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The 97%

by Madison Rheam about a year ago in activism
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If you have Tik Tok or you have any sort of social media I'm sure you've seen somewhere the 97%. Well, what is the 97% anyway? This number represents the percentage of women age 18-24 that have been a victim of sexual assault and/or harassment. Let that sink in. I'm sure many of you reading this are in that age bracket and if not, I know all of you know a woman between the ages of 18-24. Guarantee she is in the 97%. I know I am and I know that almost every woman I know is a part of it.

This concept of the 97% became aware largely because of the disappearance and murder of Sarah Everard. Sarah went missing on March 3, 2021 when she left her friend's house at 9:30pm to walk home. Needless to say that she never made it home that night. On March 12 human remains were found and later identified as Sarah's. After the media caught word of what happened to Sarah, women everywhere connected to her story and the hashtag #TextMeWhenYouGetHome began popping up everywhere. Now there are Tik Toks all over of women sharing their stories of when they became a part of the 97% and examples of the things we as women have to deal with and think about everyday when being alone.

Sarah Everard

So what is behind the meaning of #TextMeWhenYouGetHome? This has to do with the long checklist women have in their head before leaving anywhere alone or even in a group. It has to do with the many precautions women have to take everyday just to leave the comfort of their home, and even the precautions they have to take in the comfort of their home. The deepest connection women hold in this hashtag is the same fear we all carry everyday when we wake up. We share our live locations with our friends and family at all times, just in case. We carry our keys laced between our fingers when we walk to our cars, whether it's day or night, just in case. We have fake phone calls memorized in our heads, ready to recite like a play, just in case. We accomodate our plans to leave while it's still light outside, just in case. We change our walks home to only well-lit streets and sidewalks, even if it's a longer walk, just in case. We know not to drink too much, just in case. We know to never drink something we left, even for ten seconds, just in case. And we've all told our friends to "text me when you get home." Men and women live different lives in this way. By no means am I saying that men do not get sexually assaulted, but I am saying that men do not think these things when they leave their home everyday. Women carry these thoughts on their shoulders every second of everyday just to survive. We shouldn't have to live like this. I don't want to have to teach my daughter everything I just mentioned, but I know that I will have to.

Now lets dive a little deeper. Lets talk about the women in the 97% and how some people (men particularly because they'd be the ones committing it most of the time) don't want to count some things as sexual harassment and/or assault when they clearly are. Public nudity or indecent exposure is against the law and punishable by jail time. Receiving unsolicited "d*ck pics" is considered a form of sexual harassment. Being made to feel uncomfortable or begged to send nude pictures is a form of sexual harassment. Being catcalled is not a compliment and is not considered you being flirty, it is sexual harassment. Objectifying women and/or saying inappropriate comments about their body is sexual harassment. This includes but is not limited to referring to how revealing your clothes are, how tight your pants are, making sexual jokes in reference to you or asking inappropriate sexual questions.

After these tik toks and posts took over social media people began counter arguments and hashtags such as, #WhatWasSheWearing and #NotAllMen. I honestly thought the concept of "what were they wearing" was proven as an incorrect question awhile ago because anyone that asks that is an idiot. In 2018 in Ireland during a rape trial a lawyer used that the woman was wearing a thong against her in court. She was a 17-year-old wearing a black lace thong and her 27-year-old rapist was acquitted after her underwear was used against her. Protests broke out everywhere in Ireland and the hashtag #ThisIsNotConsent popped up all over social media. The entire concept of this hashtag was to prove to people that should already know that what you're wearing does not justify any form of sexual harassment and/or assault. However, if you are still too dense to see that point, may I point out the fact that children are wearing pajamas when they're assaulted. Women are wearing sweatpants and sweatshirts when they're raped. Is my point made yet? The #NotAllMen makes me extremely frustrated because when women decide to stand up about everyday misogny and the literal fear we all deal with everyday men created their own hashtag to make sure they weren't left out. The spotlight was once on women and women's rights but heaven forbid men's feelings get hurt. I saw a tik tok by "@unpocozach" that said, "if it's 'not all men'... why do you still swim away from sharks if not all sharks attack?" I think this is honestly the best way to put it to make people understand why #NotAllMen is simply not a valid hashtag.

What I was wearing exhibit

What I was wearing exhibit


About the author

Madison Rheam

HACC graduate with Associates Degree in Social Sciences, LGBTQ+, raging liberal, feminist.

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