When I was a freshman in college, I worked as a waitress. I carried pepper spray, because I’d get back to campus after dark and have to park far away from my dorm. I remember holding it, hand on the trigger, so I’d be ready to use it at a moment’s notice all the way back to Cravens Hall.
That same year, a friend reached out to me in tears about how she was taken advantage on her college campus. She felt hurt, stupid. And the man who should have loved and protected her was mad that it happened. Fuck him.
These are the things we deal with.
#YesAllWomen went viral after the tragic shooting in Santa Barbara. The premise was that while not all men assault or harm women, all women live with the fear of being hurt. It’s absolutely true. We’re told never to leave our drinks unattended, to always use the buddy system, etc.
Thanks to high profile figures, such as our president, JGL, Beyonce, Emma Watson, the conversation surrounding feminism has been amplified. It’s becoming less of a dirty F-word. People aren’t afraid to let their feminist flag fly. In fact, here is a roundup I read recently about the 39 most iconic feminist moments of 2014.
Seeing all the attention surrounding a cause sometimes makes us think we’ve won the fight. But we haven’t. We have a long way to go.
This weekend, I went to see John Oliver in Columbus with my friend Jamy. On our way to the theater, a man at a bus stop catcalled us. We ended up eating at the worst restaurant ever, because we didn’t want to explore the city. And when we realized she’d left the tickets in the car, we crossed the street to walk up the next block and avoid the bus stop. Would we have avoided that bus stop if we were men? Probably not. This experience isn’t that much different from the experiences I described from my freshman year of college.
I’m so glad that public figures have drawn attention to this cause. I’ve always been a feminist, but I’m ashamed to admit I haven’t always identified as one. Now I’m not afraid to call myself the F-word. And I urge all people to raise their feminist flag as well.
Because at a time when governments still legislate what women can do with their bodies, politicians feel the need to define rape, and women STILL make less money than men for doing the same job, we need all the support we can get.
The job isn’t done. It’s only started.