Celebrate International Women's Day By Being A Good Human
Some thoughts on International Women's Day on being a better human being and treating women with respect.
[Editor's note: This article has updated from its previous iteration, published on the same day last year]
There’s a highly probable chance a woman you know has been abused during some stage of her life*.
If you’re reading this and read that first sentence and kinda shrugged it off because you know your girlfriends better than anyone, I strongly implore you to actually take pause and give it some thought. And be open to the awful reality that it’s almost more likely a girl has experienced some form of abuse in their life than not.
I’m not gonna base this off statistics or online polls or researched papers (though there are plenty out there), I’m purely basing it off personal experience and shared stories. Why not stats? Because sometimes they can feel far off, distant, numbers on a page. I feel like the fact you can just talk to some of the people in your small friends circle and discover crazy-high levels of abuse is far more relatable, and a strong indicator of just how bad it is.
What kind of abuse? Sometimes it’s a kiss while they were passed out at a party from some random dude. Maybe it’s getting constant and insistent Facebook messages that don’t take no for an answer. Or having a screaming match at a music festival. Or much, much worse.
And we can’t continue to accept it as a thing that just happens.
And it starts with us, the blessed men-folk of the world – and taking a stand against dudes being shit blokes, not accepting it as the status quo. Treating women like they’re some kind of subspecies not worthy of our attention shouldn't just be how it is.
Sometimes we take our privileged status in society for granted. And bandy around words like “sluts” like it makes no difference. Sure the girls you’re referring to might laugh along with you because you’re just having a laugh. But when was the last time a girl used a derogatory term to your face, just having a laugh?
We can’t just accept this is an okay way to act around other human beings.
Would you ever call your mum a slut? Even just for laughs?
No one, man or woman, should have to put up with bad behaviour simply because it causes less trouble by doing so.
Being an awful human being and treating other people like shit instills a belief that it’s okay to be treated like shit, especially if ‘that’s just how it is’ within a particular friend circle. And victims of abuse can often try and find ways to put themselves at blame. Try to brush over it or justify why it happened to them. Be it as small as a passing negative comment, or something far, far worse. It’s never okay.
Don’t let that be how it is. Don’t accept treating others like shit as ‘funny’ or just ‘how the boyz roll’.
And while I’ve pointed towards abuse – this isn’t about taking pity on the fairer sex. It’s about celebrating them and being fair to them, and treating them like equals (at the very least).
And if you're reading this, thinking to yourself, "I treat others equally, I am a good person" that's great, but I also implore you to extend that into educating or calling out your friends and others where who don't treat others equally.
Don’t accept it. Don’t accept creepy, derogatory or oppressive behaviour. If you’ve got a friend using abusive language towards a girl – laughing or otherwise – call him out. It can be something as simple as telling a mate to move on if he keeps hassling a girl for just that bit too long after she already told him she’s not interested. If you sit around and let it happen, how can change ever be expected to occur?
This quote from Edmund Burke sums it up pretty perfectly:
"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
Last year when this was published it was under the title "Dudes, look after your girls" - and hindsight tells me while the message was almost right, the delivery wasn't.
It's not girls who need our help. It's us who need to help each other be better. And it starts with following a pretty simple message:
Be a good human.
The writer wishes to remain anonymous. Header photo via Allaire Bartel.
*Yes there's also a chance a male friend you know has been abused in some way shape or form, but today is International Women's Day, hence why we're focusing on that (this might seem unnecessary to point out, but a lot of Facebook comment threads will tell you otherwise).