Same-sex marriage is now legal, and we finally seem to be making some progress against racism as a country. We’ve tackled two huge things these past few weeks, but there is still something lurking in the shadows that must be addressed: rape. It’s an ugly word that we don’t like to think or talk about, which is partly why it has become such a huge problem. It’s a very American belief that if you don’t face things head on, they’ll just go away. As we know, this is almost never true.
I, for one, am so sick of being a woman in this country. Men will never understand walking down the street at night while their adrenaline is pumping and they’re carrying their car key between their fingers in case they’re attacked. They’ve never had to memorize how to fight back against a rapist. They don’t have to carry pepper spray or a rape whistle. They don’t have to think twice about what they’re wearing before they leave the house so as not to invite unwanted attention. But we do, and we shouldn’t have to.
We live in a culture that teaches young men that women’s bodies are literally theirs for the taking. This actually makes me want to be physically ill. Every time a young woman is raped at an off-campus party and reports it, only to be scoffed at, every time a woman is attacked on the street and doesn’t report it because she knows nobody will believe her, every time a girl was about to have sex with a man and changed her mind, only to be held down and forcibly raped, then does nothing because she doesn’t even recognize it as such, we FAIL. We’re telling these women that they’re not important, they don’t matter, they are nothing. They can do nothing. We won’t help them.
We like to take high profile cases and pretend to be supportive. Whether or not we mean well is neither here nor there, because when it comes down to it, colorful signs and clever hashtags don’t actually do anything. Which is why we need to know how to protect ourselves.
- Carry pepper spray: This may seem unnecessary, but you’d rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it.
- Take a self-defense class: Do this with some of your girlfriends or your sister. The better you know how to protect yourself, the more you empower yourself.
- Workout in general: The stronger you are, the better you can fight. Simple as that.
- Never take an open drink from someone: Whether you’re at a party or a bar, never take a drink from anyone if it isn’t in a sealed bottle.
- If you decide to go home with a guy, give your friends all the info you have on him: Including but not limited to phone number, full name, tag number if you’re going in his car.
- Don’t be afraid to say no: If a guy makes you feel uncomfortable at all, tell him no. It’s your right and your body, not his.
- Always be aware of your surroundings: This is especially important at night. Check over your shoulder every now and then while you’re walking.
- Try not to walk alone at night. Period.