By Whitney Akers, See the Triumph Contributor
This video is a roaring call to action for men in the community to take part in ending sexual violence, choosing to respect boundaries and thus respect women. We live in a culture in which women are seen as objects, often objects for the taking by men. Historically and even in the present day, war tactics have included raping women as a means to power and dominance over a culture, a barbaric and oppressive cultural display of ownership. We know this is wrong. We know this is a blatant violation of human rights. So why is it that even though we are not in active battle, men are still raping women? And how is it possible that in intimate relationships, connections supposed to be built upon foundations of trust, respect, and compassion, women are still raped by partners as if partners were intruding armies aiming to disempower, conquer, silence, and own the women they “love”?
Many women in physically, emotionally, and sexually violent relationships have felt the paralyzing fear of being robbed of the self, the voice, and the fire within. We may even blame ourselves for our partner’s actions, even though we know we have no control over what another person chooses to do. We may carry the weight of appeasing our partner, acquiescing to their demands or pressure at the expense of our own safety.
As we watch this video, I want to take the challenge given to men and extend it to women. I want to challenge women to believe that men can “not be rapists”, believe that men have the power to stop themselves, believe that men have the ability to respect, honor and celebrate women. Once we believe this about men, we may start believing we deserve this treatment ourselves. We may hold the men around us to not higher, but to human standards, and we may know in our cores that we have the right to never be raped, never be pressured, and never be owned. In fact, we have the right to be respected as equal individuals, worthy of dignity, safety, and celebration. These men are claiming this. Can we?
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