Most girls are relentlessly told that we will be treated how we demand to be treated. If we want respect, we must respect ourselves.
This does three things. Firstly, it gets men off the hook for being held accountable for how they treat women. And secondly, it makes women feel that the mistreatment and sometimes outright violence they face due to their gender is primarily their fault. And thirdly, it positions women to be unable to speak out against sexism because we are made to believe any sexism we experience would not have happened if we had done something differently.
I cannot demand a man to respect me. No more than I can demand that anybody do anything. I can ask men to be nice to me. But chances are if I even have to ask he does not care to be nice. I can express displeasure when I’m not being respected. But that doesn’t solve the issue that I was disrespected in the first place.
I can choose to not deal with a man once he proves to be disrespectful and/or sexist. But even that does not solve the initial problem of the fact that I had to experience being disrespected in the first place.
As a young girl, I wish that instead of being told that I needed to demand respect from men that I had been told that when I am not respected by men that it’s his fault and not mine. But that would require that we quit having numerous arbitrary standards for what it means to be a “respectable” woman. It would mean that I am not judged as deserving violence based on how I speak, what I wear, what I do, and who I am.
Don’t tell thin women to eat a cheeseburger. Don’t tell fat women to put down the fork. Don’t tell underweight men to bulk up. Don’t tell women with facial hair to wax, don’t tell uncircumcised men they’re gross, don’t tell muscular women to go easy on the dead-lift, don’t tell dark-skinned women to bleach their vaginas, don’t tell black women to relax their hair, don’t tell flat-chested women to get breast implants, don’t tell ‘apple-shaped’ women what’s ‘flattering,’ don’t tell mothers to hide their stretch marks, and don’t tell people whose toes you don’t approve of not to wear flip-flops. And so on, etc, etc, in every iteration until the mountains crumble to the sea. Basically, just go ahead and CEASE telling other human beings what they ‘should’ and ‘shouldn’t’ do with their bodies unless a) you are their doctor, or b) SOMEBODY GODDAMN ASKED YOU.
If you think that a woman should not be able to have an abortion because “she knew that getting pregnant was a risk when she had sex”. I hope that if you ever contract an STD you are not allowed to get the medication to get rid of it because you knew there was a risk of getting one when you had sex.