Why in this society are women blamed for their assaults? | Opinion

By Abigail Balderson

FROM a young age girls are taught to cross your legs, sit up straight, cover yourself up. All to be ladylike. 

We’re told that when a boy is mean to you that it is because they like you. We’re told to be nice when faced with unwanted advances. 

We’re told that “boys will be boys.” 

This way of thinking and excuses perpetuate violence against women. 

Yes, it is important for girls to travel in groups, be aware of their surroundings, and to protect their drinks while out. 

But it is completely unfair.

Women are forced to carry around weapons to protect themselves from men. They are told to dress appropriately, to be polite, to just “say no.” 

If clothing affected rape and assaults, why was it still happening in the 1800s where even showing an ankle was considered provacitive? 

If being nice still doesn’t protect a woman from being attacked, then how can being told to just “say no” be expected to work?

Especially when it didn’t stick the first, second, or third time. 

The bottom line is that the clothes she wears, the things she says, or how she carries herself isn’t the problem. 

It is the men who think they are entitled to women and their bodies that are the problem. 

Never would I have thought just saying the word no to a stranger could be so terrifying. 

Never had I thought that I, a 20 year-old college student, can’t even go to a bookstore cafe to study without being approached by someone for no good reason.

Why do I have to be friendly to this man that I do not know who is making me uncomfortable just because I don’t want the situation to escalate? 

Why is it that I then have to make sure to text my family my location and leave the store before it gets dark because I don’t know what this stranger could do to me? 

And why was the first question I was asked about the situation from a male friend of mine: “What were you wearing?”

That was his first question, as if I had somehow been responsible for the man’s actions. 

I had to defend myself for being put into that situation. It was entirely degrading and made me feel sick to my stomach. 

Maybe you think this topic doesn’t affect you; maybe you’re a man and you don’t know what it feels like to be scared for your life on a Tuesday at 5 p.m. in broad daylight. 

Maybe you get to walk alone even once the sun is down and not be afraid of every car that drives past.

Maybe you get to go on a run at 5 a.m. and not be worried about being assaulted or worse. 

But just think of all the women that you know: your mother, a sister, niece, coworker, even a neighbor.  Can you think of at least six? 

One out of every six women have been a victim of attempted rape or completed rape. 

And for women 18-24 years old who attend college, it is three times as likely that they’ll experience sexual violence. 

These numbers are scary.

And so is thinking that anything that a woman does makes them at fault for being verbally/physically/sexually assaulted or even murdered. 

Let’s look at the murders of four college students in Moscow, Idaho. 

The video footage of two of the victims prior to the events later that night have been under major scrutiny from those on social media. 

Many people criticized the girls for “not being aware of their surroundings.” 

Placing blame on them for being out late and engaging in typical college student behavior, despite no suspects nor motive being released to the public, is wrong. 

It is mind-boggling to me that people believe it is OK to attempt to rationalize this way of thinking. 

And I don’t think it is talked about often enough. 

People should be teaching their sons to be human beings and to treat women as such instead of teaching their daughters how to survive them. 

Abigail Balderson, a sophomore majoring in Literary and Textual Studies, wrote this column.

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