Have you ever been around a group of girls and when one stands up to leave for the restroom, suddenly the rest of the clique jumps to leave, too? It's been an age-old question and the subject of simple jokes for many since probably forever. We see it being teased at and made fun of on tv shows or movies, by our male friends, and even some of our family. Yes, watching a group of four or more girls stumble over each other to travel as one to the bathroom can look pretty silly. I'm not saying there's no reason to tease it a little! However, I think there's a very misleading assumption that girls stick together wherever they go because they like to gossip, doll themselves up, or show off their "squad."
The reality is much darker.
Girls travel together because we have to be cautious.
To the bathroom, to a seat at the bar, or to our friend's party down the street, girls stay in a pack because, unfortunately, it can be too dangerous for a woman to travel alone. The fear of being assaulted, harassed, injured, or even kidnapped are constantly and naggingly in the back of any woman's mind when she does even the simplest of things, like jogging around a new neighborhood or trail, walking back to their apartment at night, or looking for their parking spot in an unfamiliar part of town. It is safer to be with another girl or group of girls because the chances of someone taking advantage of or hurting you is significantly lessened. There are more witnesses, more people to fight back, more people to cause a scene. If I'm not familiar with a restaurant or other busy place, nine times out of ten I won't wander to the bathroom on my own because I have to consider my safety. Are there handsy men near where I need to move to? Is the area I'm in easily visible? Can people hear me easily if an incident occurs and I need help? These are the types of questions that basically all women ask themselves at some point or another at least once a day.
You might think this all is overdramatic, an exaggeration of a few inconvenient things that may have happened to us. It's not.
Women are sexually assaulted and harassed at an alarming rate. Twenty-seven percent of college women have had unwanted sexual contact. A survey by the nonprofit Stop Street Harassment found that eighty-one percent of women have dealt with sexual harassment during their lives. It's not just rape or harassment that women can fall prey to, but physical abuse and even murder. Of the 19,362 homicides in 2016, 3,895 were women.
If you're still not grasping why exactly women tend to stick together, if numbers and facts aren't cutting it, here some examples that might help you better understand:
University of South Carolina student Samantha Josephson was killed by a man after mistaking his car for her Uber ride.
Lonnie D. Franklin Jr. sexually assaulted young women and murdered them from the mid-1980s to 2007. One woman survived and came forward to tell the story of how he pulled up next to her in his car one day and repeatedly asked her if she needed a ride. When she got in his vehicle, he shot her, sexually assaulted her, took photos of it, and left her to die in the street.
A twenty-two-year-old woman was sexually assaulted by Brock Turner in 2016 while she was passed out by the dumpsters outside a fraternity house.
I was once followed around a Walmart and cat-called by a grown man as his wife wandered around unknowingly down a different aisle.
Why do girls travel in packs to the bathroom? Because we look out for each other, even if all seems harmless and well. We have each other's backs.