The Privilege of Being a Woman

The term “female privilege” is thrown around a lot, specifically in efforts to discredit feminists. Since this term isn’t going away anytime soon, lets talk about the “privileges” that come with being a woman.

When I’m walking back to my dorm at night, I’m not enjoying the fresh air or listening to music. I’m alert. The hair on the back of my neck is raised. I have my phone in one hand, set to speed dial to 911, and my keys in my other hand. Every shadow makes me flinch, every noise frightens me. I see a man walking behind me, and I start sweating. I change my route home just in case he’s following me. I duck around a corner and hide until I’m sure he isn’t there anymore. This is the privilege of being a woman.

When I go out dancing with my friends, I get unsolicited comments about my dress. I’m unaware that men have approached me until they have grabbed my hips and began grinding on me, without my consent. I pull away and I’m mocked, called a “prude.” If I want a drink, I keep it in my sight at all times or throw it out, in case someone put a roofie in it. I can’t go to the bathroom by myself without men making crude comments at me right out side the door. This is the privilege of being a woman.

When I am justifiably angry or upset about something, I’m asked if its my “time of the month.” I’m told that my period is “disgusting” and “gross,” and that no man wants to be near me during that week. While I’m sitting at home with cramps, in pain, the men in my life refuse to buy me much-needed tampons or pads, because it would emasculate them. This is the privilege of being a woman.

When I wear clothing that exposes my bra strap, I’m told that I’m distracting the boys. I’m told that I either have to change or be sent home, because a boy’s education is worth more than mine. If a boy exposes his boxers, he is seen as “cool” or “hip. This is the privilege of being a woman.

If I am catcalled, sexually assaulted, or god forbid raped, I am told that it is my fault. I am asked what I was wearing, was I leading him on, did I just regret having sex. I am blamed for a man’s actions, when I was doing nothing other than existing. I am told that I exist for a man’s pleasure, and my body is an object. If I get mad about these things, I get called a man-hater and a “feminazi.” This is the privilege of being a woman.

Do these things sound like privilege to you?

Sandra Bland Was Murdered.

Since Sandra Bland’s arrest earlier this week and her subsequent death, there has been a multitude of conflicting reports. There were numerous inconsistencies- from the dash cam not capturing the entire altercation, a mugshot that seemed off, and her being found dead in a cell three days after her arrest, supposedly of suicide.

Autopsy reports claim that Sandra Bland hung herself. However, the public cannot accept this. Even if the police did not actually put the gun to her head, they allowed her to fire it. They put her in the situation that led to her death.

We live in a country where the police hold the power. They can stop whoever they want, whenever they want. They are allowed to hold racial biases and discriminate. Of course, this does not account for all police officers- some are honorable, and do their jobs. But, increasingly, there are more and more instances of police brutality, with inconsistent reports and the police escaping punishment.

It has been just under a year since the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson. It has been over three years since Trayvon Martin. We aren’t seeing justice- we are seeing an increase in racial bias in police departments and protection of officers who act on those biases. As citizens of this country, we have a duty to stand up for those who had their voices taken from them. We have a duty to stop police brutality, and honor those who have already been lost. Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and the countless other black citizens who have been murdered by the police deserve to have their names remembered. We will say their names, loudly. We will not forget. And we will fight.

My Rant on Catcalling.

My belief in why society needs feminism has only been re-affirmed by what happened to me today. For some bizarre reason, a man at least 40-50 years my senior felt it was ok to whistle and make an incredibly vulgar comment about my body while I was walking up the street to my class. I wish I could have had the guts to respond, but I was too shocked. That shock wore off, and became anger. In what society is it acceptable for someone to say something like that to a 15-year old girl? Apparently in our society. Because in our society, men are told that their opinion and need to express themselves so publicly is more important than offending others. We tell women that they should be grateful for that attention. I’m certainly not grateful- I’m so mad I’m shaking. I did nothing wrong, yet I feel disgusting, like I need to take a couple showers before I feel clean again. Catcalling is not, and will never be, a compliment. It is objectification of women, pure and simple. It has become normalized in our society: 87% of American women between the ages of 18-64 have been catcalled at some point in their lives. EIGHTY SEVEN! And that doesn’t include the girls under the age of 18 who get catcalled, because in our society it’s ok to sexualize someone who is 15 or 16 years old, sometimes even younger. By sending the message that verbal harassment is ok, we are opening the door to physical harassment. Catcalling is sexual harassment. It is not a compliment. It is not “empowerment,” as one New York Post writer claimed. It is the degradation and objectification of women and should not be accepted as “normal” in society.