I’m Rising Because…
I was brought up by a father who taught me never to take shit from any man, not even from him. My mother, and all the women in my family, have been the greatest examples of strength and courage even just in their day to day lives. They never fail to amaze me. I’m rising because these women, and millions like them around the world, just get on with things. They work hard, they shoulder every heartache, every trouble but they don’t stop, life goes on, they must go on with it.
I was brought up believing that women have an equal right to life and happiness, and that if anything, they work harder, strive further, and deserve more than men. But I know that not every young girl is taught this growing up, not every young girl is lucky enough.
I’m rising because all across the world today, young girls will see their mothers, aunts, sisters, rise up and dance for One Billion Rising, and it might be the first time they’ve ever seen them dance, ever seen them rise up against the violence or suffering of women, ever seen them make a stand against anything.
I’m rising because, for the last few months I’ve been trying to write a piece about feminism and its continuing importance in the world today, but every day, the piece gets longer and longer, because every day a new story breaks. Whether it is the gang rape of a female student in India or the death of a woman in Ireland who was refused an abortion, or a Christmas advert from Virgin Mobile in America that normalises, even makes a mockery of sexual assault against women.
A disturbing culture has grown out of this kind of advertising, or perhaps the advert is a result of a wider normalisation of these attitudes. Young men, and women, make jokes about sexual assault, abuse, rape every day that suggest that this kind of violence against women is not only normal, but funny.
Recently I read a study which compared the comments of convicted rapists with those made in lads mags (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/the-womens-blog-with-jane-martinson/2011/dec/09/lad-mags-rapists-study). Half the people surveyed couldn’t tell the difference between the two, and can we pretend to be shocked? How often have we heard the ludicrous words “She was asking for it”?
I’ve confronted people who’ve made these kind of lads jokes in the past, and the most common response? “Lighten up”.
I don’t know any of those kind of jokes, but I have got a pretty good punchline…
One in three women will be raped and beaten in her lifetime.
I’m rising because no women anywhere, ever “asked for it”.
I’m rising because the only time a man ever tried to hit me I hit him back twice as hard. But I know that not every woman will be able to fight back, we all have to fight for her.