Let’s talk about this image which has been making the rounds on the net lately. Firstly, as a woman of colour and as an intersectional feminist I would like to say that I stand firmly and solidly in an unwavering solidarity with my fellow sisters and feminists in the Western developed societies. Though I acknowledge that women in developed Western societies have many privileges that women in the developing world lack, such as safety from threat of war, easier access to health care, women’s shelters, laws that protect women more easily in areas of domestic violence etc; I am still educated and aware enough, not to mention CARE enough to know that women in the West face SIGNIFICANT limitations and barriers to their safety, security, health, bodily autonomy, sexual freedom and equality within the law. If there are any doubts, here are SOME basic facts about the way that women in the West are treated and the abuses that they suffer.every.single.day:
1-On average two women a week are killed by a violent partner or ex-partner in the UK, while three are killed in the US. According to the UN In Australia, Canada, Israel, South Africa and the United States, intimate partner violence accounts for between 40 and 70% of female murder victims.
2-Up to 3 million women and girls across the UK experience rape, domestic violence, stalking, or other violence each year.
3-Almost 1 in 3 girls have experienced unwanted sexual touching at school in the UK and Australia. According to the UN Between 40 and 50% of women in European Union countries experience unwanted sexual advances, physical contact or other forms of sexual harassment at work. In the US, 83% of girls aged 12 to 16 have experienced some form of sexual harassment in public schools. On average, women in the UK contact 11 agencies before they receive the help they need. For black women this rises to 17 agencies. One study in Canada found that women who lived with heavy drinkers were five times more likely to be assaulted by their partners than those who lived with non-drinkers.
4- in the UK 36% of people believe that a woman should be held wholly or partly responsible for being sexually assaulted or raped if she was drunk and 26% believe this if she was in public wearing sexy or revealing clothes. And 1 in 5 people think it would be acceptable in certain circumstances for a man to hit or slap his female partner in response to her being dressed in sexy or revealing clothing in public.
5- On average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner in the US, based on a survey conducted in 2010. Over the course of a year, that equals more than 12 million women and men. According to the same 2010 survey nearly 1 in 5 women (18%) and 1 in 71 men (1%) have been raped in their lifetime. Approximately 1.3 million women were raped during the year preceding the survey. One in 4 women have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner, while 1 in 7 men have experienced the same. One in 6 women (16%) have been stalked during their lifetime, compared to 1 in 19 men (5%). Men play a major role in these statistics and they need to be active participants in resolving some of these issues!
6-In the US alone the murder rate of people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and HIV-affected (LGBTQH) is at its highest, according to a recently released 2011 report from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP). The report also shows that transgender women, people of color, and youth and young adults are at a disproportionately high risk of being victims of what the NCAVP terms hate violence. The overall number of hate murders of members of the LGBTQH community has increased by 11%. Of those murdered, 87% were people of color, showing an increase from 70% in 2010. Furthermore, people who identify as transgender were 28% more likely to experience physical violence than those who are gender normative, according to the media release about the report. The global figures are terrifying and sickening to look it in relation to LGBTQ+ people and their safety and security!
7-The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry reports that child sexual abuse has been reported up to 80,000 times a year, but the number of unreported instances is far greater, because the children are afraid to tell anyone what has happened. According to UNICEF among victims of child abuse, 40 per cent report domestic violence in the home. One study in North America found that children who were exposed to violence in the home were 15 times more likely to be physically and/or sexually assaulted than the national average. These statistics have huge repercussions for the level of safety and security, domestic violence and sexual assault and rape consequences within society. Fathers play a major role in this issue and it is essential that they take responsibility and actively participate in resolving domestic violence issues.
8- According to the US Department of Health and Human Services system responses are primarily targeted toward adult victims of abuse. Studies estimate that 10 to 20% of children are at risk for exposure to domestic violence. These findings translate into approximately 3.3 to 10 million children who witness the abuse of a parent or adult caregiver each year. Research also indicates children exposed to domestic violence are at an increased risk of being abused or neglected. A majority of studies reveal there are adult and child victims in 30 to 60% of families experiencing domestic violence. Feminists consistently demand transparency, support and reforms to laws to protect children and victims of domestic violence because we recognize that these statistics have huge long term negative repercussions within society.
9- In the UK alone women make up only 17% board directors of FTSE 100 companies.A study by the Fawcett Society found that 51% of women and men from middle management to director level identify stereotyping as the major hurdle facing women at work.Up to 30,000 women are sacked each year simply for being pregnant and each year an estimated 440,000 women lose out on pay or promotion as a result of pregnancy. 14% of White British women have been asked about their plans for marriage and/or children at a job interview compared to 20-25% of Black Caribbean, Bangladeshi and Pakistani women. 26% of trade union branches have received enquiries from members who have been exposed to the sex industry – including pornography – at work. It is estimated that the UK would gain up to £23 billion (the equivalent to 2% of GDP) by better harnessing women’s skills in employment.
These are just some of the basic facts that you can find out with a simple google search. If women want to make large and bold statements on behalf of other women as in this image here, the least they can do is to do their basic research before they speak. Because when you make such statements there are 100’s of other uneducated, uninformed misogynistic men and women who will blindly agree with you without any care for the horrible statistics noted above.
Finally, DESTROY THE IDEA THAT WOMEN IN THE WEST DO NOT NEED FEMINISM AND THAT THEY HAVE GAINED ALL THEIR RIGHTS! Destroy the idea that if we need to look for oppression of women we need to go to Africa or to Middle East because women AND MEN in the West suffer DAILY from abuses, marginalization, and murder based on their gender or sexual orientation! Your ignorance is LITERALLY killing people!
This is a hard one for many women. We have been taught consistently to apologise- apologise for taking up space, for breathing, for speaking, for eating, for having an opinion, for people bumping against us, for being catcalled, for being harassed and abused in public and private spaces in our lives. To learn to stop saying sorry is a revolutionary act for women because it is to retake control, to remove the internalization of misogyny and to reject the colonisation of our minds by harmful patriarchal practices!
Pay attention to the way you speak and focus on the ways in which you apologize unnecessarily, not just verbally but also physically in taking up space or trying to make your body smaller, in forcing it to fit in to a number of unattainable standards. Remember that you have a right to exist, to be loud, to be who you are, to dress as you please, to wear make up or not to wear make up, to wear short dresses or to cover up, that you do not have to smile or be attractive, to love who you want or to refuse advances; You have a right to say NO at any time.
I also slightly disagree with Amy’s statement. It does not have to take years to stop apologizing. We just need to start now and be committed wholeheartedly to our own and other women’s empowerment! Start today ladies! start today to stop apologizing and start standing taller with the full knowledge of your rights as a woman and as a human being.