There have been overwhelming responses to the growing number of sexual harassment exposés in the past few months. Many would say that it’s tiring to see such stories in the news constantly, but it’s also proof that this problem has remained silent for far too long. And we commend those who have been brave enough to come forward or speak up on behalf of victims.
But amid the support, there are, sadly, insensitive questions and statements thrown at the victims. It may either be due to their ignorance or a not-so-subtle way to shame them. In a time wherein both women and men are given the avenue to fight against their abusers, there’s certainly no room for the phrases that we’ve listed down below. This is also a reminder for those who need to reevaluate the way they approach sexual harassment as a whole.
“Why only now?”
This a common question, especially toward people who were harassed or abused a while back. You might not realize it but the victims often live in fear of what could happen if they spoke up. They worry about what people will say, the possibility of being ostracized by those around them, and nobody believing them. Let’s not forget that suspects are usually those in power or people who are close to the victims, so it certainly wasn’t easy for them.
“You shouldn’t have posted sexually explicit stuff.”
Being open about one’s sexuality, regardless of gender or age, isn’t an open invitation for harassment or unwarranted lewd offers. It’s also not an invitation for anyone to be persistent after being told “no.” Consent matters, people.
“Why didn’t you say no? Why did you reply?”
These two questions are often asked together. Based on what has been happening recently, the victims do say no but the predators remain persistent. Even if they’re ignored. It seems easy to brush them off, but it’s not and it can be traumatizing.
“I thought you wanted to flirt.”
So, just because the victim wanted to flirt with someone, they should expect that they’ll be harassed and accept it if it does happen? Does it give predators a free pass to harass women? I don’t think so. Please take a step back if you have this mentality.
“Where’s your evidence?”
It’s true that people are innocent until proven otherwise. But when women come forward with stories of harassment or rape, they don’t gain anything from it. Why would they lie about this when they’re asking for help and justice, not money? Plus, not everyone has “receipts” of what transpired. But if several others can corroborate the story, what’s your reason to disbelieve their plea? Just look at what happened with Donald Trump and Bill Cosby. Even after so many women came forward, they’re still seen as innocent men and are still in power.
“Give them a chance to change.”
Oh, but did they give the victims a chance to say no? Did they give them space? This statement is also enabling the perpetrators because it perpetuates the idea that they won’t face consequence; that’s it’s better to give them 10 more second chances before they hold accountable for their actions.
“Think of the lives you’re ruining.”
It’s not the victims’ fault nor responsibility. If the suspects cared about their jobs, families, and reputations, then they wouldn’t do such heinous things to others. Harvey Weinstein lost his job and everyone’s respect after he was outed, and it was all on him. Don’t you dare point fingers in the wrong direction.
Art by Lara Intong
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