I wasn't really aware of the dangers of actually being a woman that was inherently specific to my gender until I was much older. By the time I was in high school, I began to understand that women, apart from men, tend to be at a much higher risk for violence, for rape, and for abuse than men.
What I didn't really realize until I was college was the fact that women are not only at a much higher risk for each of these things but that we are at a risk for such things because of our gender.
As I've been in college, learning about women's history, feminism and historical and systemic oppression of certain groups, of course, this idea has been building in my mind. But it wasn't until something happened about a week ago that made me really understand.
I was meeting with the current adviser and a few members of the feminist organization I am in the women's center of the university I attend when all of a sudden, a disheveled looking man who was clearly not a student walked into the building and saying a few things that sincerely disturbed us.
After we were able to send the man away, we called public safety, and me and around ten other women or so hid in offices or in the libraries with the doors locked, anxious and unable to continue our meeting for quite some time.
It wasn't easy to get back into the swing of things after the matter had been settled. My adviser reassured me after the man's encounter with public safety that this was likely a disturbed individual who had just so happened to wander into a random building on campus. As it turns out, it was. But I wasn't completely reassured.
Even if this was a man who was on drugs or having some kind of mental break, the location of where he chose to trespass concerned me because the location of where he chose was specific to women.
Judging by the nature of the things he was saying as well, it was easy to assume that this individual may have had some intent to harm a group of women simply because they are women. Even after the situation had ended, I was considering what could be the worst of every alternative I had imagined.
You see, this individual could have walked into the engineering department, into the philosophy department, into the foreign language department, and may have had intent to harm individuals, but not out of any purpose specifically related to their identity. However, this man walked into the women's center.
He could have also walked into the office of multicultural affairs or into a safe space designated for LGBTQ individuals. Each of these spaces dedicated to the advocacy, the protection, the promotion, etc. of a particular identity for a particular group of people.
What this experience made me discover is that there are individuals, such as myself, who fear violence, rape and other forms of abuse specifically for our status as women, as racial minorities, as members of the LGBTQ community and so forth. The fact of the matter is that there are people out there who wish to harm other people, and there are people out there who wish to harm other people due to their specific identity.
In 2018, I think that there are many people who seem to doubt the dangers that a woman could have specifically related to her identity as a female. They say that sexism and misogyny have greatly subsided. And therefore, there is no reason to be concerned with sexist language, rhetoric and actions.
The truth is, every small action or word that contributes to the degradation of women also contributes to the violence of women, and it is a constant reminder that I and other women or minorities can never be too careful when we see something suspicious. That "something suspicious" could not only be an individual intending to do harm, but an individual intending to do harm because of something that is apart of my own identity.