By: Abrena Rowe ~Opinions and Editorial Editor~
Occasionally, when I get on my soapbox about the way women are treated in America, someone may ask “Why are you so angry? It’s not that serious.” It is serious if, from a young age, you have been socialized to mold yourself and your behaviors to the expectations of the opposite sex.
Why am I so “angry,” you ask? Well, let’s see. In high school I was sent home for wearing shorts slightly above my fingertips while boys were allowed to wear their pants so low the whole school knew the brand and design of their underwear. When I was 16, I was hit on by a guy and told him I just wanted to be friends, yet four years later he still doesn’t understand what “no” means. In case you were not aware, no means no, no matter how you spin it.
When I am out and about by myself and some guy approaches me, I feel compelled to tell him I have a boyfriend because that typically makes the guy leave me alone as opposed to telling him I’m not interested. Because men seem to respect other men more than a woman’s desire to be left alone. I am so angry because I live in a society that screams “don’t get raped” instead of focusing on teaching people not to rape.
When I walk alone at night, I make sure my keys stick out of my clenched fist or I am carrying something blunt in case I need to protect myself. Or I am on the phone with someone so if something happens there will hopefully be a quick response. I am angry that I was taught these things by my parents. I am upset that I rarely feel safe by myself once the sun goes down, because the expectation is that something other than peacefully reaching my destination will happen.
I am upset that I am more likely to see media articles and news reports about what I need to do as a woman to keep myself safe, instead of articles and reports directed toward men on how to be decent and respectful human beings. Or the fact that a large percentage of pop culture articles tell women how to be more beautiful, how to attract men and what behaviors they need to stop in order to please their significant others.
I am not only upset, but bewildered, by the fact that Kim Kardashian felt the need to apologize for being robbed. No matter how you feel about her or her family, you have to recognize that that’s not right. That when someone is attacked people criticize them and claim it was their own fault and they were “asking for it.” That women feel the need to constantly apologize when their lives and traumas become an inconvenience for anyone.
I am angered by the idea that my clothes speak on my willingness to consent more than my voice does. If I tell someone I was harassed or received unwanted male attention, the question “well, what were you wearing” is an expected response. Depending on my answer, the response could be “you should have seen that coming.”
By all means, I am not calling out all men. I am not saying all men think this way and behave this way. Most of the guys I know, including students here are some of the most respectful men I have met in my life. Thus, I consider them friends, and they have kept places in my life. That being said, I am not here to applaud a duck for swimming.
Guys who are respectful toward women and treat women as equals should not have to be recognized as being amazing people. As a society we should not have to attach to a description of someone we consider to be outstanding “and they’re extremely respectful to women.” That should be a given character trait of anyone. Women are people, too; they are not any less or any more valuable than a man. They should be treated with the same respect as men, and it should not be seen as remarkable when they are.
So, you ask why I am angry. Well, I am angry because I felt that I had to write this piece because in 2016 women are still treated and seen as lesser human beings than men.