We watched this Netflix documentary on how this lady uses pole dancing classes as therapy for women who feel insecure or not accepting themselves and/or their bodies. During this documentary, you are introduced to several of the ladies that participate in this specific class or who has joined pole as a sport or hobby to get fit/as an escape. The worst of this is that most of these women were sexually assaulted at some point in their life, or has some form of abuse from their partners. The upsetting thing for me in all this is the realisation – more than ever before – how women use their bodies as a method of control (eating disorders or excessive exercising) or as a form of punishment or even to “hide” who they really are.
It is said that 1 in every 3 women globally is sexually assaulted at least once in their lifetime. It was also stated by the UN that every 4 seconds a rape occurs in South Africa (However this is disputed by africacheck.org as old and an estimate and not based on reported assaults. It is however also claimed that only 16% of cases are reported to the police. That would mean that 3 out of 4 rape cases are not reported (rainn.org/statistics/criminal-justice-system).
More so, there is an uprising of women who have had enough. Who are not only showing the preverbal finger to our societal expectations but also standing up and calling out the Toxic Masculinity that seems to surface. You see it is becoming more apparent that our way of thinking needs to change, and we need to teach the younger generation how they need to change their thinking. For instance, recently I went out to see my ex and collect my son. The comment from him was “geez you’re falling out of your clothes” – referring to a low cut top. My response was that I’m not falling anywhere. I had to explain to my son, when he agreed with his dad, that it is a toxic way of thinking when you tell a woman that what she’s wearing is revealing and that it’s offending someone else. As for why would it matter? Why must I take responsibility for “in case” another man thinks sexual thoughts of me? Why must we as women be careful of how we dress and take responsibility for another adult’s way of thinking?
My son is – as most boys would be – very protective over me. You see my children have walked this modelling journey with me. My children have seen first hand the ugliness that comes through my Messenger, Direct Messages on Instagram and emails. They have also experienced men’s responses or reaction when they recognise me in public. This has created a very vigilant and to some degree frustrated boy. He’s view on men, in general, is as cynical as most women. He knows – as does my daughter – that not ALL men are the same. Yet there is enough abuse to make most women fear all men.
Recently my daughter (19) discussed with me a topic discussed on a podcast that she listed. “What would you do, if there were no men around for 24 hours”? Her answer: “walk down the road” …… read that again. My daughter is one of the most emotionally mature individuals I know, however, she’s super anxious about men. Being around men in public, being around men at the gym, being around men at shopping outlets. And me as a mother? I cannot necessarily tell her not to be. She cannot afford to ever let her guard down.
How are we going to move forward?
We’ve come to a reality where men often now apologise on behalf of other men when this topic is raised, yet the same man will not stand up against his peers when a “sandwich” joke is made, or when “women belong in the kitchen” joke is made. No one tells another guy to remove himself or to shut up when he gets aggressive with his partner or uses his manipulation to control his partner. No one stands up and tells another man to pipe down when they make derogatory remarks or sexual connotation in public or as comments on social media posts or in their private WhatsApp all men groups.
So that brings me back to the statistics. How do we as women trust men? Men in general. Looking at the stats, looking at the way men STILL behave and talk, and looking at how many men actually stand up for this. How many men are willing to acknowledge that there is a HUGE femicide problem and a problem with men hurting women, men sexually harassing, sexually assaulting and sexually abusing women AND standing up against this? How many men are willing to drop their masculine ego, their toxic behaviours and accept that a woman is a human being – and not a sex object, not subservient, not stupid and not “lesser” sex? How many men are willing to stop making the same shit excuses like: “well look at what you are wearing” or “look at what you are posting – do you blame them”
I feel like too much is always said but not enough is done. Our police system is unable to protect us. Our society is against us. Our religions encourage the suppression of women. Yes, it’s not all men…. but it’s most men…..