There were whispers exchanged between two older men with greying blonde and sandy-colored hair. They had noticed me out of the corner of their eyes and assumed that, since I was wearing my earphones, I wouldn’t be able to hear their conversation. What they didn’t know was that I pressed pause on my music app several minutes before and I had forgotten to turn it back on again. I wasn’t paying attention at first but, when they mentioned, Trump, I turned my attention to their conversation out of curiosity.
They were seemingly nice men wearing collared shirts tucked into their khakis. They sipped delicately crafted caffeinated drinks from Starbucks and smiled politely to the people passing by. However, the words that slipped subtly from their mouths were unintentionally unkind.
“I just don’t understand the Women’s March,” one of the men said in confusion. “More women in the economy have been employed under the Trump administration than any of the other Democratic administrations.”
“Yeah, I know,” the other one said. “And this ‘Me Too’ movement—my daughters know better than to get caught up with sketchy men.”
I cringed. They were blaming the victims of sexual assault instead of the abusers. They couldn’t comprehend the possibility of one of their young adult daughters instantaneously being kidnapped and raped or killed by someone they may or may not know on their own college campus in the middle of the day. They were lucky enough not to have their daughters tell them of a horrific encounter with a “sketchy guy,” but they may not even have been told by their daughters of a sexual assault out of fear or embarrassment.
According to RAINN, in the last reported year, 2013, every 98 seconds an American is sexually assaulted. Every eight minutes, that victim is a child. However, only 6 out of every 1,000 perpetrators will end up in prison.
When “one in four women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime” it’s safe to say that something needs to be done to change the trend and stop this. However, when ignorance is continuously praised for its bliss and no one is educated on how to help prevent sexual assault from happening, then it will only continue.
For the two men who assume their daughters are safe if they only remember to avoid sketchy men, I want to remind them that “in eight out of ten rape cases, the victim knows the perpetrator.” When they suggest that more women are employed in the current economy, I still want to remind them about the gender pay gap. Women still make 79 cents to every dollar a man makes, and the gap widens even further if you’re a woman of color. Black women earn 65 cents for every dollar and Hispanic women earn 55 cents.
What the women-led Women’s March aims to do is provide intersectional education on a diverse range of issues. They want to take action, and they want to start a conversation. The women at the march held signs supporting reproductive rights, racial and gender equality, LGBTQ rights, labor rights, and environmental protection. They peacefully sought only to uplift the marginalized minorities and provide a platform for them to become a part of the overall discussion.
They only hope that people are finally waking up to pay attention and listen.