I wrote this post a long time ago in response to the #lifeinleggings movement in the Caribbean. A few months ago, there was a Bell Let Talk Day in Canada where we acknowledged the need to break the silence and stigma around mental health. As the health of one’s mental state is often an outcome of how a person has dealt with traumatic experiences he/she has encountered in his/her life. I know that it will be controversial based on all that is happening politically with our neighbours in the south but here I go.
As a female immigrant from the Caribbean, I can recount the number of occasions where I had experienced unwanted encounters and advances from men that had left me in fear, anger, violated, and absolutely disappointed. This life in leggings movement has revealed that I wasn’t alone in feeling how I did. As read the experiences of other women which ranged from being stalked to sexually abused in their childhood, it was clear that when you have experienced trauma in your life it is hard to take what men might consider are awesome ‘compliments’ in a positive way. Sometimes these compliments do the exact opposite, they leave you feeling dirty, as if someone just violated your personal space without even touching you…..and all you can do is pray that this person doesn’t know where you live!
So here’s my call to action, for men (women too), but especially men because peer pressure can be a powerful tool when used influence good. Just hear me out, we women are someone’s daughter, aunt, mother, grandmother, etc. You too are someone’s son, brother, father, uncle, grandfather etc.
- We all have a role to play in addressing these experiences. Speaking up would help women to not fell alone when they face abuse. Yes, I call it abuse because when someone reduces you to nothing privately or publicly it is abuse.
- Men showing solidarity in words and actions with women in experience these unwanted scenarios would create a healthier balance to this situation. It is all about saying to yourself, ‘I don’t know her but I choose to respect her.’
- Speak up and compliment from a place of respect. To summarize, speak from a place of intellect not disrespect.
I hope that this conversation about #lifeinleggings continues. It truly broke the silence of speaking out about abuse or injustice against women and girls. It revealed years of untold trauma and bonded women to heal through sharing their experiences and knowing that they were not alone. My hope it that this is the beginning positive things to come.
In all, we must be the change that we wish to see in the world so we can all live in hope that it will all be better one day for the next generation to come.