Things Guys Should Know About All The Feminist Hashtags


In light of the Jian Ghomeshi fiasco, trends such as #IBelieveLucy and #BeenRapedNeverReported are showing up, in support and solidarity of women. These hashtags are wonderful for raising awareness and allowing women the space to disclose, as did #WhyILeft and #WhyIStayed before them (pertaining to abusive relationships and domestic violence). These trends are helpful, and are great ways to expose issues with patriarchy head-on. All the same, I have tried to put myself in a dude’s shoes, and picture what it’s like to scroll through my newsfeed, seeing that Ghomeshi now has 9 women coming forward with information. I’ve tried to feel the cringe as I see the #BeenRapedNeverReported trend happening, and have some things I’d like to tell you, guys:

  1. Ghomeshi is not you. Thank god, who would want to be that guy right now? Ghomeshi is a public figure, a person who is being accused of sexual assault, whom everyone gets to watch, as more news unfolds. With more info and women coming forward, people are increasingly questioning his motives and credibility (as they should), and if you side with him, you are indirectly supporting his actions. You indirectly think (or at least, appear to think) that his actions are acceptable. Many people have “liked” his status who don’t condone violence, but still found him relatable enough to agree with. To me this means these indirect supporters either think these women are lying, or they found something in his post that resonated with them.If you found Ghomeshi’s post relatable, well, maybe it’s because you like kink. Maybe you’ve had a “jilted ex” who slit your tires once. Maybe you feel bad because the guy just lost his dad, and you know how hard it is to lose someone. Either way, you are not him. It is my sincere hope that you are not being accused of assault, that you do not choke women without their consent. This is where you and Ghomeshi likely differ.
  2. Believing these women does not make you against Ghomeshi, it means you believe these women. We do not need to have “People who like Q, and hence Jian, forever and ever, xo” in one corner and “Feminists and supporters of these women, who think they’re telling the truth,” in another. A third, more inclusive option exists, which involves remembering that Jian, the self-deprecating, charming radio host and C-List celeb is separate from Jian, real person, who is accused of punching women without letting his teddy bear watch. They are separate entities, and need to be recognized as such. So, you can like what you heard from Ghomeshi, radio personality host, and still believe these women.
  3. Women very rarely lie about these matters It’s a curious thing, that we have decided as a culture that women so regularity lie about being assaulted and the like. Why is this at the forefront of our minds, and why is it Ghomeshi’s immediate defense, when the false reporting rate is only anywhere between 2-8% (depending on region)? Guys, it’s so fucking tough to report these things. If you do decide to report,It means writing out what happened, then being questioned, then followed up with, then often told “Sorry, it’s he-said-she-said, because [you didn’t do a rape kit within 72 hours], or [you didn’t report right away] or [you don’t have physical evidence] or [you don’t speak the language well] or [he’s saying you made it up (Of course he is!)], so we can’t do much more about it. Try getting counseling.” I’m serious, this still happens, and not being believed is horrible. In most cases, ain’t nobody want to go through that unless they have to (read: their lives, or the lives of their children, are endangered).

Other barriers to reporting include: fear of job loss, security, permanent victim status, reliving, shame, self-blame, embarrassment, having to face the abuser, etc etc.

To put it in perspective:Only 6 out of 100 women that are assaulted, report it. See reasons above.

Due to the ginormous hassle that is reporting assault or abuse, people very rarely lie about it. It’s way too much work, and liars are usually pretty lazy.

Cat calls suck, think about it. The issue with cat calls (#StreetHarassment) are not about girl’s inability to accept a compliment, or about girls that don’t know how to be grateful. It’s about the fact that guys very often feel like they can just comment on how we look, and that it’s really creepy, most of the time.

Yesterday I was waiting for a friend at the mall when a guy walked up behind me and whispered, “You know you’re fucking gorgeous, right?” I felt my body freeze, as I thought about how he had to deliberately bend over to speak in my ear, and that I hadn’t even seen him. I stared at him without responding. He smiled slowly and said, “Can’t you hear?” I said nothing and left.

Fuck, why? I don’t know you, you don’t know me. I haven’t been eyeing you from across the room. I haven’t bought you a coffee. I’ve never seen you in my life. What makes you think you can whisper in my ear and ask me if I can hear? Go away.

Cat-calling or similar methods are a creepy form of entitlement, even if what you’re saying is “nice” in other contexts. It’s unexpected and daunting. Until it happens 300 more times, then it’s just tiring.

  1. These are problems with patriarchy, not you. Ghomeshi and related issues, are problems that arise when individuals take power and patriarchy too far. It’s a pretty pervasive problem, that manifests in different ways across the world, and hence deserves adequate attention. Issues involving patriarchy, such as the ones discussed above and millions of others, do not exist to make men feel guilty, or hated, or threatened. They do not assign blame to all men, but rather recognize a common societal issue. While patriarchy exists on a very personal level very often, issues upheld with the patriarchal system should not be mistaken for misandry. It is not meant to fill you with personal dread, it is meant to see a bigger problem, and give women a space to talk about it.

