Sometimes it is accidental, sometimes it is on purpose, but either way you look at it we are constantly overhearing other people’s conversations.  Most of the time it is just benign conversations they are going to be eating, what they drunkenly did that weekend, or complaining about their classes.  Mostly they are harmless conversations, but sometimes the things that you hear leave a sick feeling in your stomach.  I know people have heard, “I don’t think she was raped, I mean she wore a skirt to his house.”  I know someone who said, “The best sex I’ve had has been less than consensual.”  And how many times have you overheard people talking about women as “sluts” or “bitches.”

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Every time I overhear these sorts of conversations I get queasy, I know that if the women who these conversations were about were to overhear them they would feel as if it was a second assault.  At the same time I know that if people were talking about me that way I would be heartbroken.  So, what do you do?  It’s not like you know these people who say these things and even if you did there is no guarantee that they would actually listen if you said something to them.

Well, I’ve found that sometimes a dirty look is enough to make them feel guilty about what they are saying, at least that’s what their expressions read.  Yet, I always wish that I had enough courage to actually say something of significance, reprimand them for speaking so degradingly about women.  To tell them that their actions and attitudes help establish the rape culture that our society has become embedded in.  However, I usually keep silent afraid of the possible consequences and the fact that if I did say something it would just be met with ridicule and ignored.

Now though I realize that by me letting these comments slip by I too am contributing to the rape culture.  If a person like me who is confident in their feminism and their sense of violence against women is too afraid to speak up how is anybody else supposed to do it?  I have been learning about violence against women for years and know the culture that it produces and yet, even with that knowledge I have been too afraid to stand up for my beliefs.  And now I am asking myself the question, if not me then who?

So, I’m making a pledge to myself and all those who have ever suffered from violence.  I promise to no longer be a bystander to speak up for what I believe in and to denounce instances of misogyny.  I will no longer let my fear of ridicule prevent me from being a champion for those who are unable to do it themselves because what I fear in that one moment is no comparison to what victims have actually had to go through.

So, loyal readers will you make this pledge with me?  Can we promise each other that we won’t stand idly by as those around us spew hatred and ignorance?  Because I know that the more that people refuse to accept such instances the more that it will become unacceptable and the closer we are to elimination.

6 thoughts on “Overheard

  1. Definitely. It’s one thing being able to articulate your thoughts here, but I find it way more difficult to speak out about anything like that in public because of the possible consequences. One of the most difficult things I’ve actually found is saying anything to your friends if they’re the ones you need to pull up.


    1. Thanks for reading! I actually find it too too difficult to talk to my friends about these issues, but it’s actually kind of turned into a joke. They will preface something like, “I know you’ll have an issue with this” or “Yeah, yeah, I know it’s sexist.” So, while they heard my message they haven’t yet really taken it into account and find the real problem.


  2. I have thought about this also and the if not me a confident educated woman doesn’t speak up then who question has definitely motivated me to stop being a bystander. I’ve gotten better with speaking up about sexist jokes I hear from acquaintances, but still working on it with strangers. I guess I know that acquaintances can’t just blatantly write me off, but strangers can. I need to get over that though, like you mentioned the uncomfortableness is far less than what the actual ramifications of these comments produce.


    1. Thanks for reading and commenting! I know exactly what you’re saying, it’s easy to be brushed off by a stranger. Yet, I like to put myself in their situation where if someone called me out for being sexist or racist or something and they proved that what I was saying was wrong and unjust I would feel really embarrassed and definitely think about what I said the next time. At least that’s what I hope others will think when I correct them.


  3. This is such an accurate post! I think a lot of it comes from being taught since children you don’t interrupt someone else’s conversation because it’s rude. And obviously, if I were talking about my grades and someone random put their two cents in, I would frown upon it. But this… I agree! something needs to be said, even if it pisses them off but they stop talking about it. It has helped. Great post


    1. Thanks! I think you bring up a valid point where we are taught not to interrupt someone else’s conversation. I also think that mentality can easily tie into the mindset where women are taught to be submissive and not barge into another conversation especially one that could turn out to be somewhat unpleasant.


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