‘Men do not carry pepper spray’

In 2014, comedian Hannibal Buress made a joke about an alleged sexual assault involving Bill Cosby. Since his joke, multiple women have come forward in the media about their own situations which has lead to what is now the “Me Too” movement.

Whether you follow along with major news or current events, you have probably seen or heard something about #MeToo. One of the devastating misconceptions is so many people think these kinds of things did not start happening until the media began to report on it. That is incorrect.

If you have ever seen the 2009 movie “Zombieland,” you know that the main character has a list of rules he follows to survive. Some of these rules include running, know your way out, the buddy system and checking the back seat. If you ask any woman, she probably follows these same rules in her day-to-day life.

Regardless of your political views, if you are a woman, you probably live most of your life in fear without realizing it. The reason we do not realize it is because we were raised this way. It is the culture we have always lived in.

I will admit, for a long time I thought the “Me Too” and feminist movements were always over dramatized. I thought that because I had never personally experienced something so traumatizing, then it was not as big of a deal.

Then I realized that men do not carry pepper spray. Men do not ask a friend to walk to their car with them late at night. Men do not live in fear that someone is going to sexually assault them.

Last spring, I attended UNA’s Spring Concert like many students at the university. Before entering the building, we had to go through security. The security guards told me that I could not take in the small bottle of pepper spray I had on my keychain. I would have to wait to get my pepper spray after the show.

I agreed and came back after the concert to collect my pepper spray. The security guard then lifted up two buckets filled with multi-colored pepper spray bottles and tasers. It was obvious that a majority of the self defense items belonged to female students at the university.

These women may not be part of the “Me Too” movement, but they have a defense mechanism with them at all times. It means that they are in fear a man can cause harm to them at any time.

If a man leaves work late at night, and he walks out to a dark parking lot, he typically starts thinking about where he parked his car. When a woman is in a parking lot by herself at night, she is probably holding her keys in between her knuckles and looking around to make sure no one is going to hurt her.

The craziest yet sad reality is that this is normal.

We joke about women always going to the bathroom together in groups. The reason that we go places in groups is because we are less likely to have a man come up to us. We carry pepper spray on our key chains because sometimes men are stronger than us, and it is hard to fight back. We check the back seats of our cars to make sure no one is back there.

It is time to stop allowing people to get away with things because it is what is expected of their gender. “Boys will be boys” is not an acceptable reason for rape.

I know that many men respect women and their boundaries, but I also know that many men are so addicted to the feeling of power and entitlement over women that they cannot control themselves.

I know that men have fears, we all do. But I do not think they will ever live with this kind of fear that haunts women daily.

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