The most common trait women share is paranoia
For we’ve been warned since childhood
Of the potential danger that surrounds our gender.
We read the stories; we experience them ourselves.
We are afraid of the dark because
We know what lurks and plots within it.
Our private time is cut short
Because walking alone is never wise.
They tell us to never be alone. Never. Be. Alone.
Because they’ll say our outfits were asking
And our presence was permission.
Walk with your keys between your fingers.
Beware of T-shirts on windshields and babies crying,
For even the most beautiful of flowers can be poisonous.
We are given a comprehensive set of rules and warnings.
We must follow them, or we might end up more sorry than safe.
Store stalkers and strange people outside bathrooms,
Roofied drinks and false job offers,
Enough is enough.
When can we just enjoy ourselves
Without this second nature to be cautious?
We are tough but we must acknowledge the possibilities,
For it is the sad truth that we can be overpowered.
And for those who choose to take advantage,
We must bear the brunt of the damage
Not only on our bodies but our souls.
Call it an over-reaction or a delusion,
But we all have a story.
We know we are labeled as cautionary tales
Or the lucky ones who got away.
Consent. Respect. Boundaries.
When did these words become optional?
They are supposed to be our oath to each other
A promise to the vulnerable.
And if something happens to us,
Where is our guarantee for justice?
Who’s to say their honey-tongued lies
Won’t ruin our lives?
Everyone is so worried about the defilers’ livelihoods
While we are expected to live with their actions.
Boys will be boys.
This toxic mindset dismisses our pain,
Our experience labeled as their mistake
While we live with the consequences.
So, girls will be girls;
Holding in that silent scream
They were taught to fear letting out.
Never bring pepper spray to a gunfight
For they will punch you full of holes,
Filled with disbelief that he could ever do such a thing,
Our voices drowned out by that same disbelief.
Hear this message and yell it till it reaches even the thickest of skulls.
Engrave it into the hearts of those who don’t see our battle scars.
We envy boys for their ability to be blind to these dangers
But futile jealousy is dismissed by our desire to call them allies.
My voice grows hoarse,
My hand cramps from excessive writing,
But I will continue until this war against women
Is resolved, until this issue is taken seriously,
Until our words will not condemn us.
Until a girl can fearlessly walk alone.
Koren Frideres is an English Major with a minor in Mass Communications. When Koren is not finding inspiration in unlikely places, she enjoys reading, eating mashed potatoes, and jamming out to a shuffled playlist.