I was, frankly, shocked.
“Your phone is dead? And you’re okay with walking alone after dark in an unfamiliar place?” I asked him.
It was something that I could not even fathom doing. But such is the reality of being a woman in today’s society.
To be a woman is to constantly be proving yourself in a world where no one seems to take you seriously. To be a woman is to be objectified and diminished by men who claim that sexism in America doesn’t exist, and who refuse to truly see you as their equal.
It means being paranoid every time you walk down the street, keeping pepper spray in your purse at all times and locking the doors the minute you get into your car.
I’m tired of feeling unsafe, of always being on guard, of taking every precaution to protect myself — because apparently, we can’t even go to the library without worrying about verbal, sexual harassment.
Studies have shown there is a link between physical safety concerns and psychological distress. In fact, women are nearly twice as likely as men to experience anxiety and depression.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve heard of more and more incidents of sexual harassment and violence on campus — at the library where I study; along the street near my house; some in the evening and some late at night.
These incidents are an unpleasant reminder of an uncomfortable truth: there are very few safe spaces for women in this world. And that is simply terrifying.
Being a woman is scary, no matter who or where you are. But it is important to also recognize that I am a white woman — not to mention one who identifies as heterosexual and cisgender. This world is even scarier for trans women, for women of color, for LGBTQ+ and gender non-conforming folks. Like anything else, mental health and misogyny are intersectional.
Sexism and sexual violence are pervasive. No matter how hard you try, you can’t escape them. They're like a stain you just can’t get rid of. But this violence is so much more than just a cultural problem — it's one that affects mental health, too. And we really, really need to fix it.