This Monday, February 10th a new project has begun. Ninth, 10th, 11th and 12th grade are currently learning public speaking as part of their English class. To be able to master public speaking there has to be practice, and what better way than doing it with friends and classmates? Each morning right before school, a student will come up to the podium and share with everyone their thoughts.
The first up was Simrit Prem Kaur and this what she shared:
Good morning ladies an gentlemen. Today I would like to speak about an issue which has affected me my entire life. When I was little, I didn’t think this issue applied to me, and that it was just other women who were affected. But as I’ve become more aware of my surroundings and more exposed to the culture which I live in, I’ve realized that this issue can no longer be ignored. What I’m going to talk about today may not be the most exciting topic to some of you, but it is of extreme importance, and needs to be brought to your attention.
When I was little I saw my mother punch three different men on three different occasions. In each of those moments, I was mostly embarrassed and ashamed, but looking back, I could not be any more proud of my mother for hitting those men and standing up for herself. She had a very valid reason for punching them, and that reason is that they were not respecting her. Either verbally or physically.
The first time was at a community potluck where a homeless man approached her and said things that made her feel uncomfortable, especially in front of her nine year old daughter who was extremely impressionable. As his verbal abuse became more intense, she could no longer take it, and so she pulled her fist back and drove it into the mans face. He stumbled backwards while screaming profanities at her. By that point my step-dad ran over and removed my mother from the situation. She began to sob, and I was left feeling confused. I knew that my mom didn’t want to hurt the man, but felt as she had to.
My mother has always been a very strong- willed feminist, and will do what she thinks is right. That day in front of all those people, a man was harassing her, and she took a stand not only for herself, but for women everywhere. If she hadn’t hit him, he may have gone on to believe that he could continue to treat women like crap because he is a man, and men are «superior».
Growing up, my mom has always told me to keep my rage in my fists, and not in my heart, because once it enters your heart it is very hard to remove. So I did just that. But as the rage of our society stayed in my fists, the fear of men grew in my heart. Women everywhere are afraid to walk home alone because they don’t know what could be waiting for them just around the corner. We are living in a society where it is acceptable to place the blame on the victim of a rape. Have you ever heard phrases such as: » Her skirt was too short» or «She was asking for it»? Hearing things like this makes me sick because in their minds it is always the woman’s fault. It’s ridiculous to be afraid to go anywhere by yourself, and yet thousands of women are faced with this fear every day.
This culture we are living in makes me so afraid for my little sisters, who are naive and pure, or my future children. How am I supposed to protect everyone I care about? Especially when men are applauded for acts such as «messing around» with girls. They’re called «players» and are told to «get some». This tells young boys that you’re supposed to treat women as objects instead of another human being who deserves love and respect.
And its such a double standard. When a man hooks up with a lot of women, he is patted on the back. But when a woman does the same thing, she is considered an outcast, and labeled as a «slut». Women are forced to live up to such high and impossible standards. They have to dress a certain way, they have to be skinny, but not too skinny, they have to wear make-up, but not too much. They have to be intelligent, but not so intelligent that they make their man feel lesser than them. Young girls see these Barbie-shaped women in magazines and on TV and they starve themselves half to death trying to reach a goal too high for even the most beautiful super-model.
Just because women have the same rights as men on paper, doesn’t mean they do in reality. Women get paid less, and usually don’t get their dream job because a «bigger», «stronger», «more educated» man can do it twice as well. No matter what people say, men and women are not being treated as equals. We are written off as «too emotional», and therefore, inept.
Instead of educating boys on how to treat women, we are pushing the matter away and pretending it doesn’t exist. This leaves boys with no other resources but the Internet, where they are taught that a woman likes to be shouted at and treated like dirt. It is from the media that they think its okay to wolf-whistle at a girl, and make gestures at them. I honestly don’t think that boys understand the impact this has on girls, and that they are damaging these girls for future relationships. If a girl is treated like crap by boys her whole life, she is going to believe that she deserves it, and is going to end up in an abusive relationship without even knowing it.
Every time I read about a rape or an abusive relationship it makes me sick to my stomach, because that girl is someone’s friend, someone’s sister, someone’s daughter. All I can hope for in the future is that men are taught that they need to be respectful and loving, and to treat every girl like they would want their sister to be treated. This society’s misogynistic attitude towards women needs to end. And soon.