Sexism: The Economic and Social Cost

Not all men sexually harass, or sexually abuse women, but all men benefit from it economically.

It’s how the patriarchy intended it.

If you are still shocked by the prevalence of sexual harassment. I take it you never speak to the women in your lives.

Whispers. Glances. Vague advice.

“Don’t be alone in a room with him.”
“Of he offers you a drink, decline it.”

Women have been advising other women about dangerous men for eons. In a world where victims of sexual assault are seldom believed, and are shunned into silence, sometimes the only justice they have is to save someone else from the same fate.

The guilt of knowing that your abuser went on to abuse someone else is part and parcel of victim blaming. Why must the onus befall victims to be brave and name their abusers, instead of it falling on men not to abuse in the first place.
The question of why there is such a lack of representation of women in leadership goals is not an accident or a fluke of the system – it’s the success of the patriarchal structures.

When a woman has to leave her job, leave her career, leave her city, because her supervisor abused her and HR wasn’t helpful, it jettisons her opportunities for advancement in that field.

How many CEOs do young graduates get warnings about not working for, because they are known predators? Men who are pioneers in their fields, who should be shaping young minds, but instead feel entitled to the bodies that host them.

How many young women have had excellent resumes. but failed to get the job after refusing to sleep with the Director of the organization? To whom do we then speak truth to power, if the powerful are our abusers?

It is easy for men who are “good guys,” yet still deny the existence of sexism to blame women for a pernicious work environment. It is easy for them to blame the lack of forward mobility on a lack of ambition in women’s part. What is not easy to understand is that we have been warned not to work for Mr X because he gets handy. or Mr Y demands sex during the interview, or Mr Z is constantly making sexual comments.

So before you spout “not all men abuse women,” remember all women know men who abuse us.

Can I have my identity back?

Doctor. Lawyer. Astronaut. Teacher. Accountant. These are the things children grow up dreaming of becoming. Dreams that are based on the assumption that they can choose for themselves who and what they want to be. Yet of those young girls, 1 in 3 will be defined by someone else’s actions; 1 in 3 will lose control of the narrative of their life; 1 in 3 will become a victim.

When someone steals your control, what else do you have left to yourself? Your identity is no longer yours. Your body was all you had, yet someone decided they had more of a say over it than you did. That they could overrule you, and they could change the entire trajectory of your life. From a path towards your goals, to one that will always have a chapter devoted to your assailant.

A thief came in and stole your joy, stole your light, stole your sense of self.

Shakespeare said what’s in a name. You never appreciate it until that name isn’t the only way you get to define yourself.

Can I have my identity back?