“Oh girls, they wanna have fun”
The fun, peppy pop song by Cyndi Lauper has been around since the early 1980s. We all know the lyrics. We all have sung it at one point in our lives, whether with friends at a party or alone with the car radio.
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been told that the world is a dangerous place. It’s full of people who want to do bad things, so I’ve been on edge.
Don’t stray too far from the cart where your parents are, or someone could take you. Don’t stay out too late, or the creeps could follow you home. Don’t put your drink down, or someone could drug you and take advantage of you.
My life is a world full of unknowns that I have to protect myself against. A night of fun out with friends is always accompanied by the worries of the “bad people” in the world, and as a result, I always have to stay on guard.
The sad thing is, this isn’t just something that happens when I go out every once in a while. It’s a constant thing. I once had to walk to work early in the morning, before the sun rose, and my body was tense the entire time. What if this is that moment. Maybe they’d think I’m not thinking about it because it’s morning, not nighttime. It still is technically dark outside. Everyone else is asleep. What if —
"What if" haunts me. Walking down the street, feeling the presence of a taller person behind me: What if they’re following me? At a party with friends: What if someone thinks I want them to come over? In classes: What if they’re not as good hearted as they appear? Even in my own house: What if someone breaks in and no one is around?
I’ve seen my friends suffer. Suffer from the unwanted hand inching higher on their thigh, when all they wanted to do was talk about intersectionality. Suffer from the unwanted compliment on Halloween from a significantly older man, ogling younger girls who just wanted to get a piece of pizza. Suffer from being pushed up against a wall and being touched because, well, they didn’t say no, did they?
There’s an unspoken code that we have. Eye contact that asks the three most important words ever — "Are you okay?" To know to go across the room and hug a stranger because they look uncomfortable, whispering in their ear that you’re there to help them, while pretending that you’re longtime friends who just need to catch up. To send a follow up text after the party to make sure everyone made it home okay, even if you don’t know them that well. Because we all know what it feels like to be in those situations.
Girls do just want to have fun. While these lyrics are inclusive to girls, they ring true to every minority, LGBTQ+ person, or anyone who isn’t the majority. They want to feel free. Free from the worries, from the “bad people,” free from the high expectations, free from the sexists in life.
Free from the rape culture we live in.