WhyNot

Unfiltered Thoughts: #breakthebias

In the lead up to International Women’s Day 2022 we asked our WhyNot community for their Unfiltered Thoughts on what this year’s theme #breakthebias means to them.

Women Kill, but Women Are Also Killed

In Australia:

– 1 woman a week is killed by an intimate partner [1]

– 10 women a day are hospitalised for assault injuries [2]

Yet – when we discuss domestic violence against women, the conversation almost always gets derailed by people bringing up “what about men” and “men are victims too!” The shift then moves to men being the focus. There is an undeniable pattern of whataboutism that negates and invalidates the pandemic that is violence against women.

Men are indeed also victims, both by male and female perpetrators. This is undeniable and is an issue on its own, but it is imperative that we also understand the dichotomy in gender when we view the statistics.

Breaking the bias means having conversations that prioritises the overwhelming gender that is disproportionately affected by violence: Women.

Breaking the bias means recognising that men are not being killed at the same rate women are by partners, which subsequently leads to action and implementation of better protections and resources for victims.

References:
[1] Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS). 2018. Violence against women: Accurate use of key statistics (ANROWS Insights 05/2018). Sydney, NSW: ANROWS.
[2] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2019. Family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia: Continuing the national story (Cat. no FDV 3). Canberra, ACT: AIHW. In 2016-2017, 3600 women hospitalised for assault injuries identified a spouse or domestic partner as the perpetrator.

Gina, 26 VIC

 

Include trans-women, always. 

Breaking the bias means to stop questioning whether trans-women are women. The answer is they are. Always. Trans-women have a unique experience of womanhood; they experience the inequities of being a woman in a patriarchal system just as much as cis-women, with the added pressure of transphobia on top. The patriarchy needs to be dismantled. And trans-women need to be there on the frontlines, tearing down the walls that keep women under its oppressive hold.

It also means that we need to stop assuming AFAB non-binary people identify as women. Non-binary people who are assigned female at birth may have an identity partially rooted in womanhood – for me, it’s the gender people assume I am, and the biases against women that come with that are placed on me. However, not all non-binary people identify as women, and not all non-binary people want to be included in every conversation about women, especially if it isn’t part of their identity.

When you’re talking about International Women’s Day, it’s ok to just talk about women – you don’t have to stop being specific because you think you’re being inclusive. Include trans-women, always, and make it clear that non-binary people who identify with womanhood are welcome and their experiences are respected. Just make sure you aren’t forcing non-binary people into an identity they don’t belong to.

Rhegan, 21 WA

 

New Generation of Bias

Gender inequality and prejudice is unfortunately experienced by the majority of our society and we, WE, need to help minimise and ambitiously eliminate it. This gender bias, especially towards women, is unfair. Whether it’s how we’re treated in the workplace, in romantic relationships or in sport, together like the generations before us we need to stand up for our human rights!!

Phoebe, 18 NSW

 

The Bitch Bias

Breaking the bias means tearing down the walls that keep women out of leadership positions.

Through life, we might all be taught the same traits of a leader: authoritative, confident, creative, risk-taking, focused, etc. But systemic biases against women mean that when she exercises these leadership traits, when she’s assertive or decisive – she’s a bitch.

When a man is assertive, he isn’t called anything. He’s just being a leader. So, over the years women have been in the workforce, the biases we’ve placed on women have made career growth impossible. And instead of addressing the systemic barriers that women face, we launch cookie-cutter mentoring programs that teach the same shit as all the others, but continuously decline to tell people (including men) how to break down the deep-rooted misogynistic barriers that, through no fault of their own, hinder women’s progression. Yes, of course, women who engage in some of these mentorship programs can and do benefit from the advice, knowledge, and experience, but unless the work has been done at a systemic level, women will just keep hitting the same walls that have always been there.

It is not that women need to change; it is that society does.

Claire, 21 WA

 

It means me too

To me breaking the bias, means holding myself accountable and being critical when I am talking with people about topics of equality, the importance of equality being inclusive of everybody. It means having those conversations which may be difficult to help others see how it feels not being treated as an equal based on my own gender. It means continually educating myself about ways that I can ensure I am treating others as equals.

