KARACHI: 2018 was a very interesting year for women. While it would be foolish to forget that the original #MeToo movement was founded by human rights activist Tarana Burke in 2006, a global reckoning emerged when Harvey Weinstein was charged with sexual assault in 2017. Then, 2018 became all about women’s need to speak up and it happened simultaneously all over the world.
Scores of women exposed some of the biggest names in Bollywood, India, while Meesha Shafi came forward with sexual harassment allegations against Ali Zafar in Pakistan. In Kenya, several women reported sexual assault that took place in hospitals. In the US, the very high profile case involving the Associate Justice for the US Supreme Court, Brett Cavanaugh and his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford came to light and numerous other high-profile cases became the topic of conversation.
Clearly, women are slowly and gradually speaking up when it comes to sexual assault but there are other things that women now need to start saying in 2019. We start off with the most basic of them all.
We understand that simply saying no won’t really help in the case of rape or an incident of sexual assault, but there are other places where women need to start saying no. From a young age, we’re conditioned to be obedient and to always be ‘easy-going’. So we’re afraid to make demands or afraid to say no when asked for favours, afraid to say no to our parents, siblings, in-laws and even friends.
In 2019, learn to say no when you don’t feel like doing something. Here’s an easy one: If you boyfriend turns around and says, “Hey! Will you put up with the emotionally abusive shit I dump on you while claiming to love you?” you can answer with a “nope!”
This makes me uncomfortable
There will be many instances where you may feel uncomfortable and scared to speak up. For instance, that sexist friend of yours keep talking down women in front of you or your colleague cracks inappropriate jokes and you can’t figure out if this is borderline sexual harassment or just a harmless comment. Or that creepy uncle keeps following you in the park where you go for an evening run.
Please, tell people that they are making you uncomfortable. It’s very likely that the ones doing these things won’t really care or might even be aggressive as a result, but there might be some who may stop after being told off once.
I want this
This has a lot to with the same conditioning mentioned above. Women are afraid to be assertive, demanding or bossy. Therefore, they’ll settle for less pay or abusive relationships because they are afraid to ask for what they want.
Take the example of the workplace. So many women are afraid to ask for a raise, or the corner office or some other perks. This is simply because women are generally discouraged from asking for what they want.
Start asking for things cause you cannot expect to wait around for others to just hand it to you.
I don’t need validation from men
This is something you’ll need to tell yourself over and over again because it’s so deeply ingrained in our brains. If your self-esteem is low, seeking validation or approval from men is simply not the answer because it puts too much power in somebody else’s hands.
You don’t need men to tell you that you’re good enough. YOU need to tell yourself that you’re good enough. Say it loudly, say it in your head, write it to yourself – do whatever it takes.
Because sometimes people need to be put in their place and nothing other than these two words can do the trick. No explanation needed.