Last week, a new finding was published from the United Kingdom. Researchers found that 97% of women aged 18-24 had been sexually harassed (UN Women, 2021), and 71% of women of all ages. For the sake of this survey, sexual harassment includes catcalling, stalking, and groping, among others. When this statistic came out, many people were surprised by how high the number was, but I wasn't one of them. I've been sexually harassed many times, most often when I was between the ages of eleven and fourteen. Every single one of my closest friends has been sexually assaulted, all of them perpetrated by men, all of them men they knew personally. Every girl has a friend who was raped if they weren't themselves. Statistics like these are incredibly concerning, and in other crimes where 97% of people had been victims, there would be something done about it. This statistic is a symptom of a much larger problem: misogyny
For years, sex crimes have been treated as an unsolvable problem. People act as if it is an inevitable problem of the human condition, specifically for men; "boys will be boys", right? We say that men are animals, that they are incapable of controlling themselves when they are around women. Thusly, we shift the responsibility to women to prevent their own assaults rather than teaching men not to assault people. From the first time a girl is pulled out of class or sent home because what she is wearing is "distracting" to the boys around her, to when she is told the way she was dressed was "asking for it", women are taught that the violence committed against us is our own fault. In truth, our notion of gender cannot be separated from violence as it occurs today, and there is much work to be done if there will ever be a world where women are truly safe from gender-motivated attacks.