She was asking for it

Over the last month or so I’ve been involved in preparations for V-Day Bloomington (TVM) 2013. I’m extremely excited about it! We’re going to be preforming “The Vagina Monologues” on March 28th, 29th, and 30th (you can get more information here).  But this post isn’t so much a shameless plug for our event (but if you’re in the Twin Cities you should totally come!) as it is an observation about how the phrase “she was asking for it” follows women throughout their lives.

This phrase is almost always used as a way to justify violence against women and girls. The wheels in my head have been spinning regarding this phrase for the last week or so when I overheard a conversation where two adults were talking about bullying in schools. They were talking about a young woman who was a victim of bullying and one adult said, “Well, she’s been so mean to everyone that she was just asking for this to happen.”

As I thought about this statement I realized that this phrase really follows us through our entire lives.

It becomes attached to you as a young girl who is putting up a tough front so that she doesn’t get hurt. Why is she putting up this front? Maybe it’s because of rumors being spread about you; maybe it’s because you don’t have the right clothes or makeup; maybe it’s because your home life is extremely hard.

It follows you as you struggle for your own independence. Walking home from yoga one cloudy afternoon and you are harassed on the street because you’re wearing yoga pants. Or maybe you’re going out one night and this happens to you.

You go to the grocery store and find yourself being harassed because you’re not smiling.

Maybe then you meet a nice guy with a good career and you decide to get married. Then the phrase morphs a little bit to “It takes two to make a fight.”

I say that it’s time to make a stand! It’s time to think about the phrases we use, both their words and when we use them. Why are you using the phrase “she was asking for it”? I have to say, my hope is that we never use this phrase or any other like it to explain away violence.

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