I’m no feminist by any means. That doesn’t mean I don’t get incredibly riled up when a guy singles me out in a hockey game to check me, or when I’m at a club and every man on the dance floor suddenly decides I wanted him to fondle me from behind. Disrespect infuriates me. But there’s a difference between being disrespected when I’m minding my own business and being disrespected when encouraging disrespectful behavior.
My friend and I were walking around campus this past Tuesday when we encountered a long stretch of handmade signs protesting rape. There were no posters defending men who are raped. Every poster accused men of raping women and of disrespecting them. My friend, an incredibly chivalrous 22-year-old male, was highly offended by the message presented. “Yes, all men are evil,” he scoffed. “I hate these posters. I would rip them down, but then everyone would be all ‘Oh, yeah, that one…he’s gotta be a rapist because he disagrees with those posters’. “. He pointed at a few which read things like “My dress doesn’t say yes” and “I should be able to drink at parties without getting raped”. “I’m sorry,” he said. “But if you’re hammered at a party with other hammered people, you’re scantily dressed if at all, and you’re making out with everyone you see, something is naturally going to follow. It’s not that I support it, but calling all college men rapists because you’re out of control?? It’s so unfair.”. And I completely agree with him.
Taking advantage of a woman is not okay by any standard, drunk or not, but my friend has a valid point: Women finding themselves in such situations have often put themselves there willingly. I don’t think it’s right to generalize men and accuse them all of actively disrespecting every woman they encounter. It is still a woman’s responsibility to take command of her actions and treat herself and others the same way she expects them to treat her. Im disgusted when I go to clubs and I see the low-cut, mini-skirt dresses and excessive makeup all around me. This new identification of “beauty” is merely a reflection of inter-feminine competition for attention. Seeking male attention by these means is only ever asking for trouble. I personally prefer to dress modestly and act to not impress. I would rather win respect acting respectfully of myself and others than be disrespected because I, well, asked for it. That doesn’t mean dressing suggestively means you deserved to be raped, but what does dressing “sexy” mean by definition? Think about it.
But this inter-female competition for male attention is a new root of evil among unisex social gatherings, such as clubs. The female strive for perfection is often self-induced. So many of my female friends get ready to go out with the intentions of being the most attractive girl in their company. By causing a rift amongst our own ranks, we invite the opportunity for men to judge us at the same level. Out of all the places I could find a quote, I actually was most struck by a recent re-run of Mean Girls. Ms. Norbury is asked to speak to the female population at school about a “burn book” some students used to document hurtful words about their classmates. Referring to the entries, she addressed the crowd, telling them “You’ve all got to stop calling each other sluts and whores. It just makes it okay for guys to call you sluts and whores.”. Her point is spot on and demonstrates how bahavior can directly affect levels of respect between the different sexes.
I just wish more women would realize the things they’re bringing upon themselves and other women. To be respected, you must give respect – to yourself and other women. Women should not be itemized by men, but what example is it if they present themselves as items first? Think about this the next time you’re out and maybe you’ll see what I mean. Meanwhile, I will continue to go against the grainof society and be modest, respectful, little ole Kayla, hiding in the corner and rolling my eyes at the women who seem determined to make the expectations men have of me more and more difficult to navigate.