“Man Up Against Violence” Conference Response; Connections to Female Shaming in Our Society

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After attending events at the “Man Up Against Domestic Violence” conference, I stumbled across the picture above on my Facebook Newsfeed. This photo really got me to think, and it upset me for a few different reasons.

Since hearing Jackson Katz speak so passionately about this issue, I am really intrigued in what he was talking about. For instance, when he spoke about people talking about using passive voices when it comes to domestic violence, such as “57 women raped” as opposed to “Men raped 57 women” really stood out to me. I had never thought about that before, but now that I have it really bothers me because it shouldn’t be only the woman’s issue, the men need to be involved in it as well! At first I was somewhat leery of the name, because in itself is somewhat sexist. There is without a doubt abuse that happens to others, not only specifically women, and “manning” up is insinuating that there males are in power and it is the masculine thing to be a man. However, what Jackson Katz made me realize is that there is no shortage of females involved with this, but that men are the missing link is raising awareness about this issue; hence the name.

In regards to the picture above,  I think this is one of the reasons that women are more often victims than men. This picture basically says, “Hey, if a girl has nice under garments, she obviously wants to have sex – even if she doesn’t.” To me, this is shocking. Having pride in what you wear and how you dress does not make it okay for men to objectify you. I don’t dress to impress males, or to give them a “vibe” or an “okay” to look and do as they please. This is an example of how our society makes females feel bad for abuse against them. This picture is insinuating that if a female was to wear a ratty old bra and old underwear, then her chances of being abused are lowered. Females shouldn’t be worried about “turning” guys on with what they wear. Especially what they wear under their clothes. To me, this picture portrays to both sexes that if a female is wearing nice underwear then they are “asking for it”.

It is completely outrageous for our society to think that a pair of underwear decides whether or not sex will happen. People decide when sex can happen. People = plural. Not just one person, both people are involved in making the decision. With so much happening in our society surrounding this issue, there of course, is the Jian Ghomeshi news story blowing up at the moment. This is an example of why females feel bad about abuse that happens against them because they feel as if it is their fault in some way. A blog post by Reva Seth, a victim of Ghomeshi discusses why she felt as if she couldn’t come forward about her abuse, she said that she felt she couldn’t say anything because they were friends and they had kissed and fooled around before, and when it went further than she had wanted she didn’t think it abuse because she had allowed it to happen before. This can be related to the photo above. As a female, I can relate to how it may be portrayed as my fault because I “dressed” a certain way, so in turn, “I asked for it” somehow.

In my opinion, anyone of any age, gender, sex and occupation can say no whenever they want to whomever they want. People shouldn’t feel bad about saying no. Anyone who has been abused shouldn’t be afraid to speak out because they are victims, and shouldn’t be shamed by our society for not doing anything wrong. In the wise words of Yehuda Bauer found on the Man Up Against Violence website, “Thou shalt not be a victim, thou shalt not be a perpetrator, but, above all, thou shalt not be a bystander.” It is time to stand up and raise awareness.

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