Say NO to Gender-Based Violence
Gender-based violence is a problem for everyone, not just its victims. It exists because, among many other reasons, society has taught us to devalue femininity, to judge women based on their appearance, and to have no mercy when it comes to questioning whether a woman has too much or too little sex.
Because we were told that “if he hits you it’s because he likes you,” and because we’ve set a bad example when raising our children. Because maybe saying “children are cruel” has a lot more to do with the conscious and unconscious cruelty of the adult world. We can all easily understand expressions like “you run like a girl,” “you fight like a girl,” “you laugh like a girl,” and the same insult in all its other versions.
As if “being a girl” puts us outside the spectrum of strength. As if being a girl makes us weak, incompetent, and clumsy. But worst of all, we live with, understand, and in the worst cases, tolerate these “beliefs” as completely normal.
Even though this is just the tip of the iceberg, it’s the reason that we dedicate every November 25th to fighting against the social scar we call gender-based violence.
When you see someone who’s been mistreated, you can’t unsee it
Every year, thousand of women die because somebody killed them or abused them just for being a woman. Sadly and simply, this is the horrific reality we live in.
And there are millions of violent people in the world who are a product of a system that historically subjugates, oppresses, exploits, objectifies, reduces, dominates, and kills women.
Why? Because we live in a sick society that tolerates viewing women as inferior and creates people who think they can appropriate and manage women’s bodies and feelings at their will.
We can raise people in a different way
In order to say “no more,” we need to start by educating our children and raising their awareness of the need for equality. We need to do away with those “ideals” of the damsel in distress and the violent macho man, because that’s where the mistreatment of women originates.
Murder, the most visible result of gender-based violence, is the last rung of the ladder. It starts with a deficient upbringing that feeds into dependency and necessity, that results in mistreatment and abuse, and that ends up killing women physically and psychologically.
A high percentage of the world population doesn’t even consider psychological abuse to be a form of gender-based violence. They don’t understand that subjugation is an attack on the person involved.
Our society is in need of a huge educational reform, because only education can save us from violence. We must remember that:
- Social and emotional isolation…IS ABUSE.
- Emotional blackmail…IS ABUSE.
- Covert and overt insults…ARE ABUSE.
- Controlling a woman’s cellphone, personal accounts, and social networks…IS ABUSE.
- Threats and slurs…ARE ABUSE.
- Controlling what a women wears…IS ABUSE.
- Emotional coldness…IS ABUSE.
- Verbal aggression, dominating behaviors (threatening to end the relationship), and jealousy…IS ABUSE.
- Social, professional, and economic discrimination…IS ABUSE.
If we start from the foundation, we’ll end up with a castle that’s built to support a healthy society that’s free of abuse, violence, and prejudice.
Violence doesn’t care how old you are
It’s especially important to reeducate society “from the bottom up,” given the “resurfacing” of abuse that we’re seeing today. Subjugation “in the name of love” has been completely normalized among most of today’s young people.
This is extremely concerning when you realize that this is the stage of life where they start to form beliefs and learn about love and romantic relationships.
This is when girls start to idealize love, when they aspire to be delicate princesses who need a prince to protect them and carry them through life with all the strength, determination, bravery, and dominance that a great man should have.
This is when violent behavior is trivialized and normalized, when they start to believe that if you don’t put up with everything, you’re not “fighting for love.”
We should educate them not only about equality, but also about how it’s everyone’s responsibility to combat violence and mistreatment against women, just for being women. It’s crucial to teach young people that saying “NO” is possible, and above all, necessary.
From princesses to engineers
We should break the “girls wear pink” stereotype and empower girls to use toys, objects, clothing, and tools that will teach them the value of equality over conformity.
We should make sure that the things that surround our children will help them think and self-criticize, that they promote the capacity to enhance their skills, and that they come to see technology as fun and appealing.
And if they want to be princesses, they should be princesses, but strong and independent ones. And if they want to be engineers, they should be able to freely choose to do so, and continue being strong and independent.
And we should teach our boys that there’s a new way to be men. We should teach them that being masculine means showing affection, taking care of others, expressing your emotions, being respectful, fighting for gender equality, preventing women from being subjected to sacrifices and suffering, abandoning violence, taking care of the house, etc.
Hopefully in a short time we can erase November 25th from the calendar as the Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Hopefully we can get rid of it and forget that it even existed, because then women won’t be vulnerable anymore, and nobody will think they have the right to mistreat us or do whatever they please with our lives.