A Female Perspective

A Female Perspective

There are certain expectations that come with being a woman, but there are also unconscious actions that we do on a daily basis.

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As I hit the send button on the text to my mom and locked my door, I thought about why I sent the text in the first place. It's a simple enough text, "I'm going to for a run. I'll be back in 45 minutes." So why did I feel so uneasy? It's second-nature at this point, but why do I do it? I'm an adult. My whereabouts aren't accountable to anyone. So why do I always check-in when I run?

This question bothered me as I completed my run. Instead of monitoring my breath and focusing on my pace, I thought about why I felt the need to text my mom where I was. I finally came up with the answer: because I am a woman and I have to protect myself.

It made me think about what else I do because I am a woman and the world is unsafe.

As a woman, I can't go for a run by myself.

I find a distinct comfort in walking/running around the lake by my house. Usually I go with my mom or my aunt, but sometimes our schedules don't line up and I risk missing out, so I go by myself. When my mom found out, we had a long discussion about the type of precautions I need to take because "it's not safe for a girl to go running by herself."

1. Text me (or someone close) when you get there and let us know how long you expect to be gone. That way if we don't hear from you we can be aware and call for help.

2. Make sure the the GPS tracker on your Fitbit and iPhone are "ON" — that way there are two ways to track you if you go missing or get hurt.

3. Stay on the path and don't go exploring on your own.

4. Try to stay with a group and keep up with their pace.

5. Always be home 30 minutes before the sun starts to set. Always.

6. Don't have your music so loud you can't hear people around you, especially behind you.

Men can just get out of their cars and go for a run. No check-ins, no precautions. Why can't I just get out and run?

As a woman, my parking needs revolve around the time of day and whether or not it will "be safe" to walk to my car.

I have an off-campus parking pass that I use on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday because my classes get out early enough that I don't have to worry about it being dark or walking alone.

On Tuesday and Thursday I have a late classes and work, so by the time I get done with both it's "not safe" for me to take the city Link and walk by myself.

I tried it once, just to see if it was really as bad as everyone made it out to be. I was so paranoid about being followed, empty streets, and dark alleys that I didn't feel safe.

Now, I come to school earlier on those days so that I can get an all-day parking spot and not have to worry about the dark or being alone.

Do boys get afraid walking alone at night? Do they have to take precautions about where they park and how long they'll be gone so that they can get to their cars safely?

As a woman, I can't dress confidently without being told I'm "asking for it."

At the end of finals we planned a girls night to celebrate. I was dressed to the nine: full makeup, my favorite lipstick, falsies. My hair had actually cooperated and curled. I just wanted to go out with my friends, relax, and enjoy a night of freedom. I felt confident and sexy.

By the time the night ended, I felt cheap, dirty, and degraded. I spent the night getting groped and gestured at and cat-called. One guy even had the audacity to say "Well damn dressed like that I thought you were just looking for a good time."

Apparently I missed the memo that women aren't allowed to get dressed up and feel confident for themselves. I missed the notice that looking good makes you open game and some kind of piece of meat. Feeling good about yourself means you're asking for it - whatever "it" means.

Are men allowed to feel confident without the fear of women crawling all over them? Can men dress nicely without being called sluts and told they are "asking" for whatever they get?

Why am I forced to hide my confidence and not feel good about myself?

As a woman, I can't make eye contact with a man without fearing that it will be taken as consent.

When I'm walking alone, I make sure to keep my eyes down and avoid eye contact at all costs. It doesn't matter if I'm walking alone or with a group; if I'm in the nicest part of town or crappiest.

Making eye contact with someone gives them a special kind of permission — permission to approach you, to come into your space, to initiate conversation.

Apparently it also gives the expression of consent, that you want to be approached in a sexual way, that you want their "special male attention."

"Sorry I'm not interested. Thanks."

"What do you mean? You invited me over here, gave me that look with your eyes."

Apparently eyes are more than just the window to the soul - they can also speak.

Men are taught differently. To men, eye contact is a sign of authority and masculinity. As a man, if you don't make eye contact you are weak.

Why am I forced to be invisible and submissive?

As a woman, I can't be polite or flirty without being called a slut or a tease.

