By Alyssa Louis
Social Media Editor
Ladies, what do you do on those walks back to your dorm in the dark after a late class? Personally, I call my mom. I wish I could say that it’s only because I miss her, which I do, but there is another unfortunate reason.
Women are taught not to go out alone after dark. We are told to never accept drinks from strangers. We are raised to tolerate cat-calls from moving vehicles and being touched without our permission.
We keep our head on a swivel because “no” isn’t universal anymore. Society’s solutions include bedazzled pepper spray that can attach to your purse, nail polish that can detect date rape drugs, and pink flashlights that double as stun guns. We shouldn’t need self-defense products and we certainly shouldn’t need to reinvent them as feminine accessories. Everyone should implement the precautions they feel comfortable taking, but we deserve to live in a world that doesn’t profit off of women’s fear.
We all have our stories. You know, the ones that send a shiver down your spine? Those experiences you are supposed to move on from and even accept as compliments?
Picture a girl walking up the basement stairs of a fraternity house as a boy reaches toward her, grabbing her breast.
As disturbing as it sounds, that story is quite common. The boy gets criticized for his actions, but only until people start to blame the girl for putting herself in such a position, as if she deserved to be violated.
Sexual harassment is not limited to a party or bar setting –– it has and unfortunately will continue to occur where we work, shop, eat and even earn an education.
My friend called me a few weeks ago, shaken. She was in Walmart and felt a pair of eyes on her. The eyes belonged to a man who said to my friend that he couldn’t help but stare — she looked so beautiful that he just needed to follow her around the store to tell her so. She asked me if she was crazy for feeling uncomfortable because he was only delivering praise, an inquiry I immediately squashed. The reactions people have in these situations are instinctual and should be validated, not twisted into another emotion.
Over the summer, I made a mistake. I went to my job at a local ice cream shop, wearing athletic shorts, exposing my legs. I would come to discover that this gave a middle-aged man the right to ask me if I played rugby or lacrosse. Before I could even respond, he described my legs as “just so muscular and beautiful” as he leaned over the counter, closer to me. The man proceeded to put money in my tip jar as he looked me up and down like a piece of meat.
“Well, at least he tipped,” my co-worker said consolingly.
We are a product of our resilient nature. We get up, dust ourselves off and move on. As much as I would like to disregard the cat-calling, unwarranted comments and harassment that myself and those that I love have endured, future women should not have to.
The purpose of this conversation is not to deter men from hitting on girls. It is to deter men from treating women like objects, speaking about and touching them as if they are not in control of their bodies.
Sharing our stories, accepting that we are not at fault for our experiences and refusing to tolerate inappropriate comments and actions can bring necessary change.