No one is safe Perspective Special projects

Watch out – small aggressive acts forewarn violence

A man staring at the author on a bus in Istanbul. (Bilge Nur Güven/YJI)

A man twice your age stares at you on the bus. You brush it off. You get catcalled on the street. Well, it happens to everyone. Your boyfriend kisses you even though you told him no a minute ago.

Boys will be boys.

At what point does sexual violence cross the line? Is it when you’re groped at a concert? No, that’s still too light. Let’s say someone spiked your drink then. You should have been covering your glass. Someone rapes you.

Oh, I see you took a pause now.

Sexual violence is so normalized in society that we don’t even flinch at the thought anymore. 

It is not normal to be harassed every time you go out. It is not normal to be scared all the time. 

Assault of any degree is not acceptable under any circumstance.

Normalizing microaggressions work to minimize macroaggressions. When you are used to hearing a sexual assault story every day, it ceases to be out of the ordinary. 

Assaulters find courage from the lack of reaction to microaggressions – so it’s easy for them to plan more severe attacks. After all, it won’t surprise anyone.

On the flip side, the male gender presents itself to be so incompetent that anything its members do that is not completely horrific gains them praise.

A man who respects a woman and her boundaries instantly becomes Prince Charming. He does not deserve praise for the bare minimum, for acting like a human being.

Women are so used to expecting the worst from men that when he acts simply tolerable, he is given the highest of titles.

You have of course heard of male stereotypes. Men don’t feel emotions, they can’t cook or clean, and all they think about is sex.

These stereotypes work to form a warped perception of society. The plot twist is, the patriarchy is harmful to everyone, including men.

For instance, let’s take a basic human experience: feeling emotions. We see that men commonly externalize their feelings through rage, because they were never taught how to properly deal with them. They weren’t allowed to cry because it was “girly.”

Women, on the other hand, are called derogatory names when they show any type of emotion. Sad: too sensitive. Angry: hysterical. Confident: bossy.

We could sit here all day listing examples, but you already know that.

So, what can you do? Isn’t society too messed up anyway?

Society is made up of people, of individuals. The action of any individual holds weight, whether it is morally good, bad or neutral.

You can choose to use your voice for either of these effects. I believe that you can use it for good.

Speak up.

Bilge Nur Güven is a Senior Reporter with Youth Journalism International.

This article is part of the No one is safe project about sexual assault around the world. It is being published in five parts of six article each on Mondays and Thursday, beginning Nov. 29, 2021. For links to the published project, click below.

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