Wait, should I be scared of frat boys?

I am a young girl moving to a big city. This poses a lot of concern, most (but not all) of which lies with my parents. To comfort themselves and give me advice, these are the comments I usually hear about my future move:

“Don’t walk alone at night – ever.”

“Find a guy to take you to and from any night classes.”

“Don’t let a random guy pour you a drink.”

“Always be on the lookout, you never know what is going to happen.”

Comments like these have instilled a fear in me; a fear of what, I do not exactly know. The only thing that is for sure is that I am terrified to walk down an alleyway or past a man when I am alone.

I have heard so many stories about the “rape culture” at universities. The frat boy that uses and abuses the naive freshman, or the older guy at the bar that slips a little something into your drink as he brings it over to you. If you choose to report it, no consequences are put in place, and if you don’t, the abuse continues. That is absolutely terrifying to me. In fact, if I hadn’t had prior experience with tailgates and parties, I don’t know if I would even take the risk.

So why are girls my age so scared of boys? Is it because they are all out to hurt us at some time or another? Or is it possible that the fear comes from years of being told that we are going to be hurt by them? For example, when I was little, my mom never wanted me to go to the deep end of the pool. It was her biggest fear that I was going to drown. So as I got older, I began to associate the deep end of the pool with negative consequences – and then I started associating water in general with those same consequences. Now, I am terrified to be in lakes or oceans where my feet cannot touch the ground and I will cry out with fear if you dunk me in the pool. I think that this is sort of the same concept. We are told at a young age that specific, bad men are going to look to hurt us, but as we get older, we begin to believe that all men are like that, which of course is completely false.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that there are boys at universities and in the workplace who truly believe sexual harassment and rape is okay. I know that they are sick people that do not deserve to see the light of day. I pray that as I continue my journey into college, I do not have to meet any of those kind of people. However I also believe that we should be careful how we word things to young girls. I do not believe it is fair to tell them that men are looking to hurt them. I do not believe it is fair for me to have to be fearful walking back from class. I do not believe that it is fair to categorize males as those who create terror and females as victims. It could easily be the other way around.

You see, this is what feminism is all about. Just as I should not be scared to run an errand alone, a boy should not have to be a victim of skepticism. There should be no questions like, “Do you think he drugged her? I don’t know, he doesn’t seem like that kind of guy…” Men and women both deserve equal respect. No gender should be scared of what the other thinks of them, because that is exactly what keeps the gender lines so strong.

Rape-culture-pic

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CHALLENGE DAY

This post is beyond overdue, but I have to share this day with you all. Last week I had the incredible opportunity to experience a day called “Challenge Day.” It involved 100 people: a mix of students and teachers at my school, and activities that brought out every emotion. The overall goal was to prove that everyone is going through something and so we should not be too quick to judge. I can tell you that it achieved that and so much more. So, let me explain why this day was so incredible.

It started out extremely awkward. The leaders of the day were trying to pump everyone up and get them excited, which is very hard to do with an apathetic group of 80 high school students. We were paired up with multiple different people and told to express certain parts of our life in order to wean us to a more comfortable mood. From there, everything exploded into a whirlwind of emotions.

The leaders started by sharing their stories; what made them who they are today. They shared the negative things in their life with all of us, showing that no matter what you go through, you can come out strong. They showed us that sharing your story is a sign of courage, not weakness. So after that, we all had a chance to share our stories.

That’s really where the tears started.

As we went around in small groups and shared our stories of how we became who we are today, it was obvious that people were beginning to become more comfortable with each other. People stopped judging their peers on how they looked or how they talked for a little bit. Everyone, for once, just listened. It was heartbreaking to hear how much people have gone through, but it was also refreshing to be able to share what has happened to you.

I had never seen a group of people connect like we all did that day. As I cried, girls and guys I had never seen before were putting their arms around me telling me that it was going to be okay, and I did the same for them. Teachers were beginning to understand how hard some students have it, and students were learning that some teachers have it just as bad.

We gradually began to understand each other and accept that although we are all different, there is no reason why we cannot help each other. I heard stories that made me want to go and take on the world and I heard some that made me want to fall to the ground and sob. I wanted to help each and every person in that room, and I wanted to help myself as well.

This day was so inspiring to me and made me a little bit more aware of who I am walking next to in the hallways. It led me to take on this piece of advice: no matter what he or she looks like or how he or she previously acted, if they are hurting, you are capable of helping them.

I took this advice to heart. I have seen one to many friends harm themselves or end their lives because they felt as though no one was there for them. I realized that I have all the capability in the world to help those people around me and to make them feel as though they are not alone. Even if no other person on this earth wants to even look at them, I am able to make sure they know that I will be there. That’s what “Challenge Day” did for me – it put me up to the challenge to help all those that are hurting. So that is exactly what I plan to do, and that is what I hope others will do for me.

challenge day

Someone explain to me the obsession with prom?

As my readers know, I’m at the end of my senior year of high school. I still have plenty of memories to be made within the last few months of my senior year, including graduation, graduation parties, the senior party and… prom. Ugh.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love getting dressed up and looking pretty as much as the next girl, but prom seems to be held up on a pedestal for high school girls and I just don’t get it. I see girls obsessing over how they are going to get asked and plotting how to get the perfect boy to go with them; “proposals” are all over my twitter feed showing over the top, ridiculous ways to get asked. For example, there are girls getting asked with new Nike shoes, Michael Kors watches, and puppies or kittens. Why is that necessary?

You are spending one night with this person. Why would you spend that much money for them to go to a school function with you? I obviously missed the memo that told girls to expect ridiculous things from boys. I honestly don’t know how I would react if a boy showed up on my front porch with a puppy, just to ask me to prom. I would most likely question what was going through his head when he thought that was a good idea.

What is even worse than the “promposals” is the dress shopping. Here’s why it’s insane:

“OMG her dress is the same color as mine! I can’t go looking like we almost match!”
“Wow her dress is so ugly… why did she leave her house looking like that?”
“You only spent $200 on your dress? Well I spent $860 so obviously mine is better.”
“She looks so gross, haha thank god I look better than her.”

I can’t even put into words how frustrating this is. Prom shouldn’t be about who looks the best or who spent the most, it should be a stress free event to celebrate the fact that you are done with high school. No one should care about how much other girls dresses cost or how they got asked or who they went with. Yet unfortunately, that is exactly how prom is now.

I hear these comments again and again and it’s truly depressing. Girls and guys alike are so rude to each other, and for what? What satisfaction does that bring to you? Please share with me how putting someone down makes your prom night better.

Girls – please focus on yourself when this night rolls around, and guys – please refrain from blowing your parents money on something that is better when it is sweet and simple. Let yourself enjoy prom, don’t ruin it by stressing yourself out over nothing.