There is no denying that I am my mother's daughter, and she raised me with just enough Southern charm to always be polite and friendly.

The problem is that somewhere along the way, politeness and friendliness was construed into flirting.

I can no longer just be nice and strike up conversation with the people I meet. Making small-talk so that people don't get bored or uncomfortable is flirting. Striking up a conversation is the new way to flirt.

Men are allowed to get away with it. "I didn't mean to! I just have a friendly personality, I really didn't mean to lead you on." All is forgiven.

When I try to explain my friendly personality, I'm just lying to hide my true feelings. I'm playing "hard to get" and teasing.

Why am I forced to hide who I am and act according to the standards of everyone else?

As a woman, I have to watch my drink when I'm in public.

One of the first things my momma taught me in high school was to always watch my drink. Always.

"It doesn't matter who you're with, where you are, or what you're doing. You always have your hand over your drink. You never know who could slip what into it while your not paying attention."

It has become such a commonly accepted thing that it's this unspoken rule, this expectation.

Do men watch their drink? Do they worry about leaving it uncovered and out of sight? Do they worry about it being drugged and being asked to do things without their consent or knowledge?

Why am I forced to constantly be vigilant about the actions and intentions of other people?

As a woman, I have to use the buddy-system like a kindergartner going to the bathroom.

Being alone creates this image of vulnerability and weakness, so we take extra precautions to never be alone when we can help it.

We are taught this from such a young age that it becomes second-nature, part of who we are.

Boys certainly don't go in twos to the bathroom or to the bar. They have the freedom to come and go as they please.

Why am I forced to give up my freedom to be alone?

I honestly don't know if these are truly female experiences; I don't know if men feel this way too or if they have certain precautions that they take as well. I don't know if men and women share this mentality, or if It is just me. All options are possible. But these are my experiences as a woman.

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I Am A Female And I Am So Over Feminists

I believe that I am a strong woman, but I also believe in a strong man.
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Beliefs are beliefs, and everyone is entitled to their opinion. I'm all about girl power, but in today's world, it's getting shoved down our throats. Relax feminists, we're OK.

My inspiration actually came from a man (God forbid, a man has ideas these days). One afternoon my boyfriend was telling me about a discussion his class had regarding female sports and how TV stations air fewer female competitions than that of males. In a room where he and his other male classmate were completely outnumbered, he didn't have much say in the discussion.

Apparently, it was getting pretty heated in the room, and the women in the class were going on and on about how society is unfair to women in this aspect and that respect for the female population is shrinking relative to the male population.

If we're being frank here, it's a load of bull.

SEE ALSO: To The Women Who Hate Feminism

First of all, this is the 21st century. Women have never been more respected. Women have more rights in the United States than ever before. As far as sports go, TV stations are going to air the sports that get the most ratings. On a realistic level, how many women are turning on Sports Center in the middle of the day? Not enough for TV stations to make money. It's a business, not a boycott against female athletics.

Whatever happened to chivalry? Why is it so “old fashioned" to allow a man to do the dirty work or pay for meals? Feminists claim that this is a sign of disrespect, yet when a man offers to pick up the check or help fix a flat tire (aka being a gentleman), they become offended. It seems like a bit of a double standard to me. There is a distinct divide between both the mental and physical makeup of a male and female body. There is a reason for this. We are not equals. The male is made of more muscle mass, and the woman has a more efficient brain (I mean, I think that's pretty freaking awesome).

The male body is meant to endure more physical while the female is more delicate. So, quite frankly, at a certain point in life, there need to be restrictions on integrating the two. For example, during that same class discussion that I mentioned before, one of the young ladies in the room complained about how the NFL doesn't have female athletes. I mean, really? Can you imagine being tackled by a 220-pound linebacker? Of course not. Our bodies are different. It's not “inequality," it's just science.

And while I can understand the concern in regard to money and women making statistically less than men do, let's consider some historical facts. If we think about it, women branching out into the workforce is still relatively new in terms of history. Up until about the '80s or so, many women didn't work as much as they do now (no disrespect to the women that did work to provide for themselves and their families — you go ladies!). We are still climbing the charts in 2016.

