Wednesday, September 24, 2014

It's On Us

Take the pledge

So, the following post is probably not going to seem germane to wrestling, but it's important for everyone to read or hear regardless. Even so, wrestling fans and the wrestling industry in general have problems in this area as well. But for the nearly eight billion people who live on planet Earth, roughly half of them live in constant fear, embedded in society, and even protected by some governments. Women on this planet have been abused and mistreated for as long as humanity has existed, and it has to stop. Furthermore, it's not on anyone else to stop this awful and dangerous treatment than the people who perpetrate these assaults.

Frankly, it's on us to stop it.

The statistics are staggering. According to Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN, an organization that Mick Foley heavily endorses and supports), someone is sexually assaulted every two minutes in the United States, and 97% of assailants will never spend a day in jail. Furthermore, 17.6% of all women will be the victims of rape or attempted rape in their lifetimes, and in 2003, 90% of all rape victims were women. One would think that the unwanted sexual assault would be treated like the severe threat it is, but in fact, the systemic excusing of male assailants and victim-shaming of women is embedded in even the most civilized of societies. Rape culture is real, and it's terrifying.

Even if men don't participate in a physical, sexual assault, they can perpetuate rape culture in ways that they may not even think they're doing. Telling rape jokes, shaming women for their dress while at the same time flocking towards hacked celebrity nudes, catcalling, the popularity of gross television characters like Glenn Quagmire, and the continued political push from the social right at limiting reproductive rights of women all contribute to this society of fear.

Even I have been guilty of perpetuating and participating in the rape culture in the past. In several instances when I was younger, before I met my now-wife, I had a problem being clingy towards girls I liked who didn't reciprocate. While what I was doing I thought to be innocent and all part of growing up, in reality, I was making these girls feel uncomfortable. I have never committed a sexual assault, and I never would have, but the point is that these women did not know that I wasn't going to force myself on them some day. I don't regret a lot of mistakes I've made in my past in other areas, but I wish I could go back and slap some sense into me. Furthermore, I am ashamed that it took me this long for my views to become something approaching healthy.

But even now, I am not perfect, and so I need to redouble my efforts into making sure I'm doing everything I can to prevent sexual assault and to reverse the rape culture. That is why I have pledged my support to the It's On Us campaign and will be doing everything I can to make sure that women feel safe everywhere they go.

While I am no longer in the partygoing/bar scene, I do go to events where women can feel marginalized and even threatened. Professional wrestling events not only have crowds filled with the kinds of people who can prove hostile or imposing towards women, but the companies themselves can promote unhealthy atmospheres. How can you help? It's easy, really. First, you need to view women fans not as pieces of meat or sexy cosplayers or "fake" fans who aren't as passionate as you about wrestling. You need to look at them as human beings. Second, you should react to a wrestling company, any wrestling company, that puts on a display that trivializes women for no other reason than because of their gender in a way that sends a message that it's not acceptable to portray. Third, any one of the steps you can take at a regular party or outing and apply them to a wrestling show.

You need to be the change you want to see in the world. I need to be the change I want to see in the world. Systemic abuse and overall poor treatment of women is not going to end by people doing nothing. It's on us to end sexual assault. It's on us to end the rape culture. It's on us to make sure that women are seen as human beings.