March 19, 2016

Being Woman, Without Fear.

Hernán Piñera/Flickr

On Sunday morning around 6 a.m., I was on the train. Almost home.

Most individuals were asleep on the train, as they had been out enjoying their night. Except two men in the next train car.

I felt eyes. I turned. They motioned for me to sit in their car. I gave the “don’t fu*k with me” look and went back to ignoring them. They knocked on the train window. Motioned me over again.

And I ignored.

They then came into my train car. One sat next to me; the other across from me. Kept asking my name, where I was going. Ignore, ignore, ignore.

I get off three stops later. I wait until the train doors almost close and then I book it off the train. They get a foot in the door and get off as well.

“Where you going?” They ask again.

I run up the stairs. Look for a human in the MTA booth, but alas, there is no one. I punch 911 in my phone, just in case.

I get to the street level and frantically look for a safe area. I find a Latin restaurant with people and lights. I run inside and stay for 10 minutes. Then, I request an Uber.

As I’m about to leave the restaurant, they walk in. They see me. They smirk.

They know they’ve successfully scared a woman.

Probably adding a notch to their belt. As I run to the Uber, they get in my face and ask where I’m going, yet again.

I’m ashamed. They shouldn’t make me feel inferior. I shouldn’t be scared of my ride home. I shouldn’t be constantly checking behind me now to make sure no one is following me.

I’m ashamed for my heart to beat a little faster after each subway stop in anticipation of them getting on the train.

I’m disappointed and appalled by others who, when sharing my story, tell me that I shouldn’t have been by myself.

They say, “Well, of course that happened—when you’re coming home at 6 a.m. it’s to be expected.”

I put my fingers in my ears when I get the advice to carry pepper spray. If I don’t hear it, maybe it won’t be real.

Maybe we don’t live in a world where women are blamed for existing. Where women are at fault for society’s downfall. Where it’s women, not men, who are responsible for the deplorable actions made toward them.

I’m a feminist. I will fight for the equal rights of women until I run out of air. Then I’ll take a breath and continue fighting.

I advocate for all sexes, genders and identities to receive education on respect. I advocate for men being told not to rape, rather than women being told not to wear certain clothing.

I’m tired of others downplaying the act of harassment and stalking by putting the blame back on the individual it happened to. I’m tired of others acting on perversion and vulnerability. I’m tired of others treating women as prey.

We are not to be pounced on because we have a vagina. We are to be respected. We are to be loved. We are to be empowered. We are to be listened and adhered to when we say “stop.”

We should be able to walk from point A to point B without fearing for our safety.

Being a woman is dangerous, and it shouldn’t be.

If you overhear something which disrespects women, speak up. Start a conversation. Share the fact that 99% of women have reported being harassed. Tell them that this is unacceptable. Tell them that we collectively have the power to end this.

Tell them that disrespect towards somebody, whether actions or words, fuels the fire towards the normality of oppression.

Women are to be respected.

Women are to be empowered.

Women are to be allowed and proud of being a woman, without fearing any consequences of having a vagina.

Author: Genna Goldsobel

Editor: Sara Kärpänen

Photo: Hernán Piñera/Flickr 

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Genna Goldsobel