I watched a murder trial in high school. A man was accused of murdering his wife because she had left him. I listened to the testimony of her father, describing the incidents in their relationship that he had witnessed. His daughter was referred to by her full name, Elizabeth, but during a story when she had called him terrified because her husband was trying to break in the door at her apartment he slipped and called her Betsy.
It was utterly heartbreaking.
Her husband sat next to his lawyer, showing no emotion. He was later convicted of her murder in one of the first murder cases in Washington State to use DNA evidence.
It’s a stock news story. It happens all the time. Women being killed by their husbands, boyfriends, neighbors, and friends because they didn’t want to be under their control. Women in abusive relationships are mocked and people shake their heads and wonder why they don’t just leave.
To leave a bad relationship, a woman must be willing to pay with her life.
Not all women have been in abusive relationships or assaulted. Not all women have direct experience with that.
But ALL women have experienced the sentiment that we are only worthwhile if we are pretty objects that please men. ALL women have been told in one way or another that we are less than men, that to be feminine is to be undeserving of respect.
I’ve heard so many men say that they didn’t understand what women went through until they had daughters. These are men who are good guys, but they didn’t fully respect women until their daughters forced them to.
It’s absolutely ridiculous that it needs to be said that the #YesAllWomen Twitter hashtag isn’t man bashing. And yet, for every woman who shares a story, there’s a man chiming in that not all men are rapists, abusers, and street harassers.
If there are men who feel victimized by women speaking about their victimization that’s a problem. If there are men who feel that they deserve special recognition because they haven’t raped someone? The problem is worse than we want to recognize.