Over the past couple years there has been a lot of media attention on sexual assaults on college Campuses. Stories from schools across the nation have made headlines. Documentaries like “the Hunting Ground” have shocked audiences across the country and schools are taking steps to change. Yet this problem is so much bigger than people realize because the media only tells part of the story. It isn’t just Columbia and Stanford. It’s not just young women on college campuses, sexual assault and violence against women happens everywhere, all the time, to girls and women of all ages.
Statistics say 1 in 6 women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. This fact hangs over the heads of women everywhere. It’s the little voice in our heads that makes us travel in packs. It reminds us to never walk alone. It’s the instinct to change directions when we notice a man walking behind us. It’s something all women have to live with.
Every day we walk down city streets with our heads down as men hollar, whistle and stare. In school we have to make sure we wear clothes that aren’t distracting to boys. No shorts too short, no stomach or bra straps showing. When we go out we make sure to turn guys down as politely as possible. We make up excuse and tell lies, we say we have a boyfriend because saying no is never enough.We teach young girls how to dress, how to act and what to say. We teach them all these things in hopes that they do not become that 1. The pressure is put on women to protect themselves from rape. But, maybe instead of teaching girls to not get raped, we could instead teach boys how not to rape.
We have the power to raise this next generation differently. Instead of telling girls to cover up, we should teach boys not to stare. We need to teach boys not to catcall, instead of teaching our girls how to avoid them. We need boys to learn that a girl can wear whatever she wants whenever she wants. We need to teach boys that no means no and there is no excuse for violating another person.We need to demand more from boys. We need to teach the next generation of boys to respect girls so they grown into men who respect women.
I am not having kids anytime soon. But one day down the line if I do I will make sure to raise them differently. Things do not have to stay the way they are, our generation has the power to change things. We can make sure the next generation of boys learn to respect girls. We can make sure the ones who don’t are held accountable for their actions. We can make sure the system is set up to protect the victim, not the culprit. If we can do all that then future generations of girls won’t have to live in fear.
Originally published on Her Track