A Response To: "Why Men Don't Respect Us, Ladies"

Trigger warning: there are mentions of sexual abuse and victim blaming in the post.

As I was browsing through this website,  I came across a rather unsettling post written by a young woman at UNT titled:Why Men Don’t Respect Us, Ladies.  After reading it, I shared the article with a few of my friends (Marilyn, Tana, Alanah, Samantha) and asked for their perspective on it. The responses all seemed to be the same, regardless of each woman's political/religious affiliations, and moral/ethical standards. 

I want to share our responses with you. My goal is not to bash the author, instead I want to use this space as a platform for free thought and discussion. 

The issue we had with the article is that it takes on a traditional, yet outdated look at what a woman should be, without considering how other women could be affected by the author’s presumably sexist opinions. Yes, the author is a woman. Yes, women can be sexist towards their own gender.  When a woman internalizes ideals or “truths” passed down from their family or society and forcibly projects them onto other women while being prejudiced as to the way they dress or the jobs they hold- that’s sexism. The article unapologetically promotes gender roles & expectations while blaming women for how they’re treated by men.

The author claims that we have lost complete respect for ourselves and insinuates that women who wear little clothing don’t value themselves, therefore allowing men not to value them either. However, respect should be contributed to a woman’s endeavors and accomplishments- NOT their choice of dress. If I choose to wear cut off shorts because I feel confident in them and love the way my ass looks, that doesn’t mean I am undeserving of respect.

 

Marilyn, a friend who studies biology and is actively involved in the fight for social justice,  felt that the article was looking at the issue from a “conservative male’s point of view”  and exclaimed that her decision to wear revealing clothing wasn’t a reflection of insecurity but of empowerment and self-confidence.

“You think he is not going to take advantage of you when you’re basically opening the door wide open?” - V. Ochoa (author)

The question the author poses is both insensitive and ludicrous- this question, which followed her statement regarding cutoff shorts, implies victim blaming. A man can take advantage of a woman regardless of what she chooses to wear. Are you going to tell an 8 year old girl wearing sweatpants and a secondhand boys’ t shirt that she was “basically opening the door wide open” to molestation? Sexual assault is about power and control, not about what a woman is wearing. 

Tana, who identifies as Agnostic and politically independent also agreed with my stance on victim blaming: “I have personal reasons that would refute the premise of this article- The thing is, is that I was molested at the age of eight. Fucking Eight. No matter what, us women have to deal with this; girls who haven’t even hit puberty have to deal with this. Women who are oppressed in the Middle East deal with it. I bet if we surveyed women and asked them if they have ever been sexuallly molested or harassed by men, the numbers would be painstakingly high.- Tana M.

 

Alanah M. a Baptist, raised conservative but politically unaffiliated, chimed in saying, “I can see where she (the author) is coming from, but she’s not looking at it from all angles. Not only that, she says women need to improve their behavior, but offers no examples. Now I know I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve never been molested, but I have been harassed. The best examples are when I was at work- because we all know how sexy a fast food uniform is. I would walk to work and men would cat call me. And up until recently, I wore nothing but baggy, unflattering clothes because I could just hear my mother telling me not to wear anything revealing because if you do, “you're inviting a man to take advantage of you. But really, it doesn’t matter what you wear. When a woman wears clothes that shows off her body, it isn’t that she's insecure-  like my mother and her mother taught me to believe, it shows she has confidence in herself. We need to teach men that it’s their behavior that is not okay. Catcalling is not okay- simply undressing a woman with their eyes is not okay.” - Alanah M.

“We have given men a distorted message and image of what a woman truly is. Ladies, we are not valuing what makes us women.”  As Marilyn G. states, the word itself is abstract- and most importantly, what makes us ‘women’ will differ in opinion from one person to another.

Women shouldn’t have to ‘behave like a princess’ in order to get treated like one. Women are Queens. We do not seek approval from men. A good, honest human being will treat their partner with the same level of respect as they treat anyone else- it’s common decency.

We are not defined by the clothes we wear or the music we listen to. We are not 'deserving' of respect because “deserving” implies a need to work for it- we demand  it. Essentially, saying that women need to behave and dress a certain way in order to be respected by the opposite sex is a farce. I refuse to mold myself into the image of man - I’m confident, proud, and badass.