This abuse does not exist in a vacuum. This abuse happens because culturally in Australia, and the rest of the world, violence and abuse against women is considered culturally acceptable. Not just the kind of abuse I’ve experienced this week either – rape, physical assault and murder are excused repeatedly. Victims are blamed for their abuse – either they are told they actually did the wrong thing, ie were in the wrong place, wearing the wrong thing, behaving the wrong way etc, or if they do speak up, they are accused of “playing the victim” or “drawing negative attention to themselves”.
The most horrifying fact is that many women internalise these dehumanising messages and then turn them on their fellow women. Just this week in my own experience, many women actively recruited men to help them abuse me online when I refused to apologise for telling them to fuck off out of my space. This is disgusting behaviour, and a prime example of internalised misogyny. “Women aren’t allowed to say that!” or “What a bitch, she’s going DOWN!” Not once did I initiate contact with any of these people, nor did I go to their online spaces to leave abuse or even respond to them, the only time I responded was when they approached me, and mostly it was simply to tell them to fuck off out of my space.
There is NO excuse for violence against women. There is NO reason that a woman is to blame for being abused. No matter how she dresses, where she goes, what she does with her own body, what she drinks or consumes, what she says or how she behaves.
Women do not have to be nice, polite or submissive. Women are allowed to say NO. Women have every right to tell someone who comes into her space, be it physical or online to fuck off. Women don’t have to give someone “the benefit of the doubt”. If she does, and that person then abuses her, she is then blamed for not protecting herself. “What was she thinking!?” people cry. She was clearly thinking that she should give someone “the benefit of the doubt” like she was told to do. Women are allowed to be loud, to swear, to dress themselves however they like, to have consensual sex with whoever they wish to, to be angry, to inhabit any public space without it drawing violence to her. Women are even allowed to be rude, cranky, impolite, abrasive, abrupt, nasty, bitchy… and all those other words that are shame code for “women being assertive” without it drawing violence to her.
If you do not like a woman, walk away. Don’t pursue her into her space either online or physically. Do not force her to pay attention to you when she does not want to. Do not bully her anonymously to try to shame or silence her. Don’t try to passive aggressively shame her by claiming you are offering “constructive criticism” when she does not want it and you are in her space. You are not “offering” anything, you are forcing her, and that is violence against her. Don’t recruit your friends or men to bully her if she doesn’t respond to your demands. Do not abuse her for being rude if she walks away from you or tells you to leave her alone, even if she says “fuck off” in doing so. She has every right to do so and owes you nothing.
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