It's no secret to anyone that females have been disadvantaged from the get-go since time immemorial. Our female ancestors struggled to have their voices heard, to be able to communicate their desires and to be able to express their need for freedom. Contrary to their male counterparts, they were always on the losing end of the social conversation, so much so that the simple act of dressing themselves was considered taboo. Just like their attires were policed, so were their thoughts. Females who wouldn't fit the norm, were branded witches and burned at the stake. Females whose in-laws decided to discard them upon losing their husbands, were subjected to cruelty beyond our wildest imagination, in countries like India. To this day, women in Africa are denied their share of sexual pleasure, even though they're a crucial part of that very process. Their clitorises are mutilated and their sexuality-a biological instinct-is taken from them as they are seen as a mere appendage to male sexual pleasure.
In 2018, several movements emerged in developed countries to give women the platform they'd so long been clamoring for. A platform not to voice their repressed thoughts, but rather to disclose their personal tragedies. Like so many oppressed groups before them, women were only allowed to be heard when they'd become victims of sexual brutality, a brutality that was all too common in the past, but was considered part of the zeitgeist. The Nanking Massacre is an example of that. Sexuality was used as a weapon and women suffered in time of war, not because they were part of the war per se, but because they proved the easiest targets for men trained to see them as mere objects. To see the tides turn in 2018 and sexual brutality finally being broached in the mainstream conversation, is our much deserved sigh of relief.
But even now, we should never forget the struggle of our female ancestors. These women who were denied an education, denied the sheer joy of discovering their own individuality and consigned to domestic life, like a house pet, sacrificed their struggle for liberation for the sake of their families' stability. They were bereft of so many of the freedoms we take for granted-freedoms that we might lose should we let sexist invective rhetoric prevail in the media. In the US, Donald Trump's election showed us just how fleeting freedom can be. Centuries of struggle can be upended by mere rhetoric, and this isn't just an issue that affects only us women as a group, but most disadvantaged groups as well.
In the past, our female ancestors were hamstrung by the threat of ostracization but the victories of the second wave feminists ended that threat. These days, the only thing that poses a threat to our shared liberation is the lapidary power of rhetoric. Media outlets are used to painting every trivial incident with a broad brush, and with the advent of fake news media outlets, this poses a grave threat to how our struggles are perceived. News about sexual assault are stretched beyond proportion so that these very entities can cover every aspect of it for pecuniary gain. In the process, sexual assault news isn't relayed as such, but it's blown out of proportion to such an extent that in the end, the conversation centers around the male versus female conundrum and not the case itself.
In the past, sexual assault was rarely reported for obvious reasons. Females were only worthy insofar as their sexual purity was maintained and males were inured to criticism of any kind when it came to their sexual dominance. What changed in the past decades isn't just the significance of sexual assault, but also the rhetoric surrounding it. We now understand that violence, be it sexual or non-sexual, is the mark of a very base human being. When Presidents can openly brag about assaulting females and get away with such rhetoric with impunity, we ought to question just how easily the victories of our past can be stolen.
In that regard, we should learn from the tenacity of our female ancestors. How they devoted their lives of utter oppression to nurturing and never losing their patience, is heroic through and through. Women of this day and age don't have to devote their lives to such an endeavor but they have their part to play in eradicating the myriad prejudices that are being lobbed around in the media and on the web. Feminism and feminists are attacked daily, ridiculed just because they won't bow down to the Androcentric consensus. Women are portrayed as cunning and money-grabbing should they dare divulge their stories of sexual assault to the public. Fake News Outlets constantly bring female issues to the fore to belittle them and slowly rob us of our agency to CHOOSE.
In 2018, the conversation shouldn't just end with sexual assault as the main highlight of our struggle. It should present a warning, in the form of rhetoric, the language of a group that's been subjected to oppression and violence because of a biological difference. Our female ancestors survived because of their prolonged silence and passivity. We should use every platform we can to speak louder, until they can no longer hear us, until they can no longer debate about our issues without us at the table. Because we can, and we will.