With the verdict of the Snelgrove case on our heels, I want to scream as loud as I can that the jury must have been a plethora of idiots.
Of course, as a woman I want to stomp up and down and say the justice system isn’t fair and we need to reevaluate the law but I have yelled that statement a few too many times in my life, without any avail.
I have come to terms with a lot of the injustices in the world, because I have to get up every morning and survive.
I have had to change perspective on a lot of actions in order to live as a woman. It’s something we do, we brush off cat calls, we roll eyes to sexist jokes, we avoid dangerous situations in order to self protect.
We also learn of stories where brave women step forward to say something has happened to them and it’s completely wrong and they are eventually shut down.
After so many trials without a favourable outcome, I have become unsurprised and numb to the injustice. Not because I don’t want to keep up the good fight- I support all victims of abuse who come forward and I hope the justice they deserve is served. However, I know it is very unlikely it will be.
To the victim of this most recent case and to all of those who have ever fought back after abuse, I have to thank you because though these cases never seem to serve justice, your voice is the stepping stones to something bigger. When the rest of us have rested on our laurels and accepted the world as it is, you have stood up and reminded us that we have to keep fighting.
In either small or large incidents, every single woman has experienced sexual abuse on some level. Being followed around a book store for too long, being asked inappropriate questions, having older men say hello in the grocery store as a teenager and wondering why- unfortunately, this is the life we all lead.
There are many moments in our lives where we think to ourselves about whether or not we had fully consented. The majority of women can likely say they have a moment in time which they are unsure of or they are not comfortable thinking about- so why didn’t they say anything? Because we are dramatic, we are wrong, we want attention, we are sluts, we have an alternative motive.
What’s the point in reporting a crime when you’re just going to feel worse about it afterwards? What’s the point of calling out abuse when in the end, we will feel responsible?
It’s not because we are unsure of what is or is not consent.
Our understanding of consent is clear cut- our fathers have sat us down and told us what some men want and why we have to stand up for ourselves. My father told me to never be alone with a man of authority, to always carry a knife, to avoid situations I may not be strong enough to get out of on my own. My mother told me to never drink alone in public, to have a trusty guy friend play the fake boyfriend when approached, to say no to uncomfortable situations and reminded me that I do not owe anyone any piece of me or any explanation.
Of course, some of these parenting tips put the responsibility on me, but they are survival techniques. Parents understand that the world has barely progressed when it comes to consent, and therefore, they had to pass on the proper tools to their child, in order for them to make it through life alive.
As a woman I have taken a defense course, I carry a knife and I have never drank alone in public. I have regroomed my once kind face to a resting bitch face.
By the time we reach the age of 30, the majority of women are like modern day Tess of D’Ubervilles, faces marked up and retreated to avoid confrontation.
This is why I thank the women who come forward. It takes guts to stand up to something that is unlikely going to have a justifiable outcome. Especially when our whole lives we have been groomed to deal with the shitty deck of cards that is a misogynistic society. It’s easy to live a life that won’t fight back, it’s extremely difficult to fight knowing the outcome might not play in your favour.
We have lived in the shadows of victim blaming, and slowly built up a tolerance to the very small indecencies that we face every day: the fast paced run to the car, the baggy clothing to avoid creepily long looks, the inappropriate inbox messages – all these little moments are literally a part of our everyday lives. So when the big ones drop down, the heavy hammers: the waking up in the middle of sex that was never consented, the ass slap from the male boss, the angry husband, the violent man who was denied a date- those scary, abusive, soul crushing moments- leaves us unsure of how to survive any longer.
Those incidents are next level shit and you’re unsure of how to get past them. They haunt you, they redefine you, they create an insecurity you were never aware existed. It’s the most vulnerable moment and it’s hard to find that strength to stand up and say “If I feel this awful and violated, there has to be some serious bs up in this societal layout we have going on.”
Then you look around and realize, that even though standing up and letting the world know that you experienced a terrible infringement and that you were taken advantage of in a what would seem to be an unlawful matter, it’s unlikely there will be any punishment or justice to give closure on this horrible incident.
In fact, if you voice any concern to the violation you experienced at the hands of others, it’s likely you will be blamed. It’s likely you will be questioned and it’s likely that people will think you have some sort of insane personal gain for lying about this.
So we don’t fight back but rather work inwardly to learn new survival techniques.
I know, on paper that seems crazy. We actually live in a society where people think we are more likely to lie about being raped (for whatever the hell reason?) than we are to actually be raped. WHAT has anyone ever gained from this crying wolf about rape?
So that is why I thank the victims for recognizing the short comings of this society and stepping forward and trying to fight when they feel like have nothing in them. For standing up for all women and all victims of abuse and demanding that this stops, especially during the most vulnerable and frightening time in their lives.
Though right now, it may feel like the fight is never won, but your words are one small brick in a giant wall that has not been built. That strength and voice has laid the foundation and recognition that the world is not right, and it has to change.
You nudge the rest of us who have become complacent in the world. A world that allows us to face an unwanted and unacceptable amount of abuse in our every days. Those little quips of misogyny that run freely due to silence, leads to a bigger hammers that are extremely unacceptable and worthy of exposure.
Again, thank you for standing up for yourselves especially when you’re up against everything and everyone. Though you lead the way towards a road less travelled, it will eventually become more populated just by your expression of strength.
You’re bringing light to a situation that has to be discussed, you’re teaching young women about their worth and where to find courage and what consent means, and mainly you’re breaking down a whole societal construction that we have all been a part of and allowed complacency in order to survive.
The current case has led to protest and upsets, and previously non guilty verdicts had been met with a hands in the air approach of “well what can you do? It is what it is.”
However, in the Snelgrove case, people are no longer standing by. This was a clear cut case, in which a person in a position of authority, took advantage of their power and broke the law.
Change is brewing ever so slowly and it’s because of you for standing up.
I believe you and I thank you.