What do we do as a society when we hear these girls walking down the street, screaming so loud to just be respected as a human being rather than a creature who is dressed to please the male gaze? Do we praise these women for being strong and combat the men who look at females as pieces of meat rather than someone with a heart, a brain, and a soul?
No. That would be… unthinkable.
Instead, we put our young women into schools crowded with adolescent boys and teach the girls to play coy and not to take up space. We teach them to cover their shoulders and wear jeans that are flattering to the figure, but not tight enough to make the boys act up in class. We teach them that they must dress to appease the judgements of others, but not enough to draw extra attention from their male counterparts. We teach them to feel confident in their skin, just make sure they don’t show too much of it.
On the other hand, we teach our boys nothing. They may dress, act, and speak as they please, exploiting the long-held, deeply ingrained patriarchal values of society and the educational school system.
I recently overheard a group of teenage boys discussing how their girlfriend did not want him to “feel her up” and his response to this while explaining the story to his friends was, “I do not know why girls are like that. It’s so annoying. Guys aren’t like that.”
This shows that not only girls taught from a young age that they must live their lives in accordance with what is best and easiest for their male peers, they are also ridiculed when stating that they would not like to be groped, even if they are dating.
As the conversation went on, I was even more disgusted to realize that rather than speaking up against this boy, his friends were agreeing and encouraging the idea that the girl should have “just let him feel her up”.
I hope that we take this as a reminder that as we are getting older and are looked to as a role model, not only for our own children, but for all children in our community, to be a person that respects females. No breakout of the habit of internalized misogyny and speak against things that you overhear or read. We must teach our children consent and respect, for all, not only females or males or nonbinary. Everyone deserves to be looked to and respected as a human being.