Men, do better.
All we ask for, as women, is the right to feel safe in our own bodies. It is saddening that there has been a normalization for women to go for runs with self-defense weapons like pepper spray due to fear of being attacked by men. We shouldn’t have to feel the need to carry a weapon with us so that we can feel safe while walking to the local grocery store.
As Elizabeth Cady Scranton stated, “The history of the past is but a long upward struggle towards equality.” Women being fearful while going on runs is just one example of the upward struggle that must be faced.
In a workplace, it is common for many women to have experienced some form of sexual assault. A man is a part of the problem if he thinks it is okay for women to still feel uncomfortable in a professional environment solely because of their gender, for women to be raped because they let their shoulders show, or if he thinks he has the right to make the choice for a pregnant woman — whom he has never met — to have her baby.
We wish men would look into our eyes and say, “I believe you.”
Throughout high school, I often had conversations with some of my guy friends about women's rights. They’d say something like “Oh, are you a feminist?” with contempt or “Go back to the kitchen” or “It’s really not that bad.”
These comments reflect the social conditioning young men face, leading them to believe women are inferior. It’s a toxic cycle that must be broken as microaggressions like these are demeaning to women who are also human beings. Who are men to question how women fight for the rights that men were born with? Something that men have never experienced, should never be questioned by them.
It’s time for us to stop settling for your lack of attentiveness.
“Oh, it’s okay as long as you’re aware” is a statement I began telling men so that they wouldn’t feel uncomfortable when I brought up sexism. They would get sheepish and quiet, unsure of what to say.
“I believe you.”
That is a start. That is a sign that you are acknowledging what I am saying and that we can have a conversation about it. Women shouldn’t be holding back discussions of the injustices they face just because it makes men uncomfortable. It makes us uncomfortable too, while experiencing them.
There are other expectations that men hold that are too much.
When a girl goes out to a party, she will put effort into looking nice. Jeans, tank-top, and tidied up hair is society’s norm. Too many times have I seen TV shows or heard about events on the news saying a girl was assaulted and there was no holding the man accountable.
Instead, the woman is blamed for her own assault. “It was what she was wearing.” If a woman is expected to look a certain way when going out, she shouldn’t be shamed for being assaulted and shouldn’t be assaulted at all.
Overall, men need to realize the effects of their ignorance on the lives of women and must begin to take responsibility for their lack of action. The first step to understanding the lack of women's rights is listening. There is still a possibility for our society to change for the better, including the development of rights to be equal between women and men. However, it starts with teamwork, everyone fighting for the same cause.
So, men, do better.
Carolyn Marshall (she/her) is a sophomore majoring in media studies with a focus in cinematography and a minor in English.
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