 5 minutes one of the men sitting closest to me looked in my direction, while I was on the phone and loudly said that women who talk like me deserve to be raped. My demeanour automatically changed.

I turned to the man and said, ‘excuse me?’, and pulled out my phone to record what he had said. As soon as he saw my phone he became more aggressive, spitting at me, trying to snatch my phone, kicking. Luckily he missed every time, this went on until a woman came over and told me to calm down? Now what had upset me the most about this entire situation was not the man’s actions because as a woman in this day and age my expectations for men are already relatively low, but it was the lack of reaction from the 20 odd passengers on the train. Not a single person attempted to stop the man or deescalate the situation, they tried to calm me down as if to say I was the problem?

Following the incident, I took to social media. As a woman in the 21st century, I know better than to turn to the police for help in cases of violence against women and sexual assault, unless I wish to be subject to uncomfortable interrogation and a line of questioning designed to shift the blame on me. Thus I decided to share the video of the incident on Twitter and Instagram in hopes of identifying the man and locating his place of work. A strategy used by women to help them take justice into their own hands.

Although the overall reaction to the video was positive, consisting mainly of messages of support and solidarity, some comments were worrying, to say the least. Due to my demeanour, which is less ‘feminine’ than your stereotypical woman, many men fuelled by toxic masculinity began to justify the attack. Just because my tone of voice is deeper and my choice of words is ‘not lady like’ I deserve to be assaulted while passive bystanders watched.

This was a shared outlook amongst both men and women, the idea that if I act like a man I deserve to be treated like one, with many justifying the attack as an act of equal rights. Equal rights mean equal fights, right? The problem is, this was not a fight, I was attacked. Regardless of if I was a masculine woman, a feminine man, a man or a woman, this was an attack and there was no justification for it. Therefore this attempt by people to shift the blame away from the man in the video, even though there is direct proof, reinforces the fact that as a society many of us still fail to accept that men hold a deeply rooted resentment for women.

It’s as if society expects a woman to conform to a role of a damsel in distress for people to even considering helping them, or for a man to consider tolerating her existence. In other words, a woman should diminish her independence and strength to make men feel better about themselves. Hence why women like myself, who do not act like pick-me women put on this earth just to stroke men’s egos, are victimised at every angle. Because these women represent a power that undermines toxic masculinity and puts their patriarchy under threat.

Powerful women should not be subject to violence, ridicule and criticism just because men are insecure. Instead, powerful women should have their voices amplified in spaces where they can make a difference, in positions of power where they will be able to help create a safer world for all, a world where women don’t live in mounting fear.

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