This has been a hot topic for a while now, but has been seen more prevalently since the #MeToo movement.
I feel an increasingly rising anger every time I see a conversation around sexism, sexual assault or rape, in which somebody – usually a man – uses the phrase ‘she is somebody’s daughter/mum/sister/partner’ or any other relationship that a woman might have with a man. This might seem innocent and a way to humanise those at the receiving end of this behaviour, but it is far more complex than that. It is about reducing women to their relationships with men. It’s about suggesting that this behaviour was acceptable until we realised women are human beings. It’s about not hearing or appreciating the impact of these experiences until we understand that women are people as a result of their male connections.
Why do our stories only become valid when we are no longer thought of as individuals, but as part of a wider network of men? Why are we not just heard when we tell our stories the first, second and tenth time?
Most importantly, why do men who make these comments only reflect on their own behaviour when they remember that the women in their lives are human beings, who will undoubtedly have been victims of sexism to varying degrees? It’s not about how these experiences could and will affect the women in their lives that they are connected to. It’s about how these experiences affect women. The sentence should stop there.
I don’t want my experiences to be invalid unless I am thought of through my connection to a man. I don’t want my very being to be diminished to my male relationships.
So next time you think about saying this, I implore you to remember: she might be someone’s daughter or someone’s wife or someone’s mother, but none of those relationships define her.
She is someone.