I’ve just opened the paper and there are two articles on one page relating to sexual harassment. The first has the headline, ‘I struck a deal to escape Weinstein, says star’ and the other is headlined, ‘Minister is named on secret chat group about sex pest MP’s’.
It strikes me that the main theme that these articles share is not just harassment…it’s fear.
Fear is allowing sexual harassment to perpetuate. I mean, how crazy is it that there needs to be a WhatsApp group for women working in Westminster, on which they share information on MP’s with a reputation for sexually inappropriate behaviour? Seriously. Why the hell do us women feel the need to keep it amongst ourselves? Why aren’t we shouting this stuff out, rather than keeping it in the confines of WhatsApp?
Why are we muttering quietly to each other about intolerable and unacceptable behaviour, which is allowing that behaviour to carry on?
Why did every woman who put #metoo on her social media feed, not feel able to expand? Why did many women who thought it, not put it?
Fear. Fear and shame.
Women aren’t supposed to have a voice. We’re supposed to be nice and kind. When we get angry, people get very nervous. It just doesn’t sit right. We’re supposed to be the epitome of calm and control and really shouldn’t lose our shit. Society brings us up knowing this as it’s seemingly better that way.
There are so many reasons for our fear: fear of losing or not getting a job, fear of being disbelieved, fear of being ignored…perfectly legitimate reasons for fear. Then the shame – shame that we didn’t leave/shout/retaliate/say ‘no’ more forcefully.
Fear and shame are the two reasons why men are ultimately in control. We don’t like to admit it, but it’s the truth.
This is why we must bring our daughters up to have a voice.
This is why they must not feel shame.
This is why they must face their fear.
Because we are failing to.
Where are their role models? Whispering and silent. That’s where we are. Hiding the truth to keep the peace…like good girls.