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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20 Things That Happen When A Jersey Person Leaves Jersey

Hoagies, pizza, and bagels will never be the same.
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Ah, the "armpit of America." Whether you traveled far for college, moved away, or even just went on vacation--you know these things to be true about leaving New Jersey. It turns out to be quite a unique state, and leaving will definitely take some lifestyle adjustment.

1. You discover an accent you swore you never had.

Suddenly, people start calling you out on your pronunciation of "cawfee," "wooter," "begel," and a lot more words you totally thought you were saying normal.

2. Pork Roll will never exist again.

Say goodbye to the beautiful luxury that is pork roll, egg, and cheese on a bagel. In fact, say goodbye to high-quality breakfast sandwiches completely.

3. Dealing with people who use Papa Johns, Pizza Hut, or Dominos as their go-to pizza.

It's weird learning that a lot of the country considers chain pizza to be good pizza. You're forever wishing you could expose them to a real, local, family-style, Italian-owned pizza shop. It's also a super hard adjustment to not have a pizza place on every single block anymore.

4. You probably encounter people that are genuinely friendly.

Sure Jersey contains its fair share of friendly people, but as a whole, it's a huge difference from somewhere like the South. People will honestly, genuinely smile and converse with strangers, and it takes some time to not find it sketchy.

5. People drive way slower and calmer.

You start to become embarrassed by the road rage that has been implanted in your soul. You'll get cut off, flipped off, and honked at way less. In fact, no one even honks, almost ever.

6. You realize that not everyone lives an hour from the shore.

Being able to wake up and text your friends for a quick beach trip on your day off is a thing of the past. No one should have to live this way.

7. You almost speak a different language.

The lingo and slang used in the Jersey area is... unique. It's totally normal until you leave, but then you find yourself receiving funny looks for your jargon and way fewer people relating to your humor. People don't say "jawn" in place of every noun.

8. Hoagies are never the same.

Or as others would say, "subs." There is nothing even close in comparison.

9. Needing Wawa more than life, and there's no one to relate.

When you complain to your friends about missing Wawa, they have no reaction. Their only response is to ask what it is, but there's no rightful explanation that can capture why it is so much better than just some convenient store.

10. You have to learn to pump gas. Eventually.

After a long period of avoidance and reluctance, I can now pump gas. The days of pulling up, rolling down your window, handing over your card and yelling "Fill it up regular please!" are over. When it's raining or cold, you miss this the most.

11. Your average pace of walking is suddenly very above-average.

Your friends will complain that you're walking too fast - when in reality - that was probably your slow-paced walk. Getting stuck behind painfully slow people is your utmost inconvenience.

12. You're asked about "Jersey Shore" way too often.

No, I don't know Snooki. No, our whole state and shore is not actually like that. We have 130 miles of some of the best beach towns in the country.

13. You can't casually mention NYC without people idealizing some magical, beautiful city.

Someone who has never been there has way too perfect an image of it. The place is quite average and dirty. Don't get me wrong, I love a good NYC day trip as much as the next person, but that's all it is to you... a day trip.

14. The lack of swearing is almost uncomfortable.

Jerseyans are known for their foul mouths, and going somewhere that isn't as aggressive as us is quite a culture adjustment.

15. No more jughandles.

No longer do you have to get in the far right lane to make a left turn.

16. You realize that other states are not nearly as extreme about their North/South division.

We literally consider them two different states. There are constant arguments and debates about it. The only thing that North and South Jersey can agree on is that a "Central Jersey" does not exist.

17. Most places also are not in a war over meat.

"Pork roll" or "taylor ham"... The most famous debate amongst North and South Jersey. It's quite a stupid argument, however, considering it is definitely pork roll.

18. You realize you were spoiled with fresh produce.

After all, it's called the "Garden State" for a reason. Your mouth may water just by thinking about some fresh Jersey corn.

19. You'll regret taking advantage of your proximity to everything.

Super short ride to the beach and a super short ride to Philly or NYC. Why was I ever bored?

20. Lastly, you realize how much pride you actually have in the "armpit of America," even if you claimed to dislike it before.

After all, there aren't many places with quite as much pride. You find yourself defending your state at all necessary moments, even if you never thought that would be the case.

Cover Image Credit: Travel Channel

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Arab-American Heritage Month Is Not A Well Known Celebration And I'm Pissed About It

I'm an Arab-American and didn't even know this was a thing... That's sad.

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The month of April is special for a lot of reasons but this one hits home for me. This is the perfect opportunity to celebrate the culture, history and amazing people who have helped bring something to this country. So many Arab-Americans have contributed a lot to society yet they don't get the recognition they deserve for it.

In today's society, the Arab community is always being looked down on and degraded. The lack of understanding from those around makes Arab-Americans feel like outsiders in a place they should be able to call home. The inaccurate images and stereotypes that inhabit the word "Arab" are sickening.

It's time to raise awareness. It's time to look beyond the media's portrayal. It's time to see a neighbor, a teacher, a doctor, a scientist, an artist, an athlete, a parent, a child, but most importantly, a human being, NOT a monster.

Arab-Americans encounter and fight racism every day. As a society, we should be better than that. We should want everyone in this country to feel wanted, needed and appreciated. Together, we should use this month as a time to shine light and celebrate the many Arab-Americans who have, and continue making this country great.

While you read this list of just a few famous Arab-Americans keep in mind how much they want this country to be amazing, just as much as anyone else does.

Dr. Michael DeBakey, invented the heart pump

Dr. Elias Corey, Nobel Prize winner for Chemistry in 1990 

Dr. Ahmed H. Zewail, Nobel Prize winner for Chemistry in 1999

Lucie Salhany, first woman to head a tv network 

Ralph Johns, an active participant in the civil rights movement and encouraged the famous Woolworth sit-in 

Ernest Hamwi, invented the ice cream cone

Pvt. Nathan Badeen, died fighting in the Revolutionary War

Leila Ahmed, the first women's studies professor at Harvard Divinity School 

We should recognize and celebrate these achievements. There are so many things you can learn when you step inside another culture instead of turning your back to it. This April, take time to indulge in the Arab-American heritage.

Instead of pushing away the things you don't understand, dive into diversity and expand your knowledge of the unknown. Together we can raise awareness. #IAmArabAmerican

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