My 15-year-old friend E. She writes it better than I ever could for her. And listen up to what she has to say – it is shocking, upsetting, maddening, and super important: (she wanted me to publish this here even though I told her I have a fan base of about three people on a good day!)
My name is Esther and I want women’s rights. I’m not pushy or aggressive; I’m just a girl who doesn’t want to be seen as inferior or as an object of sexuality because of my gender. I may be only a teenager, but I have been treated unjustly and inappropriately already.
Since the age of about 11, men have been approaching me with offers, passes and many other things. I’m now 15 and I get more unwanted attention than ever. Just the other day, I was engaged in conversation by a man who complimented me on my shoes. I responded with a thank you and said that I liked his shirt, which was of my favourite movies. He told me that I should try it (the shirt) on some time. Although this wasn’t an outright sexual comment, there was a lot implied in that short sentence.
However, I have been approached in many openly sexual ways. Once, a man grabbed me, hugged me, told me that I was beautiful and, when he tried to kiss me, I ran for it leaving him behind along with the sexual gestures he was making that involved his fingers and his mouth. This man was at least 60 years old. I didn’t report it to the police because this isn’t an uncommon occurrence and I didn’t think that it was worth reporting. Although, the man in the previous encounter was old, I’ve seen them come in all shapes, sizes, and ages. I had a boy who was about two years older than me ask me to take my shirt off and if he could touch my neck. Later, he ran into me rather fondly and held me closer than I was comfortable with. Now yes, I have a boyfriend, and it’s not that I don’t like men and I think they’re all bad. That’s not the case. I know lots of great men and boys.
What I think we need in our society is a respect for women taught from a young age, the same way respect is taught to us in regards to men. We aren’t so different, after all. We still have a brain, two lungs, a heart, motivation and determination. I shouldn’t have to walk around in fear of men who are much larger and stronger than me approaching me with passes or physical advances. I shouldn’t be afraid that if I say “no” to a man that he’d hurt me. I shouldn’t be afraid to tell a man that I’m uncomfortable with his behaviour or fear that he will hit me for that. I shouldn’t be afraid to respond with authority and conviction to an inappropriate remark made by a man without people saying that I was asking for it by back talking him. I should absolutely not have to walk with my keys between my knuckles because I know that if a larger man pinned me down I would have absolutely no chance at defending myself because the fact is, I’m 120 pounds soaking wet. I want a world where I can walk freely down the street and not be intimidated by anybody, man or woman. All I want is for women to be seen as equals to men, and my opinion is that the key element to all this is that we teach respect for everyone; young and old, tall and short, rich and poor, male, female and however else you may (or may not) identify. All deserve to be treated the same. No one deserves to be degraded and treated like all they’re good for is sexual things.
I don’t want my future children to have to grow up in a world where they’re afraid to walk down the street and afraid to answer a question. I don’t want my daughters to be approached in a sexual manner like I have been, whether it’s by a man, a woman or anyone else. This can’t continue. I need women’s rights.