Next time you feel overwhelmed by the amount of women-related issues on your feed, I encourage you to avoid the urge to defend yourself. This isn’t about you personally. And instead of siding with Ghomeshi or thinking that women lie about assault, consider that it’s patriarchy that is telling you that. You have nothing to lose by believing these women, because you are not the one who assaulted her, and everyone benefits from your support.

Why Some Women Hold Back on Sharing Their #WhyIStayed Stories

There are all these moving stories about escaping abusive relationships floating around the internet. They are all unique, and poignant, and hopefully bring better understanding to what abusive relationships are actually like.

But for every woman telling her story of abuse, there are probably two others holding back on sharing theirs. Statistically, 1 in 3 women will experience some form of abuse in their life—be it physical, emotional or sexual—which often go hand-in-hand. This means that a big chunk of the population has a story about the time they had their dignity, their sanity, and their safety stripped away from them, and yet they keep their struggles quiet.

Today, I don’t really want to talk about why women avoid their stories of abuse (even after they’re free), but I will, because awareness.So here are some reasons not to talk about abuse, even after it’s over:

Reliving is terrible. Let’s get the obvious out of the way. A major deterrent in women avoiding the #WhyIStayed stories is because it involves thinking about one of the most scary, gut-wrenching, confusing, angering, taxing times of their lives. Even if it happened to you—especially if it happened to you—it’s a really big pill to swallow, and nearly fucking impossible to think about. True story: I still can’t think about it in its proper context. When I try, I think about tons of reasons why it wasn’t actually that bad, just so I can remember what happened fully. I often wonder if I was just young and the relationship was tumultuous. If I had been more emotionally mature, smarter, prettier, ablebodied, it wouldn’t have happened. Deep down, I know it wouldn’t have mattered if I was as enlightened as a Zen Master, or as pretty as Megan Fox, all the horrible shit would’ve happened anyway, short from walking away sooner or never meeting him. (Imagine?!).

There’s also the beautiful phenomenon of blocking, which a lot of people employ after shitty things happen to them. It does wonders for daily function, and can even delete things from your personal history if enough time passes. Great for some aspects of coping, not-so-great for sharing your story of mistreatment.

Victim Status. Once you disclose that this stuff has happened to you, a veil of sadness drapes itself all over your otherwise happy relationships. You watch as the person’s eyes digest your past, as they sit up straighter, tightening their jaw and say, “You don’t have to tell me this if you’re uncomfortable,” What they (maybe unknowingly) mean to say (probably?) is that you’re making them uncomfortable with the weight of your secrets.

Victim status, whether you want it or not, pushes a lot of people away. You’re one of those girls, who’s likely have a ton of baggage, and for whom there must be a reason all that bad stuff has happened.

Disbelief. Every time I read about one of the women who has come forward with her story, I catch myself looking for all the things she could’ve done differently: “Oh, she could’ve left, here, here, or here and she wouldn’t be in this sticky sitch.” I hear her talk about the early signs of being in a controlling relationship, and I think, “Didn’t she find it strange?” As if I’ve never been there. As if I don’t get it. I wonder, just like many people, how she let this happen? And, surely, she could’ve nipped it in the bud. What scares me about this is that I fucking know what it’s like, and I’m still inclined to question, be skeptical of woman sharing their souls. If someone who knows, way down, how this stuff happens, doubts the woman for her role in the events, what does that mean for how the rest of the world sees them?

Can’t leave it at the door. Being severely mistreated for years is not something anyone just up-and-leaves, physically or emotionally. Telling your story about it solidifies that. If you ever find voice to talk about it, either generally or specifically, it becomes more and more real (and less and less deniable) with every detail.   And you’ll have to take that with you, into your next relationships. It’s likely that your whole worldview morphed to match your abusive situation, and that never (I presume) goes away. You’’ll spend a long time (maybe forever?) waiting for the “other shoe to drop” in your new and old friendships and relationships, the way it did in your abusive one. This stuff, it doesn’t leave you. And knowing that can throw you back into denial harder than whiplash on Space Mountain.

Safety is another huge reason I’d imagine some women aren’t sharing. Sometimes even whispering the words “He’s hitting me,” can mean tons of danger. I didn’t address it here because the focus is mostly on emotional bounds that keep woman from disclosing, even after the abuse has dissipated.

So, next time you read a #WhyIStayed story, try to believe it with your whole heart, and if you want to put things into perspective, think of all the women who aren’t sharing. Commend all the women who are sharing—they are fucking heroes, but be mindful of those who aren’t there yet–they’re on their own journey.