January 23, 2018
The concept of transitioning into an adult, while still having a youthful soul is a scary thought. How can a girl share her creativity in a world that judges and criticizes too much? How can a girl be creative when gender barriers still exists… and for some reason, a boy’s creativity will always prevail over hers? How can a girl be strong enough to voice her truth, when no one seems to care… when no one seems to believe… when no one seems to take a stand. How can a girl be strong enough to conquer all forms of oppressions? How can a girl finally transition into a woman with passion, strength, and ability to empower others with her beautiful mind and heart?
When I was a kid, I had a strong fascination with balloons. This is my homage to the inner child in me – the child who had always believed in the good. The child whose innocence was not tainted by the sad reality that life is difficult – especially if you’re a girl.
Now, I can start this post by discussing the gender wage gap existing in the workforce, or by criticizing the likes of Harvey Weinstein or Donald Trump. I can tell you how much it pains me to know that male privilege exists in our society… how most of the top CEO’s are men, how the glass ceiling exists to target the female population, and how the opportunities for women to grow their careers are not as significant as it is for men. But instead, I want to narrow the vast oppression of women into one specific area: sexual harassment.
I want to tell you how much I hate seeing women’s talents being ignored unless they’re ready to bare it their all. To be notice by a crowd, a woman not only has to showcase her abilities and talents, she must also be compliant to male orders and directions. A woman with a talent is nothing if she is not ready to bare herself to a man with authority…. to allow herself to be taken sexually… to be harassed in order to reach her dreams. This is the reality that tainted my innocence and pushed me to stand with the women who demands for equality and truth.
When I was kid, someone once told me to, “marry young and obey your husband”. We brought up our girls to understand that women must be willing to cater to their husband’s needs, and we raised our girls to become “stay at home moms”. We had gone through generations of male dominance and male leadership, without ever questioning their “male” position as a female. Old traditions of teaching young girls to cook, sew, clean, and look beautiful for a man who’ll take care of her financially is outdated. Our society is partially to blame for ignoring all the voices of women who wanted more… for ignoring women who wanted to tell the truth… and for shutting down any woman who wanted to protest against the dominant male figure.
BUT THIS AWFUL REALITY ENDS TODAY.
In university, I took a Women’s Studies class that had opened my eyes to the vast inequalities that women face compared to men. Women’s Studies made me understand that being a girl is really, really, really fucking hard. We have to work so much harder to get a job, to be creative, to excel in sports, to be noticed solely with our minds and not our bodies, and to be treated as equals of men. Women are more susceptible to domestic violence, sexual assault, harassment, and negative stigmas. Women role models in politics, sports, business, and religion are not as dominant as male role models. Men seem to have the better road in life… while we are forced to climb the highest mountain peaks, in order to reach what most men can easily attain. IT’S REALLY NOT FAIR.
Sexual harassment is a term that I didn’t associate myself with before, and that is because of fear. I too, am guilty of being uncomfortable with the topic. I too, was oblivious with the topic. I used to be the person who would much rather talk about the latest Instagram trends than to talk about sexual harassment. Now that I think about it, I should had discussed the issue more when I could have… I should had done it for the sake of the next female generations to come.
What do I mean?
Well, I’ve never been sexually harassed before, but I know people who had been. At the time, their stories didn’t make me ache like it aches me now. Their stories didn’t touch me as deep, because I was uncomfortable and had very little knowledge about the topic. After taking a semester of Women’s Studies class, I can now confidently express my opinions about sexual harassment. That class broke my comfort levels and made me realize that if I keep being quiet about all the sexual harassments existing around me… if I choose to be quiet and not spread the voices of women needing to be heard… If I choose to do NOTHING… then I too, am failing at being a woman.
We need to listen to the women who had been hurt. We need to support them and let them understand that we are here for them… fighting with them… and we are here because we want the next generations to understand that they are safe. The next generation of girls needs to be raised knowing what their rights are, and knowing that their rights are protected. The next generation of girls needs to understand that their bodies are not a sexualized item. The next generation of girls deserve to feel like their voices, opinions, and ideas matter. We MUST obliterate sexual harassment now, for the sake of all our future daughters, and their daughters.
Ideally, we must fight against the men who feel entitled to harassing women and placing our bodies in a sexualized manner – we must defend our rights as women to be treated as equals of men. Ideally, the word “sexual harassment” should be an issue most boys get educated about in order for them to treat their future girlfriends and wives with the utmost respect. Most importantly, we must educate our boys about sexual harassment NOW, in order to protect the girls of tomorrow, and to give justice for the women who had suffered sexual harassment or assault.
SEXUAL HARASSMENT – It is real. It is affecting women’s lives. It is an issue we must address.
As a creative individual/blogger, I feel safe knowing that I have a platform that doesn’t need me to succumb to any male input. I have the control over my blog, thus I have the ability and freedom to release whatever creativity, content, stories, posts, or pictures I want to share. IF my freedom as a blogger was ever taken away from me, that would honestly shatter my spirit and destroy any of my desires to keep on writing… I can only imagine what it must had felt like for those creative women to be oppressed by men. That’s like me losing my blog… that’s like me losing my voice.
Creativity stems dreams.
We all have creativity inside us. We all have dreams. The reason why I stand with the #MeToo movement (movement against sexual assault and harassment) is because of the undignified individuals who are threatening the dreamers from dreaming… thus threatening the dreamer’s creativity and ideas. If we keep on being silent about sexual harassment, how many more girls will have dreams of making it big only to find out that she must take her clothes off first in order to make it BIG… How many more innocent dreamers will we wake up in the nightmare of being raped, just because they really wanted that job they worked so hard to attain… How many more creative thinkers are we going to kill just because their ideas threatened ours… How many more creative minds are we going to ignore just because we’re scared to listen… HOW MANY MORE?
The #MeToo movement inspired this post. I wanted to share with you all my take and my voice against sexual harassment. The photoshoot in which I had the beautiful honour shooting with Jason May, is my abstract view of childhood and adulthood. In the photos below, I symbolize the adult and the balloons represents the little girl I used to be. As a woman, I STILL CARRY THE VOICE OF MY YOUNGER SELF. My younger self was pure and innocent… the little girl in me always believed in the good… and I still believe in that light, which is the goodness triumphing over the bad. As an adult, I will now carry on my younger self’s vision and pass on that light to the next generation… essentially, I’m passing on these balloons to you. I hope that you stand in the light of the good.
Dear Readers, this is the time wherein we really need to listen and to be more accepting. To the men who are standing with us and listening, I applaud you so much. To the women who are voicing their stories to the public, I hope you keep on talking because you have an audience at your feet. To the younger kids who are scared to be creative and to dream… keep on dreaming, someday your dreams will become a reality.
Mary Dezleigh Teodosio.