It happens almost every night. After a day of hanging our with my friends, doing homework, and messing around on the internet, it's finally time for me to go home for the night. And, that means that it's time for Skye to stop whatever he's doing and meet me to walk me home. We both know that it isn't a good idea for a girl to go walking alone at night, especially a girl as small and nonathletic as I am. So every night, he walks the three blocks from the dorms to my house and back, just to make sure that I get home safely.

But here's the thing: he shouldn't have to do this. I shouldn't have to be afraid of walking home, no matter the time of day. I shouldn't have to worry about whether a place is too "sketchy" or not. I shouldn't have to worry when I hear someone walking behind me. I shouldn't have to, but I do.

And you know what? It just isn't fair.

This week was breast cancer awareness week. I was reading one of the informational posters when I learned a very shocking statistic. One in 8 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetimes. That's shocking enough on it's own, but it's even more scary when you compare it to another statistic. While 1 in 8 women get breast cancer, 1 in 6 women are sexually assaulted during their lives. 1 in 6, and it can go as high as 1 in 4 on college campuses. To put that in perspective, let me paint you a picture. My Theory I class has, lets say, 70 people in it. Since UNCG's population is about 70% women, we can estimate that there are around 49 women in my class. That means that every time we all get together, I am in the room with between 8 and 12 women (and one man) who have been, or will be, sexually abused. It could be one of the people I see every day, someone I sit with or eat lunch with on a regular basis. This could be, no, is, affecting my friends and colleagues.

So what's being done about it? Here's the thing that bothers me. Whenever I hear people talk about abuse, they always aim their advice towards women, telling them what they should do to protect themselves. And while that is useful knowledge, I have a few problems with it. The first is that most abusers are not people who jump you on the street, but people you know and trust, like your friend or your boyfriend. None of the advice can prepare a woman for being betrayed by someone she trusts.
Secondly, giving women advice on how to stop abuse makes it seem like those who are abused were somehow lax or unprepared. It makes it seem like if you follow a few simple rules you're off the hook, and those who get abused just weren't playing the game right. But that isn't the case. There are plenty of people who are careful, who follow every rule, who take every precaution, and still get raped. There is no sure-fire way for women to prevent themselves from being raped, except to never be around people ever again, and that just isn't a viable option.
And lastly, I feel like people just take it for granted that abuse is something that women just have to deal with. People feel like we should follow the rules and  prepare and that's just part of life. But it shouldn't be that way. I shouldn't have to follow rules about where I can go and how I can dress just so I can be safe from other people. I shouldn't have to carry something sharp with me when I'm alone, or keep a rape whistle on my key chain, or have someone walk me home every night. I shouldn't have to live in fear. That isn't the way things should be, and it isn't something we should just accept as a given.

And the people who dare insinuate that it has anything to do with how a woman is dressed are only making the problem worse. Blaming women takes the responsibility away from the ones causing the problem. Now I know that not all men are rapists. Most of my friends are men, and I love them dearly. But it is up to men to change the way they think about and act towards women. It is up to men to call out their friends when they see or hear them being sexist, objectifying women, or joking about rape or sexual assault. If men want to protect their friends, classmates, sisters, girlfriends, wives, and daughters, then they have to police their own ranks, and that starts with themselves.
In the end, that is a much better way of protecting us than just walking us home at night.
 

    Author

    I am a music education major at UNC-G, and I play the oboe. My hobbies include reading, watching movies, playing music, and spending time with my friends. I am very liberal and concerned about a number of current issues. The purpose of this blog is to chronicle my progress in completing 101 pre-set tasks in 1001 days, as well as to document my life and to comment on current events.

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