About a week ago, I started attending Krav Maga classes at a local studio. Before the class started, one of the instructors sat down with me to talk about what I wanted to gain from the classes. The question of why I was drawn to Krav Maga in the first place was brought up, so I told him I wanted to learn how to defend myself, he asked why and I responded: “is it too political to say because I’m a woman?” The answer was not, as I was expecting, that I was overreacting, or women in America were not victims of misogyny. The answer was no, in fact, a lot of the women who came to that studio had the same reason for taking the class. In case the magnitude of this is not immediately clear: where I live and where this studio is located is one of the safest places in my state.
Women and girls in the safest place in my state are so afraid of existing that they sign up for self-defense classes for the sole reason that they are female.
It’s wonderful that we talk about the famous women coming forward about their experiences with sexual assault and in no way do I belittle their trauma because of their status in society, but we need to remember that regular women working nine-to-five jobs get harassed too. Regular girls at school, trying to learn and make friends and find themselves, get harassed too and victims of sexual assault have been speaking up. They just didn’t have a platform to be heard.
America suffers from an endemic. It is a sick country, where every 98 seconds, someone is the victim of sexual assault, a sicker country where every eight minutes, it’s proven that one of those victims is under 18. It should not be normalized for any one person to be raped under any circumstances and the fact that we live in a society which so unrelentingly makes us think that it is normal for a woman to be raped because she smiled at an over-zealous suitor or wore a skirt that didn’t hang past her fingertips is vile.
I can only hope that the movements engendered by celebrities coming forward will help regular people be taken seriously, will help bring to light the fact that no, we’re not overreacting. As long as women are afraid to walk alone in their own communities, America will be sick.
As always, there are things we can do as individuals to help. Although we don’t all have the influence that more prominent members of our society do, most of us can donate to organizations like Time’s Up or RAINN (or share a link with someone who can).
Photo: Erik Fitzpatrick/Flickr