When I was getting ready to start college last summer, I would rely on several overly organized lists and an extremely detail Pinterest board to declutter my brain from everything I needed to buy to prepare for the new chapter in my life. There was, however, one thing I did not need to write down on a list because it is such a necessity – pepper spray. I refused to even accept the fact that I was going to be on a college campus until I bought this tool of self-defense. After beginning college, I noticed just how many girls walked around with pepper spray. I came to realize how ridiculous it is that young girls everywhere feel as if they have to keep a weapon glued to their hand in the small chance that they may have to use it.
Being a girl living on a college campus is exactly what you think it would be, and everything I hoped it wouldn’t be. During my very first weekend in college, I was catcalled several times in the same night. I would constantly see men checking out women as if they were kids in a candy shop. I heard stories of one of my suitemates at the time being swarmed by men when she was drunk at a party one weekend. I am often told not to go outside of my dorm after sunset alone, to be safe. No matter what girls would wear, I would still watch them being treated like an object. Not only is it degrading, but it also worsens a young woman’s college experience. Just one tiny incident can cause a girl to completely rethink their daily routine to ensure nothing will happen again, no matter how small the incident was.
All of us, both boys and girls, are enrolled in college to get the education they need to get a degree. When their worst fears of college come true, forcing them to avoid certain places on campus or even pushing them to transfer out of their dream school, that’s when it goes too far. It shouldn’t even go that far in the first place. Girls should not be treated any differently for what they wear or what their physical features are. Especially with news regarding the outcomes of the Brock Turner and Ikaika Gunderson cases coming out in recent months, we should be progressive now more than ever with trying to prevent anything from happening to girls on college campuses.
The way that girls are treated in college is causing them to fear for their lives and often even feel as if they are constantly going to be targeted the second the walk outside. Those who are encouraging people to target innocent women are taking away their sense of identity; they will not feel able to express themselves through clothing, get some fresh air outside, or even walk to class alone. It should be avoidable, but sadly, it’s a reality that all girls must face.