Growing up there was no such thing in my world as “Violence against women”.
There was a father who beat on his wife and children, and a women’s shelter that has since faded into a vague memory. There were incidents of violence from a father and step-father against children. There were bad boyfriends who were manipulative –but never physically abusive because childhood lessons stick well.
But there was no “violence against women.” It was just violence.
I was raised that men and women were equal. That your skin colour, religion, sexual orientation, were just what made you you, and that there was nothing that could make you “less” of a person. We were all people. Violence was a bad thing, but it was something wrought against men and women alike.
Into college, and university, I argued that feminism didn’t exist. That believing we were all equal wasn’t a political standpoint, because we were all equal, we had equal rights, we weren’t out protesting – demanding the vote and other equalities, so we weren’t feminists.
I graduated school, still wondering how people could stand behind such a belief. That we needed to fight for equality – we had it, didn’t they know? The horror stories of women being mistreated were in third world countries, and the ones that happened here, were because they were people in the wrong place at the wrong time – not because they were women.
And then I met rape culture
I met the online storm of arguments about women and how women were treated. I began to look closer, and saw news stories on women being sent to prison for 20 years for killing in self defence – while men who murdered in cold blood walked free. I felt the oppression in daily life. I began to see the world for what it was – unequal.
In a world where we are achieving marriage equality, and other rights for minorities, I see the rights of women and others who long ago won them, slowly fall the wayside. We don’t fight anymore because we believe we are safe.
The violence against women isn’t always obvious. It’s not always a black eye, or a broken wrist. It’s a false sense of security that leaves us with our guard down, and leaves us susceptibility to manipulation and inequality.
Violence is the feeling that we cannot walk down the street dressed in a certain manner without harassment. It is the embarrassment and humiliation we feel when we are not dressed a certain way, or don’t look “right.” Violence is the unending cycle of complacency that we teach our daughters when we tell them it’s okay, we’re all equal.
We are not equal. No two beings will ever be equal. No two beings are created equally. We all have our good attributes and bad. But at the end of the day we are all human. And we should be treated as such. When we recognize ourselves as human beings and when men recognize us in the same way, then and only then, can we begin to eradicate the violence against women.
We are not gentle lambs which need protection. Neither are we harpies which can fend for ourselves. We are a part of each other – a part of humanity and it is that humanity which we must call upon to bridge the gaps of inequality and to destroy violence against women. To destroy the violence against ourselves – the human race.
When she’s not working to pay the bills, Jane can be found working on programming, filling out paperwork or balancing the books for her two Girl Guide groups. Having recently relocated back to her small but cozy hometown, Jane enjoys a happy balance between an amazing job, a crazy family, and the long-sought love of her life – who she is still trying to convince to buy her a puppy.