In the Lands of Misogyny, I Believe Female Survivors

Saturday 31 July 202110:34 am
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In the past, a girl named Dora (pseudonym) went to the famous psychiatrist Sigmund Freud, to accuse her father’s friend, Mr. K, of molesting her. Freud accused her of hysteria — a mental illness that was apparently ‘exclusive’ to women at the time — and of wanting to be in the place of his wife; Mrs. K. The response and attitude that Freud took up a hundred years ago is still happening to this day. As soon as a woman speaks out to accuse a man of harassment, especially following the “Me Too” movement, she is accused of lying, and is asked: Why now? Why didn’t you report the incident earlier? This prompted some women’s movements to raise the slogan “We Believe Survivors”.

The truth is, you will not find a girl that hasn’t been sexually harassed at least once in her life, whether it was during her childhood, or from her boss, or even from members of her own family. Women are afraid of speaking up because people do not usually believe them. And in many cases, they blame themselves, thinking that the incident was their fault and happened because of them. They continue to carry this painful memory within themselves and are reminded by it in every other story they read, or hear about. When I read about this campaign on Facebook, I remembered an incident that happened to me when I was suffering from a stomach ulcer. I went to an internist (doctor of internal medicine), and he sexually harassed me. He felt up my entire body. I couldn’t believe myself at the time. I left and didn’t tell anyone. I also remember being beaten by my ex-partner, my face being swollen, and not being able to eat for a week. I didn’t tell anyone, not even my mom. It took me a whole eight years to reveal it to my psychiatrist. It was because of the state of denial I was in, because I didn’t want to believe, and because I didn’t want people to pity me, for I was used to appearing to the world as a strong woman. I also remember the intellectual in his fifties who started talking to me about writing and poetry, then about my body, and then invited me to go with him to a hotel. He was forcibly pulling my hand to go with him, being very pushy with the utmost urgency. Miraculously, I was able to “get out” of it. I decided then and there to never contact any writer whose writing I liked in the future, taking the famous advice: “Do not add your favorite writer on Facebook”. This is why I believe the ones who come out into the public to accuse someone of sexual harassment or assault, because I know that speaking out is difficult — very difficult — especially in a society that calls the victim a liar and blames them.

I went to a doctor, and he sexually assaulted me. He felt my entire body. At the time, I couldn’t believe what happened. I walked out, and didn’t tell anyone

The bereaved victim is not like the hired victim. And of course the slogan “We Believe Survivors” will not satisfy or please men, as it has been met with mockery by many, with pages popping up saying that they are against “feminazi (feminist terrorism)”. Many of them felt threatened, “What if a woman falsely accused me?” But they do not know the psychological and mental cost of a young woman coming out into the open to talk about an instance of sexual harassment she went through, to talk about her trauma, and talk about the psychological harm and distress she was subjected to, knowing full well that she will not be believed without any evidence, or because she reported it too late. 

Even men who stand up to harassers ask feminists to tone down their ‘fierce’ language, or ask them to reject the slogan “We Support Survivors”, telling them to support women only with the presence of evidence. But the problem is that most cases of harassment remain without any proof or evidence. It is conditional support, like supporting the resistance, provided that it does not fire missiles at Israel. I know that the support of most men will often be conditional, and will not last forever. It is because, at some point, a man will feel threatened by feminism. He only wants soft feminism, not fierce and hard feminism. If you really claim to truly support women, and feminism, do not impose your conditions on them. Make way for them to pass through, express themselves, talk, and be heard. For many centuries, it was man who spoke, who made laws, even the ones that governed women’s bodies. So why don’t you just be quiet for a little and let the woman speak?

Are women faultless and infallible? Would a young woman never falsely accuse a man? The short answer is no. But what is the percentage of these ladies compared to the percentage of male harassers? What women want is an outlet, a space to express and complain. As for the conditional support of men, it won’t do them much good. Women do not want you to believe, they want you to let them talk about the psychological trauma they carried for years, about the fear that takes hold of them as they walk at night, and about the pain that fills their bodies from the harassment of friends and strangers. Women have always been accused of exaggeration and madness, so now just let them speak.

He only wants soft feminism, not fierce and hard feminism. If you really claim to truly support women, and feminism, do not impose your conditions on them

I believe female survivors because I am a woman who was raised to be afraid of my own body, and therefore, of riding the taxi at night, with my hand always on the handle, and because I have been sexually harassed just like all women, and because my body bore the absurdities of strangers and friends, and because I had been silent for years, with pain suffocating me. I remember when I was sexually harassed before President Morsi took office. The harasser shouted at me on the street: “Morsi will get you”. Then he cursed me for no reason. I was afraid that the men would gather against us. But the situation today has not changed much. In an incident like the “Bassant” incident — named after the young woman who was subjected to mass sexual harassment by a group of men in Mit Ghamr — the incident was captured on video, and the harassers were cleared of all charges. I believe the survivors because I know how hard it is to track down a harasser and go to the police station. I could be blamed for the way I dress. I believe female survivors because this country hates women, and judges them and holds them accountable for their mere existence, and this campaign is from women and for women, and we do not want the conditional support of men.

*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Raseef22

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