Recently I came across an Instagram story that completely set me off. In the story, the person shared that someone high up in the company she is interning at greeted her in the morning by saying “hi sweetie”. He then proceeded to complain with his companion about how sensitive women nowadays are when she didn’t respond in a way that he found acceptable. Besides the fact that this is a form of intimidation it also speaks to the entitlement that this guy is walking around with thinking that because he was “polite” (this is highly debatable) he should have received an enthusiastic response.
This male person is certainly not the only one who feels this way. A woman was shot a while back because she rejected a man’s advances. Another was killed by a male co-worker for having rejected his advances. Elliot Rodger went on a killing rampage to punish a woman who had rejected him.
It’s easy to see these incidents and think of them as isolated and tragic stories rather than seeing them as a representation of the embedded misogyny in our society. It’s difficult to admit that gender-based violence is not the doing of a limited number of men but rather a cultural problem.
It’s also easy to turn these discussions into victim blaming. Often it will then be debated whether women should talk to strangers or lie about having a significant other, or if women should always be aware of their drinks, or if they should even be kind to others. This puts the burden solely on women and that of itself is unjust. Women should undoubtedly be able to say no without repercussions. And women should never have to apologize for rejecting a man.
Straight male entitlement is a major part of our society. It affects our interpersonal relationships and works dynamics it’s clear for all to see in pop culture and media. The stories seem endless and aren’t just limited to the USA.
In 2017 it was reported that one woman dies every three days in France as a result of domestic violence. When Anders Breivik killed dozens in his terrorist attack in Norway, he explicitly held feminism responsible for his actions. In the Netherlands, it’s reported that over a fifth of all women is a victim of sexual assault.
Women should not live in fear of turning down a date. They shouldn’t think that by exercising their right to chose they might end up dead. If this wasn’t a systemic problem, I and many others wouldn’t have been taught not to walk the streets alone at night. If you are alone, hold your keys in your hand in a manner which would allow you to hurt your attacker enough to be able to flee. But this is what we as women are taught, we should always be on alert, we should always protect ourselves because boys will be boys.
However, while misogyny is widespread and deep-seated in our society it is not an absolute truth. An absolute truth is this; Women, we belong to ourselves and no one else. We owe no one access to our bodies, our time, our affection or even a conversation. So, men everywhere let me tell you, women owe you nothing, not a smile, not a greeting not her time or attention. Nothing at all no matter her age or lifestyle. Sexual Assault is so often in the news in Aruba recently making it essential that we of the younger generation not only set higher standards for men but also clearly indicate our boundaries and state from the start that we as women owe men absolutely nothing.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blogost are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official views of Phryme Magazine.