You hear about it on TV. The radio. The newspaper. Online magazine. “College fraternity under fire for yet another rape.” We’re shocked. We’re angered. We teach our daughters self-defense. Buy them pepper spray, rape whistles, guns even. But we don’t teach our sons to respect women’s bodies. To gain explicit consent before touching her. Even something as innocuous as a kiss can bring back terrible memories for a woman who has been sexually assaulted.
One in four women will be sexually assaulted in their college career. When I first heard this statistic I assumed it had to be grossly inflated. Unfortunately, as I continue my college life, more and more of my friends have told me things about them that fit this description. And that’s just sad. The statistic should be that no girls are ever hurt in this vile way.
People say that there isn’t a war on women, but I disagree. Women have been taken advantage of since the beginning of time. Think of your old history textbooks. Now think about the women in those books. Any time there was a war, women became spoils of war. They were violated, sold into slavery, married off, etc. These women were treated as property for men to use and dispose of.
The same thing happens when these college guys attack their female counterparts. If she’s drunk, she’s NOT asking for it. In fact, legally, a drunk woman cannot give consent. Rape and sexual assault of women is a blatant act of disregard for their feelings, body, and right to say no. Women don’t owe you anything. ESPECIALLY their body. It’s her body, her rules. And if she’s too scared to say no, it’s still wrong. If she’s scared to fight back, it’s still wrong.
We need to make it where girls feel safe walking around their college campuses alone. We can’t make it where they’re constantly terrified of life and living. “Just stay home,” is not a fair option for women. Often there are night classes, social events, walking to the cafeteria, etc.
See, the reason for this post is because last week while I was running I was catcalled. And it scared the absolute crap out of me. I was running on my CHRISTIAN CAMPUS and a guy rolled his window down, whistled and said something rude. Honestly, I wanted to call him every name in the book. How dare he yell at me? I’m not some piece of meat for him to perversely look at and enjoy. I am a woman who is working on getting healthy for me. Not so creepers can stare at my body and get off from it. But I didn’t yell back. I didn’t flip him off (even though I wanted to terribly). No, instead I kept running and ignored his words. About a block down the road, I had to stop cause I was shaking. My adrenaline was up, my heart was pounding, and I was fighting back tears (I cry when I get angry). I was mad. I was having a rather decent evening, and some a-hole had to come around and ruin it for me. Yeah, I could have yelled back. But that’s dangerous. He could have gotten out of his car and beaten me up. Rape me. Kill me. I was pretty defenseless. I had no weapon on me except my phone and my fists.
And that made me even more upset. I was completely at the mercy of a jerk. So I was forced to do what I didn’t want to: keep going, shake it off. Not let it affect the rest of my run. (It did.)
Now, I know the traditional responses to my verbal assault.
Well maybe you shouldn’t have been alone.
Maybe you shouldn’t have been wearing shorts.
Maybe you shouldn’t be out in the evening. You are a woman, after all.
Victim shaming. Yes, blame the woman. Adam did it in the Garden, and the rest of mankind followed suit. We’re taught to ask if the girl was drunk, wearing a revealing outfit, flirting with the guy beforehand, etc. NOT if she said yes.
If guys would only be 100% positive that the girl they are with is okay with anything going on this wouldn’t be a problem. Women shouldn’t have to be constantly vigilant. They should be able to enjoy themselves without thinking that they may be assaulted. I have many guy friends who I know if I was black-out drunk, would not take advantage of me. They wouldn’t do anything to me. I know I would be safe. Those are the kinds of guys we need. The type who know that yes means yes and no means NO.
Honestly, I know this blog post isn’t gonna change anything. But maybe it will. Maybe you’re reading this and for the first time realize how terrifying it can be for a woman to be catcalled. How powerless your words can make her feel. How she carries a knife on her now cause she’s scared.
Please don’t be that guy. Find out first if she’s okay with stuff going on. And if not, respect that decision and her body. Cause it’s hers to give. Not yours to take.