Egg-pelting stag party should catalyse national conversation on feminism | Dawn Adrienne-Saliba

Feminists ask both men and women to understand the cumulative harm that such interactions can cause. And we ask everyone to actively speak out any time they come across such misogynistic behaviour and speech

August 11th’s revelation of a stripper being pelted with eggs at a bachelor party sent shockwaves through the nation. It personally gave me nightmares, and I am certainly not the only one who has been deeply affected by the report of this heinous act.

Something must be done, and I do hope that the legislative body makes it illegal for anyone to physically harm anyone else (whether or not they provided “consent”). However, I also believe that this incident should catalyse a national conversation about feminism.

First off, I want to express my deep sympathy to the victim of this abuse. The woman who accepted pay to be treated in such a manner deserves our sympathy—not our judgment, and we should respect her wishes to be left alone. She surely does not need to feel victimized a second time by all the media scrutiny.

But let’s talk about the men in this picture. The very fact that someone conceived of this activity – let alone executed it – is beyond belief. The fact that so many chose to participate in it is horrifying.

The individuals who organised this event need to be fully investigated.

According to The Times of Malta, a group of men arranged this incident, and it was not an isolated incident. That they have on several occasions purposefully subjected this woman (and possibly others, often alongside “soon-to-be grooms”) to physical danger and extreme humiliation, while taking advantage of their probable financial and psychological vulnerabilities is utterly reprehensible. It is a moral imperative that they be fully investigated and held accountable for their actions.

The saddest aspect, for me, is that a child participated in this event. The knowledge that this behaviour is being normalised – that boys, generation after generation, are being taught that it is okay, even fun, to dehumanize, degrade, and dominate women, even going so far as to act violently against us – defies comprehension.

I strongly believe that if feminism were a standard part of our everyday school curriculum and on-the-job training, such actions wouldn’t transpire in the first place.

When I mention to someone that I am a feminist, I am often met with a visceral, negative reaction. Many immediately respond that feminists are radical women who believe themselves to be superior to men and are working to undermine them.

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Feminists comprise of both women and men and we tirelessly advocate for the equal treatment of both genders. We are also particularly invested in preventing sexual and physical violence against women and utilise the philosophy of feminism to raise awareness.

We want everyone to understand that every time a woman suffers an unwanted grope from a man in the workplace (or from a relative, or from a stranger at the bus stop) –that is violence. That every time a woman is propositioned from a male supervisor (or lecturer, or religious leader) – that is violence. And that yes, every time a woman is forced (or coerced, or pressured) to have sex against her will, that is violence – but also that every time a male in a position of authority makes a comment or belittles or jokes about women’s bodies – that, too, is violence (as is denying her a position or promotion in favour of a less qualified individual).

Feminists ask both men and women to understand the cumulative harm that such interactions can cause. And we ask everyone to actively speak out any time they come across such misogynistic behaviour and speech.

It is only when both women and men cry out together for reform that positive change is possible. We need to embrace feminism.

What does that look like?

Well, first, it’s creating safe spaces (at home, at school, at work) for victims to share experiences. Taboos against speaking about violence, rape, assault, harassment, and other forms of abuse must be broken.

Women must also have adequate representation in legislative and judicial bodies, as well as law enforcement. (At the moment, only 14% of MPs are female, an abnormally low figure and one that cannot adequately advocate for the protection of women).

Feminism is also about encouraging men to be brave enough to stand up against inequality and to understand that they do not have to participate in a culture of toxic masculinity. They can decry their male colleagues when women are not treated equally in the workplace. They can support our cries for equality in pay and promotion. And they can also refuse to let their buddies at a bachelor party pelt a woman with eggs.

I hope, with all of my heart, that the woman who was engaged to the man who initiated this egg-pelting fiasco embraces feminism. I hope that she now understands that the violence this man enacted today could very well be transferred to her and her daughters tomorrow. She deserves a better life – and we deserve a better society.

It is only when both genders see each other as collaborative counterparts – in the home, in the legislature, in the workplace, on the stage – that a society can achieve full harmony and balance. It is only when women are protected against violence that our world can be healthy and safe. And so I ask you all: work towards treating women with dignity. Empower and protect your daughters and sons. Embrace positive masculinity. Embrace feminism.

And let justice be served.

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