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Older women are missing the point when they say millennials need to 'toughen up' in the face of sexual abuse

It takes a certain type of woman to come out during what can only be seen as a revolutionary time for women's rights and complain. But that is exactly what a number of older, prominent female figures have done since the sex scandal broke at Westminster and it leaves me puzzling, in the most colloquial of terms, 'whose side are they actually on'?

The pervasive idea amongst the women I refer to is that what is going on in the House of Commons as we speak is nothing but a moral panic led by the millennials. They claim that it all comes down to the younger women, who make up much of the MP's staff, not being tough enough to fend off the comments and misplaced hands of their bosses.

They further claim this is some kind of 'millennial revenge' by younger women who carry around with them a sense of disgust towards anyone over 40. Furthermore, they say, women of their generation had a far more robust attitude to men behaving badly, compared to the 'fragile' women of today who have simply lost their sense of humour.

There are so many things wrong with these comments where do I start? It is certainly relevant that the women spear-heading these remarks are mature, experienced and evidently battle scarred women who feel that they have weathered the storm and believe the younger generations are somehow falling short if they do not do the same.

It is fine to say that women should toughen up and defend themselves against the men who harass them if that were at all helpful advice in the majority of situations. It is not always the case that a young woman, however tough she may be in everyday life, can tell a man to do a run and jump if he touches her knee.

Not if this man is her employer and holds the key to her future career success. We saw the same story with Weinstein - so many up and coming actresses feeling they could not speak out because their careers would then be over.

Then there are the soul-destroying stories which are coming out from the likes of Labour activist Bex Bailey. If you dismiss the story of the hand on the knee, the inappropriate comment, the request to go out and buy a sex toy, as a bit of banter, where does that leave us with a serious accusation of rape. Oh sorry you should have been tougher, you should have seen the funny side, we all coped.
It doesn't quite cut it does it?

Because that's another issue that these women have raised, that these reports of inappropriate comments, hands wandering in taxis, shouldn't be shared alongside the more serious allegations because the victims are just showing off, wanting to draw attention to themselves and be part of the latest trend on social media.

What these women are missing is the fact all these stories are part of the same narrative - a narrative that shows that for far too long men have been using their positions of power to abuse women because there has been no fear of retribution. They have relied on the fact that women of an older generation were made to feel it was an acceptable part of a working or social environment - accepted that this was just how men were.

And here we get to the crux of the situation. Far from being weak and fragile and humourless, women of a younger generation, my generation, are not prepared to live in a world where men think they can treat us how they like and get away with it. We have grown up not just with feminism as a tune playing in the background, but with it coursing through our veins.

We have grown up to believe we are the complete equals to men, we can achieve just as much as them and we do not expect to have any salivating, handsy MP, film producer, actor or fashion photographer standing in our way.

We do not speak out and 'moan' because we are in some way unempowered. We speak out because, unlike our older counterparts, we feel a sense that what men have been doing, and will continue to do if we do not stop it, is wrong and not welcome in our lifetime.

Call us fragile, call us snowflakes, say we left our sense of humours at university if you like but we the millennials pledge to continue our fight and there is a welcome seat on the battle bus for all those ladies of the 70's who were forced to bite their lip and carry on.




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