Have you ever been telling a story about an event in your life and used the sentence, “I didn’t do that thing because I was alone and I’m a woman”?
Recently I went on a day trip by myself. My husband was working and I didn’t want to stay cooped up inside all day, so I went on a little adventure. While traveling alone that day, something happened that shook me up just a little. I was driving through the mountains and stopping at each lookout point to take pictures, when I came to one that had two cars with four young men standing nearby. They were taking pictures and posing with an American flag and a Trump flag.
Here’s the point in the story where I use the phrase, “Because I was alone, and a woman, I chose to stay in my car until they were done.” However, after making eye contact with one of the gentlemen he started yelling at me through a loud speaker. I continued to stay in the car, until they finally gave up, got in their cars and drove away.
After retelling the story to friends and family I realized I justified my reasoning for staying in my car as being a woman and being alone. In other words, I had some level of fear and recognition of what these men could have done as soon as I pulled up. As a society we (women) have been programmed to be very aware of our surroundings at all times. We’ve all been given the same advice:
- Don’t walk a lone at night.
- Carry mace or place your keys through your fingers as a weapon.
- Keep you head up and an eye out for anyone who might be following you.
- Don’t wear your hair up in a ponytail, it makes you easier to grab.
- Go to the bathroom in pairs.
- Never leave a drink unattended.
- Always have one sober friend that can watch out for you.
- Make sure your clothes aren’t an encouragement to men.
- Have 911 dialed if you have to walk alone.
- Take a self-defense class.
What was even more surprising to me was that my friends and family nodded when I used the phrase, “Because I was alone and a woman.” They agreed and they knew the dangers. I even had people tell me that I shouldn’t have stopped there in the first place or next time go with my husband. So now I have to miss out on a great view or adventure, because I’m a woman and men are known to not be able to control themselves?
This has made me very angry, not at my friends and family, they mean well, and just want me to be safe, but that as a society we have to teach our women how to protect themselves instead of teaching restraint to our men.
The responses in a society that hold men accountable to these actions would have instead been, “What assholes,” or “Did you report them,” or “Did you tell them to leave you alone?” But these aren’t our responses because statistically nothing happens when we report men, or by telling them to leave us alone we are told that we shouldn’t have engaged them in the first place. It’s our fault for not just ignoring them, “YOU spurred them on; YOU fired them up”. We are teaching our women to be wallflowers to prevent getting assaulted.
Occasionally these types of ah-ha moments inspire me to write what I’m feeling in poetry form:
We teach our little girls how to prevent being a victim, but we forget to teach our little boys how not to be an assailant.
We train our little girls to say NO, but fail to condition little boys into only accept a clear and resounding YES.
“She never said ‘No’…”
We advise our little girls to travel in pairs, but then don’t explain a mob mentality to our little boys, or how to oppose the crowd.
“Everyone else was doing it…”
We equip our little boys with good manners – say thank you and please, open car and restaurant doors, give up your seat on the subway, but neglect to teach them the fundamental rules of consent.
We order our little boys not to rape, but never explain that using their fingers, or an object, or baring a woman’s breasts are all forms of sexual assault.
“It’s not like he raped her…”
We lecture our little girls that if they wear short skirts or low-cut tops “they’re asking for it” and repeat it to our little boys.
“But what were you wearing?”
We consistently demonstrate to girls that their body is a distraction and their choice of fashion can bring unwanted attention through means of shouts out of car windows, public groping, and sexual assault, instead of coaching our boys to have self-control.
We tell little girls if they take pictures of their bodies to send to someone they trust they are a slut, while exonerating our boys for passing them unto their friends.
“If she didn’t want anyone to see it, she shouldn’t have sent it in the first place…”
We drill into our little girls they have to learn to take responsibility, but then declare it shouldn’t ruin his whole life.
“What about his future?”
We instruct our little girls if they behave seductively, but don’t follow through, they are a tease; then call it an oversight when being limp, unconscious, and incapable of fighting back is mistaken as consent.
“She wanted it earlier…”
We brainwash our little girls into thinking becoming a victim will be their own fault, and explain it to our little boys as “boys will be boys”.
We explain to our little girls that no one likes a tease or a foul mouth, but then describe the degradation of women by means of jokes and high fives to our little boys as simple “locker room talk”.
“It was just a joke…”
We beg our little girls to report anyone that assaults them, but then fail to bring them justice because “it’s your word against theirs”…
It’s time for us as a society to stop making excuses, to stop dodging responsibility. As women we have to quit being afraid and stand up for ourselves, because it’s certainly looking like no one else will. I always say to start with a ripple: change your language and your perception and then work on those around you. Change doesn’t happen overnight, but it can’t happen at all if we don’t even start.
Author: Sarah Daniel
Author Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Author Bio: Sarah Daniel is a survivor, a storyteller, and woman with none of the answers. She’s been writing since a pencil was placed in one hand and a passion in her heart. Growing up in Kansas City, middle america, she yearned for the sea and moved to Los Angeles in 2017, to return home 8 months later when she realized there were more important things in life than the ocean. Now she focuses on her husband, their english bulldog, Lulu Bug, and her career in Marketing, all while carving away at her piece of the world in her writing.
Link to social media or website: https://www.