Women, ladies, girls, femmes, it is time to speak up. Stop being “polite” at your own expense. Stop accepting sexual assault and behavior from men that makes you feel belittled or uncomfortable. I will describe two infuriating incidents this week that sparked this essay.
The first one was YK Osiris forcibly kissing Sukihana. I don’t have a clue who these people are but the video came up in my Instagram feed. This video disturbed me to my core, so watch with caution. Sukihana is visibly uncomfortable and tries to avoid his kiss but she still sits there and continues the interview, apparently. I don’t know what kind of relationship they have or how much force he used when he massaged her shoulders (maybe she was physically unable to get up) but this shouldn’t have happened. It’s sickening to me that no one intervened. As I watched, I really wanted her to use her voice to firmly tell him to stop or ask the people around her to help her. It’s been a few days now, he has apologized and she has accepted his apology. They’ve both deleted posts, etc. etc.
From my perspective, it seems like she didn’t want to be seen as the irrational one and protect her career while YK consciously or subconsciously took advantage of that. Sukihana said in a deleted Instagram post that she didn’t know how to stop him. Women and femmes are more likely to be raised to be people-pleasing and there are definitely times when safety is a factor in not speaking up. Some men have been conditioned to chase women even after they’ve said no. We live in a world where incels and “nice guys” (not saying YK is one) feel entitled to women’s bodies and become either violent or misogynistic when met with rejection.
The second incident this week was closer to home, or work, rather. I work at a food access nonprofit and we partner with other organizations that help us distribute food. A femme-presenting person who goes by they/them pronouns is quitting their job, one of the reasons is because a man who comes to the distribution is extremely disrespectful to women. The person who is quitting suggested that only men deal with this man. I was absolutely stunned when I heard this. If it were up to me, this man would have been banned after one warning. Him biting the hand that feeds him and being allowed to continue showing up each week is astonishing to me. We are not here to placate people and no one should have to feel uncomfortable at work. Women are more likely to be in nonprofit and care work and after learning this I wouldn’t be surprised if this happens elsewhere. But it shouldn’t be happening at all.
It is time to teach boys and men how to treat people with dignity and respect boundaries and everyone else needs to be holding them accountable. Screw being liked, speak the f**k up.