As a woman, I have often pondered over the dilemma of gender imbalance. Are women really subject to a patriarchy that has existed for thousands of years? Is feminism a need of the hour or is it masked as something else? Having been the victim of sexism, I can easily say that the patriarchy does exist, and it has a grip on all members of society, not just women.
Let us take a look at the recent Durham scandal. Lads making ‘jokes’ about, “getting with the poorest girl,” and, “shagging a new girl every night for a bed” may seem amusing to some, but to others, this is a horrific display of a real and terrifying misogyny. What’s more, that’s not the worst of it. Likelihood is the screenshots on display do not even scratch the surface. We are looking at a boy brave enough to take this information elsewhere while there are so many screenshots waiting to be taken, but people are too scared to be labelled a snitch: a tell-tale, too sensitive, or weak.
I have seen it happen. I have witnessed discussions about, “cheap date rape drugs.” I have witnessed guys saying (and I quote), ‘It would be so easy to get with her tonight. She wouldn’t even remember it in the morning.’ It’s rape culture like this that has ingrained itself in women to protect themselves. They cover their drinks and never leave them unattended; are told not to get too drunk, and not look at him the wrong way, or walk home alone. And to never walk alone in the dark and if forced to, then to carry an alarm or rape spray or keys between their fingers.
As a woman growing up in a changing society, I will not say that I am in the same position as my ancestors 50 years ago, but it does not mean that all is well. Every time a man is walking behind, I cross the road or take a long route to check whether he is following me. In 2020 I still fear for my safety in empty buses, trains, or even crowded parties. What’s more, I’m not alone. A quick survey on my Instagram, left for just 40 minutes, shows that 92% of women have been catcalled, 60% have been sexually harassed and 32% own a pepper spray/ rape alarm. Additionally, 68% of men have been told to man up and 81% believe that the patriarchy exists and is an active problem for all. Of course, this was a small sample from my Instagram followers, however, the fact that teenagers ranging from 15-19 give these results, is shocking and a clear problem. This is the patriarchy.
Currently, I am fighting a case that I am not allowed to speak about in-depth, but I want anyone reading this to know; you are not alone. Society makes US believe our stories are insignificant, it’s OUR fault, WE should have been more careful. “What were you wearing?” “Why did you drink so much?” “Maybe you lead him on?” I can’t count the number of times I’ve been told I’m lying, the amount of ‘friends’ and trust I’ve lost, and been told that I don’t look like a ‘victim’. I am not scared to be at Durham University. I am not scared to have my voice heard. But so many people are, and I can understand why, which is why we have to stand in solidarity.