Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Silence Stops Now

A friend of mine posted a link to an article the other day that inspired this post.  Part of the inspiration was about things being said that really needed to be, but that no one wants to talk about or even acknowledge.  The other part of it was that I found the article so hostile and raw (which is absolutely appropriate for the site that it's posted on) that I wanted to address it in such a way as to reach those people who might turn away from something so strongly worded.  

When it comes to sexism and harassment there are so many lines that could be crossed.  And those lines do differ from person to person (we are certainly each allowed our own boundaries).  Some women feel that the majority of men they interact with are trying to get something out of them.  Some women think that any act of courtesy, like opening a door for a woman, is misogyny.  And then some women think that the rest of those women are crazy banshees who should stop complaining.  And, unfortunately, some women attack anyone who tries to point out that there is a great imbalance between the sexes.    

Allow me to take the middle ground here.  I do not feel it is necessary to reprimand every person who invades my personal space or attempts to demand my attention.  I prefer to be diplomatic when I can and get along with everyone as much as possible.  At the same time, I do have my boundaries and I am not afraid to enforce them.  I believe that both boys and girls should be raised to be assertive, to stand up for themselves as well as others, and to have respect for people who are not like them, whether that means of a different gender, a different race, a different religion - you get the idea.  

I do not want to lessen anything that Amanda Marcotte wrote in It's Really Time for the Harassment to End.  Although maybe I am compromising too much of myself, maybe I'm using diplomacy when I should be suckerpunching people (not that she's saying that).  I'm fairly certain that's how most of the men I know would respond to some of the things I've experienced.


When I was younger I didn't have the skills or the internal strength to fight back or walk away.  And whether they meant to or not, there were men who treated me in a way that made me fearful.  Now I am stronger and wiser, and possess at least some skills to deal with uncomfortable or unpleasant situations.  But I recognize that not every person feels strong enough to stand up for themselves and I do not think less of them for it.  Those of us who have strong voices would do well to use them when we see that others don't or can't.


I wrote recently about "trolling."  It remains a great fear in the back of my mind and when I see other bloggers dealing with it, I step in and help them wherever I can.  I hope that they will continue blogging, but I also understand why people get sick of it.  It is abuse, plain and simple.  It serves no constructive purpose and is harmful to everyone who comes into contact with it.  They benefit no one and they discourage those who haven't found their voice yet from ever finding it.  I suppose that's exactly what trolls are aiming for.  And I cannot begin to understand what makes a person want to be so toxic.


Aside from the day to day attempts we make to find balance in a world where too many people feel that their gender/sexual orientation/religion/etcetera should dominate and control, there are some very serious issues that get completely ignored.  I'd like to encourage everyone reading this post to check out the Facebook pages for Stop the Worldwide War on Girls and their new sister site, The Silence Stops Now.  Both pages provide information about abuse and violence that women suffer.  Neither are meant to tear down men.  They are about respect.  Equality.  Peace.  Understanding.  Making the world a better place for everyone.  These are the things we should be striving for.

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