The difficulties of being a woman, include the pervasiveness of your own personal space, it requires sharing your existence with the rest of the world. The female body has indirectly been stripped of autonomy and labelled as public property through hyper-sexualisation, however the impact of this has little power until the experience plays out in front of you. My own experience in which my space was invaded, in which my discomfort was unaccounted for, in which I as a thinking individual didn’t really matter, but the display of my body did… that is when I experience the power of patriarchy.
There was no ‘demeaning’ display of ‘too much’ skin (unless you have issues with turtle necks, in which case I apologise for allowing the top inch of my neck to peak out), no eye contact made… in fact, it was day-light when I was stalked, cornered and told explicitly the ways in which my body appealed to the male gaze, in highly sexual, highly vulgar, highly demeaning and pervasive terms. My discomfort although quite apparent through the look of disgust and confusion etched across my face was not enough to prevent this man from staring me down as placed himself in front of me. His need to place his own … over my comfort, is one of the many examples in which men are taught and conditioned to believe that their own desires weight greater than a woman’s sense of comfort.
This is just on experience of many, with the recent media attention upon the pro-rape, anti-feminism, pro-misogyny (…the list goes on) ‘activist’ Roosh V who put together an international rally/demonstration advocating the legalisation of rape within the private realm. Previous extremist movements regarding the position of women within our society, are largely a response to growing recognition of women’s rights movements and the increasing strength of both liberal and intersectional feminist action. My right to carry myself in whichever form I feel comfortable is deemed offensive to those who view women as children who must be told what they should (or better yet, shouldn’t) do with their bodies. In fact, it shouldn’t matter what I was wearing, it shouldn’t matter how I was walking, it shouldn’t matter… all that should matter is that my basic rights were revoked, and that there was lack of respect for my comfort, rather I was dehumanised and objectified with a single glance and the utterance of vulgar sentences. The sad truth is that the attempted liberation of women is receiving hostile backlash in the form of counter movements, of increased sexual assault and violence in the name of repressing such liberation.
So the next time, a woman steps back when you approach her… or seems hesitant in her interaction with you… when she discusses her liberation as a woman with both excitement and fear… remember that experience is life’s greatest lesson, and fear is taught.