TRIGGER WARNING This post and/or pages it links to, contains information about sexual assault and/or violence which may be triggering to survivors.
I have yet to meet a woman that does not take some form a precaution when entering the world. Despite our backgrounds, it is one of the factors that uniquely bond us. I do not leave the house without my small bottle of pepper spray and a small knife. I sometimes, intentionally, keep my bag heavy in case I have to hit someone. Others place their keys between their fingers, have whistles, and some have guns.
Yet, if there is a violent attack against one of our sisters, each crime is treated as an isolated incident. As a whole, we are chastised and told to do more or stay alert. Instead of damning the predators, we are subjected to public service announcements. We apparently need to take our safety seriously, as if we do not do enough already. In the end, the precautions we all take may not be enough to ward off a perpetrator. Why is that our fault?
Crimes against women happen all over the world; there are billions of us whose cries are silenced by the rough, calloused hands of power. This can be in the form of men and, sadly, other women. Each assailant is treated as a single bad apple while women as a whole are blamed for the lapse in safety. We are liars, sluts, seductresses, attention-seekers, bitches, whores, and the list can go on.
At this moment in time, we are witnessing women stepping forward to report their sexual assaults for the world to see. Instead of being met with empathy and reassurance, they are met with abuse, judgement, and ridicule. Babies, teenagers, and grown women are simply seeking safety. Why is safety treated as a luxury? Why do men feel entitled to make or break that experience? It’s not just random men, it’s men we are supposed to know and trust.
In this year alone we had the following headlines:
Baltimore woman killed on school bleachers had hands bound, prom picture of her alleged killer, police say
Women are being assaulted, publicly humiliated, murdered, and having their autonomy taken away. Crimes targeting women and other marginalized groups are often overlooked and quickly forgotten. Women as a whole have been victimized socially, emotionally, and physically. Women of color have several intersectional strikes against them and have historically been ignored while these crimes have not garnered the attention and gravity that they deserve.
There has always been a clear and present danger for people in general and it appears no amount of personal safety precautions can thwart a determined predator. Lawmakers and politicians, those who are supposed to serve the interests of the public, have betrayed women and their constituents. The president of the United States has repeatedly supported unjust men and has blatantly admitted to his own assaults against women. Lastly, let us not forget that there are online communities that vehemently condone misogyny and violence and some of their members have taken deadly action against women.
Regardless of race, creed, ability, or gender, there is a distinct peril for women. Think about that before you suggest to someone that they need to watch their back. There are very clear issues that need to be addressed, women keeping their guard up is definitely not one of them.