Opinion: Why feminism is not a dirty word

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I remember hearing on the radio once that most men dream about sex, while most women dream about getting chased.

I was instantly incensed.

I remember living on the second floor of an apartment complex, and being so excited because I realized I could open my bedroom window at night, with next to no chance of someone being able to somehow get high enough to break-in.

I also realized I should either get a firearm, dog or both since I was living alone downtown.

I learned in high school different methods to protect myself, and listened to countless stories of womxn who had been attacked, kidnapped, raped — and what to do in that situation to survive.

I know that long hair, overalls, dresses and other characteristics are more likely to make a woman a target for an assault.

I learned when I should look someone directly in the eye and say hello, to let them know I would put up a fight. Or when to quickly avert my eyes and cross the street.

I park close to an entrance, in a well-lit area and not next to big vehicles.

I know it is safer to have a male walk with me to my car.

It is not smart to go to a gas station or grocery store at night alone, or a parking garage, or stairs at all or an elevator with only one man inside.

I have learned statistics from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center: that one in five women is sexually assaulted while in college.

Being a student at Boise State University, I heed this warning as I walk to my car parked in Ann Morrison when it is getting dark – quickly – with mace in one hand and my keys between my fingers in the other.

Running at night is my absolute favorite, but it is dangerous to do so with headphones on. And when I realized I would constantly turn at every sound, every light and that I had set an impromptu escape route every time I ran, I knew it wasn’t worth it.

I have learned to watch each drink of mine being made, and then to hold my glass at all times with my hand over the top, to prevent getting drugged. It only took one time for me to make that mistake. I hope others learn without having the experience.

I have learned that it will not matter what my story is; he will try to claim that it was not his fault, because I was still nice to him after the fact.

Or people will ask how much I had to drink.

Or what I was wearing.

Or if I had asked for it.

These are not just my stories and experiences. Ask any woman you know, and I guarantee she will tell you the same.

We are in a dangerous political climate where womxn are still fearful, repressed and dehumanized. Feminism is often used as a dirty word spat in the faces of those who simply want equality. This is still true, even after what women have always known individually about men became public knowledge with #MeToo. This is still true, even as women experience sexual assault and stalking at rates far higher than men.

The most powerful man in our country, and arguably the world, perpetuates the idea that women are simply objects, telling men they can do anything with women’s bodies.

“Grab ‘em by the pussy,” Trump arrogantly stated, for the whole world to hear.

This can not be ignored or brushed under the rug anymore, and there is still work to be done.

Even the feminist movement has its own shortcomings, as white women have historically oppressed women from every walk of life, often for their own temporary benefit. Racism, homophobia, transphobia and more all need to be removed by women once and for all, because we cannot scream for equality while continuing to oppress those whose experiences are different from our own. As the black lesbian feminist Audre Lorde said, “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even if her shackles are very different from my own.”

The annual Women’s March was Jan. 18, and was an opportunity for every person to join together in solidarity with womxn. However, it is important for people to interrupt sexism all year. Believe women, support them, do not tell them to smile and let them take up space.

These are your mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, lovers, friends–but most importantly, we are individual human beings. And our stories are important.

Because most men dream about sex… and most women dream about being chased.

 

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