Though there is still considered to be a glass ceiling for the working female, it's being shattered by the perseverance and strong mentality of women everywhere. So, let's stop blaming men and society for how we continue to “struggle" and praise the female gender for working hard to make a mark in today's workforce. We're doing a kick-ass job, let's stop the complaining.

I consider myself to be a very strong and independent female. But that doesn't mean that I feel the need to put down the opposite gender for every problem I endure. Not everything is a man's fault. Let's be realistic ladies, just as much as they are boneheads from time to time, we have the tendency to be a real pain in the tush.

It's a lot of give and take. We don't have to pretend we don't need our men every once in a while. It's OK to be vulnerable. Men and women are meant to complement one another — not to be equal or to over-power. The genders are meant to balance each other out. There's nothing wrong with it.

I am all for being a proud woman and having confidence in what I say and do. I believe in myself as a powerful female and human being. However, I don't believe that being a female entitles me to put down men and claim to be the “dominant" gender. There is no “dominant" gender. There's just men and women. Women and men. We coincide with each other, that's that.

Time to embrace it.

Cover Image Credit: chrisjohnbeckett / Flickr

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Past Legal And Modern Social Apartheid

An opinion piece on past legal Apartheid in South Africa and how it is socially reflected in the United States.

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When stepping inside of a solitary cell at Constitutional Hill in Johannesburg, I felt a tightness in my chest and wanted to leave that small space immediately; imagining a Black South African who broke the pass laws during Apartheid being in there is beyond disturbing. Due to laws such as the Native (Urban) Areas Act No 21 of 1923, the Bantu/Native Building Workers Act of 1951, and the Bantu Homelands Citizens Act of 1970, Black South Africans during Apartheid were extremely limited in where they could live, detrimentally affecting their economic and employment opportunities. When touring the former Constitutional Hill prison, the guide told us that, when Black South Africans were caught without passes permitting their stay in Joburg for the day and/or night, they spent 5 days in prison, along with murderers and others who committed serious crimes. If caught multiple times breaking these pass laws, they would spend 5 years in this prison. Most of those who violated these pass laws were unemployed or sought better employment in Joburg; this is understandable, as a person has a better chance of having a job by being there physically. When thinking further about the lack of opportunity they suffered from due to the aforementioned laws creating this effect, this legal repercussion becomes further and further disturbing. Additionally, this also directly led to the creation of "White" and "Black" areas, where Whites lived in areas of better opportunity (ex. cities, suburbia), and Blacks were subjected to living in poverty and townships where there was limited economic and employment opportunities.

This lack of opportunity is echoed in the U.S. when looking at socially designated "White" and "Black" areas. Trayvon Martin was murdered by George Zimmerman essentially because he thought Martin "was not where he belonged", which was in a nice suburban area. As a person of color myself, I have been stared at in museums, followed in stores, and once at 12 years old kicked out of a shop (I did not do anything wrong), because I "stuck out". In this way, society told me (and violently told Martin) that we don't belong in those areas, that we "belong" in ghettos or prison; the racial demographics of populations in U.S. prisons will support me here. Therefore, by society socially designating where people "belong", not only do they bind themselves in their own ignorance, but also prevent people of color from sharing the same access to plentiful life and economic opportunity.

References

Native (Urban) Areas Act No 21 of 1923: Prevented Black South Africans from leaving designated area without a pass. The ruling National Party saw this as keeping Whites "safe" while using Blacks for cheap labor.

Bantu/Native Building Workers Act of 1951: Allowed Black South Africans to enter the building industry as artisans and laborers. Restricted to "Native" areas. Prevented competition between Whites, Coloureds, and Blacks. Could not work outside a designated area unless given special permission.

Bantu Homelands Citizens Act of 1970: All Black South Africans would lose their South African citizenship/nationality over time. Would not be able to work in "South Africa" due to being aliens. Black South Africans would have to work inside their own areas and could only work in urban areas if they had special permission from the Minister.


South African History Online. "Apartheid Legislation 1850s-1970s." South African History Online, South African History Online, 11 Apr. 2016, www.sahistory.org.za/article/apartheid-legislation....

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