sorry I haven't been around much. I had to buy a new phone and it had a knock on effect with any plans in my calendar/shoots/blog posts that I was scheduling. Please forgive me!
So, I saw something amazing on Twitter yesterday that I am sure all of you saw too.. the trending of the hashtag #WhenIWas.
It began with a series of tweets from Everyday Sexism, who highlight experiences of harassment, assault, discrimination amd prejudice of women. This hashtag quickly went viral, and is still going strong as I type these words.
What is so sad about this hashtag is that it brings to light the amount of women and girls experiencing sexism on a daily basis. The fact that there was already 30,000 tweets by the early afternoon of yesterday just demonstrates how significant this problem is. It is heartbreaking reading through some of the tweets; it shows that sexism has no boundaries when it comes to age, race or religion.
These brave women are standing together in solidarity to show support, understanding and to expose the true horror of being a woman. Of course, men have participated too, but some of the tweets have displayed the sheer sexism that women endure on a daily basis, and from a young age.
Here are some particular Tweets I found particularly eye opening:
#WhenIWas 17 I was told in court that theres no way I was raped as I wasn't deemed attractive by my rapist.
#WhenIWas 16 on a school trup I was drugged by a man at a hostel. He attempted to rape me. Police said I was old enough to know better.
#WhenIWas 13 we were told we had to wear vests under school shirts 'no matter how hot it was' bc out bras were distracting to male teachers
#WhenIWas 7, I was sexually assaulted by an older boy and my school tried to suspend me for taking it to court
#WhenIWas 10 I was sent to the office for wearing short that were 'distracting to boys'. TEN.
#WhenIWas 17 I was raped by my first boyfriend. My school found out and tried to expel me.
#WhenIWas 13 my male math teacher told me I didn't need to learn geometry because I already had such good curves.
#WhenIWas 14 a teaching priest told us in class that rape is impossible as 'a letter can't be posted if the letterbox isn't open'.
#WhenIWas 9 a male gym teacher said the girls had to play touch rugby instead of traditional so we 'wouldnt squish our pretty noses'.
#WhenIWas 18 I had my breasts groped at work but my (male) boss said he wouldn't reprimand or ask the guy to leave as he was his friend.
#WhenIWas 7 an older boy choked me in full view of teaching staff, because I'd refused to let him kiss me. No one did a fucking thing.
#WhenIWas 14 and got assaulted, the police didn't care and insinuated that it happened because I was a slut, something my assaulter told them.
I am sure with these twelve tweets you can see where I am headed. It is estimated that 12000 men and 85,000 women in the UK and Ireland are raped yearly, yet only 1070 convictions are made. These numbers are shocking, but they are pretty understandable once it is recognised that the those who are there to protect us systematically let us down..
I highlighted these 12 tweets purposefully. It needs to be recognised that sexism towards women will not change until the habits of those who can make the change are broken. No school should ignore these issues or make a girl feel objectified or dirty. No work place should allow assault on any level. No law enforcer should use a girl's gender against her, especially when it is their duty to protect.
We shouldn't need charities against harassment and assault. We shouldn't need to march in protest or campaign for our rights (Lads, I'm talking to you too).. It is disgusting that in this day and age, it is so acceptable to treat another human being like a piece of meat.
What are your opinions? I may be completely wrong. It is unfair to only accept my own opinion, but I honestly do believe people deserve more respect and love. Do you think girls should have dresscodes at school? Do you think rape is black and white? Or do you see a grey area? What is your opinion on the trending hashtag #WhenIWas ?
I hope as human beings we learn to grow together, support one another and unite to fight against those who bring negativity to the world. You may call me naive but there is always time for change. I hope that someone reads this and maybe helps the cause in some little way today, even if it's just acknowledging that we need to make a change.
I know I try every day. I get judged a lot for raising my voice and not accepting to be degraded. I stop and ask people in the streets if they're okay if it seems like they have been experiencing trouble. I report it whenever possible, even though I know most of the time I am not heard.
Teamwork guys, we can make a change for sure.
and ps, the last tweet was from me.