Women matter.

I was at a rock concert last week and a stranger felt me up. I froze for several seconds–couldn’t breathe, couldn’t move as those hands moved up and down my waist. Finally, I found the courage to elbow the person in the stomach. Then, I went to the bathroom and cried and ended up missing half of The Darkness singing “Love on the Rocks with No Ice.”

But a week later, I can still feel those hands. Every time I sit down to write. Every time I look in the mirror. Every time I have a positive thought about myself.

I can feel them, and I can hear them. They whisper, “You don’t matter. You’re just an object that I wanted to touch and so I did. You exist for my pleasure. You don’t matter.”

Then, I saw the new PETA ads. You know, the “My boyfriend went vegan and couldn’t control his own strength during sex so he bruised me and put me in a neck brace” ads.

And when I feel those hands, I also see the image of that woman walking down the road in her neck brace, as she gives the excuses that sounded a lot like what I heard coming out of my own mouth many times when I was in an abusive relationship. And I hear PETA whispering, “You don’t matter. Animals are people, but women are not. You don’t matter.”

And, do I even need to bring up Issa’s committee regarding the birth control mandate, at which no women were allowed to testify? It’s not even a whisper but a yell. “You don’t matter. Not when it comes to politics. Not when it comes to religion. Not even when it comes to your own health. You don’t matter.”

The world is telling us this every day, women. In the way it represents us, in the way it treats us, and in the way it speaks to us. The world is saying, “You don’t matter.”

Are we listening?

Do we believe it?

I know sometimes it’s difficult not to internalize the messages that we receive everyday.

We’re touched inappropriately or whistled at as we walk down the street, and we push aside feelings of discomfort and tell ourselves, “I’m overreacting. I can’t get upset–I mean, I should expect this going to a rock concert/the club/this part of town. I shouldn’t have worn this outfit. I must have done something to provoke this.”

And what we’re really telling ourselves is, “I don’t matter.”

We see a battered woman on television being used to sell products or ideas and we doubt those feelings of anger that rightly well up inside of us. We try to make excuses like, “It was a joke, right? Besides, the commercial wasn’t portraying abuse. The boyfriend just didn’t know his own strength. The company/organization was just trying to make a point.”

And what these doubts amount to is really, “Do I matter?”

Then, we see political policies that directly affect us women being discussed by men, and men only. We see religious decisions that directly affect the women of the church being made by men. And often, we don’t blink an eye because we’ve been told so often that we don’t matter, that we almost accept that it’s a man’s world.

Because the world is telling us we don’t matter.

It’s telling us everywhere we turn.

It’s yelling at us from cars as we walk down the streets. It’s hitting us over the head with these messages in movies and commercials and sitcoms. It’s preaching it at us from the pulpits and political campaigns.

But we don’t have to listen.

"Thank you for this article! I think you're right. one must have a lot of ..."

Veiled Muslim women and revolutionary modesty
"MyGod, you are a vain , obstinate asshole, Jarred."

A little more on the “selfish ..."
"Scripture says both are to be servants to one another. And I do think both ..."

“You Are Not Your Own:” Only ..."
"This is breaking news? but its too old right?"

“You Are Not Your Own:” When ..."

Browse Our Archives

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Beautiful!

  • Thank you for this powerful reminder, Sarah.

  • Love this!

  • Women matter. If it counts for anything coming from a man, know that you matter deeply. The four most significant people in my life are all women – my wife, my daughter, my sister, and my best friend. I am largely the man I am today because of these four amazing women. The largest single influence on my spiritual life as an adult? Madeleine L’Engle. The person whose book brought me out of a very dark spiritual place a few years ago? Rachel Held Evans. I don’t say this to kiss up to women, and there are and have been remarkable and wonderful men in my life as well. But all I want to say here is I can’t imagine my life without the role – personally, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, and yes, physically – that women have played and do play in it. You matter. More than you know.

  • Powerful post, Sarah. It’s raw and I feel like crying.

    this is part of the reason why I love Jesus so so much. (I know it sounds lame to type out but I can’t figure out how else to say it.) I love how he loved women. Jesus gave me the legs for feminism and in a world that DOES say we don’t matter, he stands in such stark contrast.

    • People ask me a lot why I’m a Christian when Christians treat women so badly. It’s because Jesus was so great and empowering to us! I can’t help but love him!

  • Daniel

    Women do matter and I can tell you in the church, at least, this is becoming a very serious issue, one I think is starting to change for the better (slowly though). For myself, I was asked to fill out in an application and answer questions about my thoughts of women in minister or as deacons. I can back up those thoughts but I know, even as a male, that having those opinions and views likely cost me some jobs. but if men are the ones in power, then who will they listen to? is it all the women already speaking out? I think it is my duty and privilege to stand up for my sisters in my faith and sisters in humanity, to give my opinion that we should all have equal voice in society and in life. I am single now, but I don’t want to date or marry a woman who does not have her own mind, thoughts, and opinion. I want a co-mpanion. I want a friend. I desire a reciprocal relationship.

    Thanks for sharing this story and these thoughts, they are so raw and vulnerable… must have been difficult to write and go through all over again. You are not an object. Women are not objects.

  • Sarah, I too feel angered and upset at hearing you were felt up. We are taught throughout the Bible (the first instance is in Genesis 1) that we are made in God’s image– and in treating you this way, this “other person” violated something sacred.

  • Chris

    I don’t even know how I got to this website but your post has undone me. I was groped on a train over twenty years ago and have never spoken about it. Those hands and that terror are so real to this day I feel them right now. Thank you for your brutal honesty — it mattered to me, a woman, today.