Breaking the bias also means investing and supporting the futures of people who are systemically disadvantaged, whether this be signing petitions, donating and buying from equitable causes and amplifying the voices through resharing/reposting on social platforms and to friends and family.

Madieson, 23 WA

 

Stopping the Bias means Global Social Change

Stopping the bias means having an equitable chance. To be able to freely and unapologetically be one’s true self, without experiencing direct or indirect external prejudice. Bias is a universal occurrence. However, through education, a change in social construct can transpire and eradicate partiality.

As a person, I know that I have the ability and right to exist, achieve, have desires, work, show emotions, create, be expressive, access help, be a leader, embrace femininity and masculinity, have social interaction, seek isolation, celebrate who I am, learn, choose what happens to my body, express culture, build meaningful relationships and have self-growth. As a young woman, advocating for women, we should always have the capacity and the environment to do everything listed above freely.

Although this world has progressed in many sociological ways, it is undeniably disappointing to still witness patriarchal values dictating the ways in which humans live. Breaking the bias would be to remove this societal construct and to build a society on human acceptance. Accepting without conditions. Accepting with kindness. Accepting self.

Isobelle, 24 WA

 

The world fears ‘bossy’ women

I was called ‘bossy’ as a child.

It was because I knew what I did and didn’t like.

What I thought was wrong, and what I thought was right.

I wasn’t afraid to speak up about it.

But boys were called brave and strong for doing the exact same things that I was.

I asked questions.

I stood up for myself.

But I was never a ‘leader’ like the boys were.

I was ‘bossy.’

In high school my principal asked me what I’d do when I finished school.

I said I was going to be a journalist.

She rolled her eyes and said ‘that’d be right.’

It was because I had questioned her.

On sexist dress code.

On inappropriate teachers.

On outdated culture.

She saw a women that spoke up as a threat.

And though I was angry,

I realised she was right.

She was scared because of the power a ‘bossy’ woman has.

Her mistake was trying to squash it, when we must cultivate it.

It is why we must teach all of our girls to be bossy.

The world fears ‘bossy’ women,

And that is a very powerful thing.

 Megan, 21 TAS

 

“There’s zero consequences for these men.”

I recently binged all nine episodes of “Inventing Anna”. (Side Note: absolutely worth the binge!)

What started off as an innocent activity to switch off my brain, ended with me re-examining every mistake I’ve made in the last decade. More specifically, the mistakes I made that could be juxtaposed to those of my male colleagues or worse, when my male colleagues happened to be my partner in crime (so to speak).

Now, I’m not naïve. I understand that television is fiction. This particular show even provides a subtle reminder at the beginning of every episode: “This whole story is completely true, except for all the parts that are totally made up.”

Yet when our leading lady points out “there’s zero consequences for these men” – I can’t help but think this part is true.  

I have made mistakes. I own them. I revel in them. They have helped me become a better human both professionally and personally. Some have had consequences.

I’ve been benched from projects because I didn’t have the ‘right’ attitude. Cut out of conversations because I spoke my mind without ‘sensitivity’. Missed job opportunities because I got ‘greedy’ and asked for more.

For every mistake that had consequences I can provide examples of how my male counterparts – under the same manager – made the same mistake and got rewarded.

I’m not going to frustrate you with details. But I will tell you this: the only mistake I actually regret is not speaking up, not asking questions, not using my voice.

Lauren, 29 QLD 

 

My body is my voice

An artist friend of mine recently reached out to her followers to share their stories of sexual assault for an exhibition she is organising to elevate the voices of survivors. It triggered a memory for me that I thought was buried in the deep recesses of my bones. But my body remembered. My heart began to race and sweat built up at the back of my neck. I felt nauseated as I scrolled through the questions. Still, I needed to answer. I know others have been through worse. My story involves somebody who I thought was my friend force himself on me, even though I continuously pushed him away. We were at a friend’s house and I didn’t want to make a scene and ruin the night. So I gave in. I never thought of it as sexual assault because it involved his hands and not his dick. My body said otherwise. My body still says otherwise.

Angelica , 26 SA

 

Illustration by AileenYou can find more of her work on Instagram @aileenetc

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