A friend of mine recently posted an article on Facebook that immediately caught my attention: “How We Teach Our Kids That Women Are Liars” by Soraya Chemaly on RoleReboot.org
I’m constantly fascinated by the subtle ways that society sends messages and how negative messages about women are subconsciously sent out in mass media. The article summarizes the ways that women are portrayed as liars on television, in music, and on the news and gets into the religious groundwork and political ramifications of the cultural distrust of women (if you care to read the whole thing). But what really stopped me in my tracks were the statistics regarding people my age, college students, on the topic of rape on campuses.
The article states that “wide-scale evidence and multi-country studies…show the incidence of false rape reports to be in the 2%-8% range“, but that when college students were surveyed “they think up to 50% of their female peers lie when they accuse someone of rape”.
I am stunned.
My generation prides themselves on being the most progressive, most socially connected, and most forward thinking generation to date. But how can this possibly be true when we are not only ignoring our peers’ who come forward with experiences of rape, but are distrusting them literally half of the time? When we have a million ways to communicate and examine the lives of others has there really been no increase in empathy or understanding? Have our likes and hearts and favorites and follows all been for nothing?
This, unfortunately, runs parallel with other articles chronicling the distrust and silencing of women in the work place and the lack of support for and media coverage of feminist foreign policies. Feminism has gained a reputation for being a dirty word, but is it becoming a word that will be silenced forever?
For me, all of this only bolsters the importance of women’s stories in the arts, on social networks, and in mass media. We must continue to work against these foundational stories that foster the distrust of women and reveal that women are, in fact, whole people. Only when move away from these constructions of women as two-dimensional liars can we teach children to believe someone based on their character, not their gender.