Column: The unfortunate truth of being a woman on campus

Videtteonline.com – Oct. 25, 2016

As women on a college campus, we’ve all been there. One minute you’re out with your friends dancing and having a good time, and the next some random guy jumps behind you and begins rubbing his crotch up against your back.

All of a sudden discomfort fills your body and your eyes widen to alert your girls. If they notice and pull you away from him, you’re lucky. If they don’t, you’re facing assault.

You typically walk away afterward and pretend it never happened, but the same events will unfold the following night just when you’re feeling relaxed after a long week of work and class.

Maybe one of your guy friends will even state his disgust and shame of his sex, but then turn around the next night and use you as currency to work his way into a party.

Being a woman can be scary, especially when you’re on a college campus. For some reason, men tend to feel they can say, do and treat you however they best see fit.

You’re wearing tight pants? Let me smack your ass as you walk by. That shirt shows some cleavage? Don’t mind me catcalling you — whether downtown or on the Quad. Maybe it’s your birthday so you picked out a new sundress. Allow me to whisper obscenities your way as we cross paths. Even if you’re just dressed for a normal day, you can feel the eyes of men burning into you.

It’s one thing to look and notice a woman’s beauty. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with that. It is the way some men look at us like we are a nice fillet coming hot off the grill.

I don’t know about my fellow women on campus, but some random stranger calling out and saying how “fine” I look before grabbing my ass does not make me want to jump into bed with him. In fact, it does exactly the opposite.

Sometimes, even home is no longer a safe haven. The downright disturbing messages some women receive on social media are absurd. Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, creepy men will find you and they will talk about your breasts, ass and figure while your comfort slowly plummets.

You can block them, you can report them, but they will always find their way back, sliding into your DMs.

It is these instances that women on college campuses, and other parts of the world, live out every day. It is no wonder you see more pepper spray than keychains these days.

I still remember the first time I got mace. A relative gave it to me the summer before I began attending Illinois State University. The sad part is, even then I accepted it as a great gift rather than something that wields a beaming arrow pointing out a disappointing part of our culture.

Walking home at night has turned into something that must be done in pairs. After so many recent occurrences, even stepping foot on Constitution Trail — day or night — is completely out of the question. No one wants to be the next victim.

We live in constant fear, whether we admit it or not.

Walking down the street near dusk turns into “How fast can you walk while subtly looking over your shoulder?” Simple tasks like getting into your car after a long day when you’re the last one in the lot suddenly involves you feeling the need to check the backseat before you jump in and drive home.

For our male counterparts, they joke about fear of clowns. For us, the clowns were always there, just without the face paint.


This story was posted during the nationwide “clown crisis.”

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