COLUMN: Dear society, this is what it means to be a woman in America


Katja Benz

Katja Benz, Columnist

Women’s history month started last week. While we have made great strides in equality for all gender identities, there’s something that hasn’t been so equal: safety.

When we see women in the media, they are always alone. And by alone, I mean they can be in public alone with no risk of being injured or worse.

As a little kid, I was told to never talk to strangers because you never know who they are or where they could take you.

However, as I’ve gotten older I’ve noticed that it has become less and less a reality, especially for women. As I’ve gotten older, if I see another woman being followed, I come up to her and help her to check to see if she’s okay.

That, unfortunately, is not the case for some women. Just because women should doesn’t mean they do.

There were times last semester where I would walk home from the newsroom alone at midnight. While I wasn’t particularly worried about myself, I still held my keys through my fingers to use them as a weapon just in case I needed to.

At points in that same semester, I wasn’t the last person to leave the newsroom. On one occasion, I remember our editor in chief, one of the associate news editors and photo editor, who are all female identifying, were still in the newsroom after I left around 11:30 p.m.

I was more worried about their safety than my own. There are so many ways that any of them could have gotten hurt and if they were alone, I would have felt awful if they were.

I see so many women carry pepper spray in their purses. Here on campus, I see female students have pepper spray or sharp objects on their lanyards to protect themselves. That rhetoric is a scary one. Women shouldn’t have to worry about getting followed anywhere they go.

Another scary rhetoric is what happens when a woman says no to a man after being asked out.

While this has never happened to me, it’s happened to my friends. Every time, they get scared for their life, especially because they were being followed or worse.

It scares me to think about the fact that women always walk around with this fear. If this fear starts at young ages when we can’t defend ourselves, then how are we supposed to know how to handle it when we’re older?

We don’t. And there needs to be something to change.

We can start by treating women with the same respect we give men automatically. By doing that, we even the playing field for everyone, regardless of gender identity, race or ability level.

How does this sexism help anyone?

It doesn’t and it shows.

Katja Benz is a junior English major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]