It doesn't have to be rape or sexual assault. It doesn't have to be about relevant issues, like how women should be in control of our own bodies. Women feel threatened every day. We change our behavior to be seen as less powerful so that we won't be called bitches. We have to deal with the fallout of hook-up culture, where women are called sluts and men are considered heroes. We have to think of everything when we go out:
"Is my outfit too revealing?"
"Has my drink been in my hand the entire time?"
"Is it safe to give this person my phone number?"
"Who can walk me to my car so that I won't be attacked in the parking lot?"
It doesn't end there. We have to consider whether it is more effective to use our keys as weapons or to buy pepper spray. We think about what would happen if we were raped or sexually assaulted; would anyone believe us if we were? Would our attacker face any consequences, or would we be shunned by our university, our workplace, our family and friends?
We have to make sure that we aren't being too flirty with our employers so that we can remain professional, but we need to be at least a little flirty so that we aren't seen as stiff and boring. We have to ignore the comments that are made by men in the room regarding another female or the female body. We have to pretend that we are not uncomfortable so that we won't be labeled as overly emotional. It's a lot of work, and it must be done simply because of our gender.
From the government to being forced to fit into a certain role, women have to conform to this every single day. We feel threatened every single day. We watch our backs in every scenario, even with those we trust. This is because it has been instilled in women that we are responsible for the actions of others. If we are raped, it is our fault. If we are labeled as a slut, a bitch, a prude, etc., it's on us.
It's time for this to end. It's going to be a long haul, and to be honest, I don't even know where to begin. But we can start by supporting our sisters and standing by our friends. We can start by speaking up and standing up for ourselves. I know that this won't solve every issue; it won't even solve the basic ones. But it is a start, and it's something I'm proud to do.