We all know how it begins. A man pays a woman attention, the woman doesn’t return said attention, and so the man becomes ballistic and switches his kind words into slurs. It’s a tale as old as time, and it’s one that I’m sure any woman will be able to empathize with.
All women are able to refer to at least one instance in their lives in which they have felt threatened at the hands of a man. We can all pull out past memories of fear and humiliation, simply because we did not respond to a catcall, or in other instances did not give in to a man’s desires.
You see, men hold this innate belief that women must live for them; that women owe them something. Immediately upon encountering a woman who refuses to drop her integrity for them -as they expect them to- they feel threatened. After all, masculinity does tend to be very fragile.
Instances such as these are unfortunately very widespread. Instances of a man resorting to violence simply because he was unable to cope with rejection in a healthy manner are demonstrated on the news on a daily basis.
Wasn’t it just last week that a man by the name of Steve Stephens claimed to have taken multiple innocent lives in the name of his ex-girlfriend? Yes, yes it was. Sadly these issues are just becoming more and more prevalent by the day, with the media constantly feeding mens’ already inflamed egos.
Even sadder, society’s nature of victim-blaming is all the more prevalent. Upon news of her ex-boyfriend’s murder spree, Steve Stephen’s ex-girlfriend, Joy Lane, was made to apologize for Stephens’ actions, as though they were on her hands.
TW: There are also a multitude of cases in which women unfortunately find themselves raped at the hands of their partners. Men will resort to the narrow-minded reasoning of, “well, we’ve done it before, it must be okay now too”. So convinced that their actions are justified, they go on to disregard their partner’s protests and cries for help, and continue to take advantage of them instead. This mindset is so commonplace that spousal rape currently makes up about 9% of all rape cases.
Men, as evident by the case of Steve Stephens above, not only tend to resort to sexual violence, but physical violence as well. Just as there are so many cases of marital rape, and just rape as a whole, the statistics for domestic violence also tend to be through the roof. As a matter of fact, in a single year, 4,774,000 American women will experience such violence at the hands of their partner. Shockingly enough, just throughout the time of our wars with Afghanistan and Iraq, the amount of women murdered by current or ex male partners in the United States reached 11,766, which was about twice the amount of war casualties.
All the more terrifying, in instances where domestic violence is part of the relationship, the chances of spousal rape occurring increase by 70%. Yet, despite the prevalence and severity of the issue at hand, cases of marital rape are only considered illegal if the victim is under 15 years of age.
When taking into consideration all the aforementioned facts, along with those which have not been mentioned, one immediately comes upon the realization that we have a very real problem in our midst. Although some believe that this issue begins and ends at vocal harassment, there is so much more to it. It is so much more than just catcalling on the street, so no, I will not “get over it” and no, I will not learn how to “take a joke”. Instead, I will be fighting to put an end to such violence. Instead, I will spend my time fighting for a future where, I, as a woman, will no longer have to live my life terrified that I will become another statistic. I refuse to.