Hedda Rosenberg (AC 08-10, Norway)
As I walked down the street in Llantwit, on a sunny Sunday at 4 pm, I passed a local pub and two middle-aged men. One of them took a step closer to me and asked “What’s the chance of me fucking you?” Instead of telling him that there was a minimal chance of that happening, I was too shocked to give any kind of snappy reply. I walked past in silence, scared and embarrassed and feeling quite small.
Now, why am I sharing this story? Because it frustrates me. Because I know that sexual harassment is not something that has only happened to me, but to most girls. Sexual harassment is this sudden unwanted attention of your body, whether it is a slap or a sleazy comment. And it is not ok. The feeling of no longer being in control of your own will and your own body is the worst. That someone should suddenly demand something of you, turn you into some kind of object is simply terrible.
In light of the recent celebrations of Women’s Day, I thought about this event. For a long time I have been contemplating all the feminist issues rushing through my head. What is it that I want instead of this treatment?
What I want is to be free. I want to be free from this kind of behaviour. We all want to be free I presume. Perhaps to you, freedom is capitalism, liberalism, communism or anarchy. Perhaps it is to run, to take a walk in a park or to eat chocolate. To me, feminism is freedom. It is the freedom to reach your own goals, whether you are male or female. It is the freedom to be yourself, and that your gender is not something you develop into. You are a woman or a man, because you are born one, not because you learn how to act like one. Feminism is also the freedom that your own sexuality has anything to do with your gender. Hetero or homosexual –it really should not matter. Feminism is to me all about escaping those strict limits society has on us. To be who you really are.
Feminism is, to me, freedom for more than just women. Naturally I would say it is freedom and equality for all. Reversed discrimination of men instead of women is causing a new problem instead of solving one. Personally I do not feel that we have come to the point where we need to say that feminism has gone too far. Women are treated inferior to men, in the world today whether it is not being able to be in control of their own livelihood, have a proper education or raped in times of war. It is simply not equal or fair.
And how are we meant to solve these problems? Personally I feel that Women’s Day is a good place to start. A women’s day that is not a second Mothers Day with flowers and chocolate, but a day for reflection and discussion. And that this should be a discussion where also men take part. For when do men benefit from seeing their mothers, sisters and daughters being discriminated? Freedom means freedom for all of us, equality for all of us. With that, let me congratulate all women of the college, we have come a far way. But the road ahead is long. I know what kind of society I want. And when it comes to what I want of myself, I want to be able to come up with a snappy reply.
– United World College Student Magazine