By Jasmine Snow, Sacajawea Scroll
I don’t remember the first time I felt unsafe or threatened as a woman.
Let me rephrase that: I don’t remember the first time I have felt unsafe or threatened because I am a woman.
Granted, this could have something to do with the ingrained sense of danger women are endowed with from birth. When something is as prevalent and normalized as sexual harassment, it’s hard to keep track of the specifics.
More than likely, though, I was probably distracted by the newest episode of “Spongebob Squarepants.”
We’ve all heard the news stories: week after week, celebrity after celebrity, politician after politician. We’ve watched these seemingly untouchable, incorruptible men fall like sexually perverted dominos.
We’ve heard testimonies of women they’ve mistreated and abused, knowing we could easily become one of them. And now we’re here, on the other side or in the middle of some grandiose revolution of being more than just cogs working against the machine.
Which is great, right?
The problem is that even if Harvey Weinstein goes to jail or if Matt Lauer never shows his face on TV again, sexual harassment doesn’t go away.
Even worse? It doesn’t get any easier to talk about.
See, I’ve got the problem: I’m a grown up now. (Or, at least, I’m trying to be.) Unfortunately, being a woman in this world means that I have to understand and deal with subjects as nuanced as sexual harassment.
I have to deal with these things in my day-to-day life whether I like it or not. I have to deal with these things whether I’ve experienced it or not — whether it’s my story to tell or not.
Sexual harassment is hard to deal with, sure, but when left unchecked it can become disastrous. The diminishment of women to nothing more than sex organs and stories of misconduct is the most common by-product of sexual harassment.
However, when left unchecked, the most direct product can be sexual assault. This — despite any argument made by anyone deluded enough to make it — is not a good thing.
Training and self-defense demonstrations (like the one we all watched Tuesday) can be useful in combating this problem in isolated events. However, it does not deal with or fix the toxic culture of normalizing sexual misconduct.
If anything, it lends itself to the narrative of laying too much responsibility in the hands of potential victims. It says, “I know that there is a problem, but here, you fix it.” It tells me to take things into my own hands, because the best someone else can do is teach me how to do that, anyway.
As women, we are a conglomeration of power. As women, we are a symposium of the future, and no administration, regime or aggressor can take that away. As we empower ourselves this week, we will gather the tools necessary to safeguard the future.