Trigger warning: there are mentions of sexual abuse and victim blaming in the post.
Recently, I was browsing through this website when I came across an unsettling post written by a woman named Valeria Ochoa: Why Men Don’t Respect Us, Ladies. After reading it, I shared the article (rant) with a few of my friends (Marilyn, Tana, Alanah, Samantha) and asked for their perspective on the stance the author takes with the issues presented in the rant. After talking about the post, I wanted to share our responses to the article. 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: Victim Blaming & Sexual Assault
The issue we had with the article is that it takes on a traditional, yet outdated look at what a woman is, without considering how other women could be affected by the author’s presumably sexist opinions. Yes, the author is a woman. Yes, it's possible for women to 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 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, are respects comes from 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.
Illustration by: Debi Hasky
Gauging other women's perspectives
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.
Different Women, Same Point Of View
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 sexually molested or harassed by men, the numbers would be painstakingly high.- Tana M.
A Baptist Woman's Perspective
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've experienced harassment. 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 catcall 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 show 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.
Illustration by: Debi Husky
“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.
What Do We Think?
Women shouldn’t have to ‘behave like a princess’ 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 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.
illustration by: Debi Husky