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The Female Experience

Let me just begin and end this with one sentence:

Stop teaching our girls to not be victims; instead teach our boys to not be predators.

I thought, at the beginning of Covid, that the pandemic would make people kinder. More patient. That being uncertain and fearful and all hurting for the same reason would make people pull together, form community, have a better underlying feeling of unity and compassion. And for a short while that did happen. We rallied to support small businesses, we did what we could to follow the rules and stay home. We supported the USPS, clapped and chanted for medical works, showed our appreciation for essential workers like grocery store clerks and food delivery people. But then we got tired. We grew fatigued. Angry rather than just frightened. We stopped being kind to each other and instead grew resentful and paranoid.

And the biggest way I’ve seen that come into reality, personally, is in race and gender discrimination of politics.

Politics in 2020 have gone from debate and differences, but ultimately working to better the American existence to a disgusting hodgepodge of sexism, racism, homophobia, bigotry, and self-serving money grabbing. I am a very stereotypical-looking petite young woman... I’ve been assaulted in the past, harassed, followed, drugged, etc, and yet I have walked with confidence around my neighborhood here in Chicago for years. These last months, however, have changed that. I am scared for my safety on a daily bases. I have been called a whore. I have been called the n-word. I have been backed into a corner by a man raging about the evil of the world, the economy, and how women don’t deserve to have jobs. I have been screamed at by anti-maskers, berated for my political beliefs, and dishearten more and more and more with every evil done by our government. The final straw for me being the death of Ruth Bader Ginsberg (a personal idol of mine) and her rushed replacement, Amy Coney Barrett. I am appalled at the retraction of progress we as people, as Americans, have made.

Our daughters are growing up in a world that tells them no. Tells them no over and over again... but that they themselves are not allowed to say no.

Our sons are growing up in a world that tells them that if they hear no, they should ignore it, work around it, change the rules so no means yes, lie, grab, cheat, bully, and fight their way into gaining more, more, more. That no has no consequences.

Don’t believe me? In five minutes flat I thought of the following list of things women do to protect themselves that I’m pretty damn sure men don’t do.

Keeping keys in hand

Not listening to full volume music while jogging/walking

Not going anywhere alone at night

Never leaving a drink unattended

Carrying pepper spray

Not wearing a ponytail at night

Watching reflection in atm

Watching window reflections and shadows for what’s behind while walking

Sitting with back to wall when alone

Getting into your car and locking the door even if just to get something you forgot

Purse across chest rather than over shoulder

Double locking doors

Not using first name on packages/deliveries

Never walking by a van

Parking under lights

Sending address to a friend of where a date is located

Staying on a phone call while in an Uber/taxi

Lying about where you’re going to your driver

Lying about having a significant other

Getting off an elevator on the wrong floor intentionally and then walking to the correct floor

Checking every room/closet of a hotel before settling in

Carrying a whistle

Pulling a door closed after entering rather than letting it swing closed

Giving extra space on sidewalk if crossing in front of alley/door/apartment entry

Wrapping purse around arm/leg while seated

Drug sensitive nail polish

Always knowing what nearby could be used as a weapon

Always knowing where exits are

Never getting in an elevator with just a man/men

Going to the rest room/clubs/bars in groups

Never letting a man hand you a drink

I repeat... this world gets scarier by the day, when we should be making it safer as a whole, on every level. We have a unique opportunity right now and we’re blowing it. We should pulling together. We should be sharing our fears and concerns with one another. Making our future brighter. Fighting Covid together. Fighting inequalities together. Not recessing. Not making the divisions between race and gender and sexual orientation and religion deeper and more full of resentment.

We need to stop teaching our youth to not be victims and instead teach our politicians, our parents, and our role models to not be predators.

We are in this together. And we need to start acting like it.

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