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Precautions for women lead to fear


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Lauren Peckler
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By Lauren Peckler
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, October 8, 2004
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Women may always exist in a society where preconceived notions instill fear in their minds. I'm sure at some point every female student has been criticized for acting foolishly in a way that supposedly puts themselves in danger because of their gender.

Countless times my friends and family chastise me for running at night by saying: "Are you crazy? What if you get raped or mugged?"

Being on campus, I never felt like it was dangerous to walk alone as a female. Yet freshman year, as if it were the unofficial female safety rule, people kept reminding me to "just find a blue emergency telephone if you feel endangered."

As I pondered this anomaly that I never felt afraid, but everyone around me said I should be, it occurred to me that perhaps social stereotypes have more to do with this than hard facts.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics conducted a survey between 1995 and 2000 of college students.

These statistics have stayed roughly the same through 2003 and that found men twice as likely as women to be victims of a violent crime. This includes murder, rape, sexual assault, assault and robbery.

Of course women are more likely to be victims of sexual assault. Usually this type of crime concerns our society because it directly correlates to women and the fact that they're being sexually assaulted based on gender.

Even so, with sexual assault victims, 70 percent of them knew their offender. At this point, I start to wonder why it's so unsafe for women to walk alone at night. If most sexual assault victims know their offender, is it likely they will be assaulted randomly outside of, say, a home or common meeting place?

Again, because men are higher risk, overall for committing violent crimes, shouldn't they be prohibited from walking alone at night?

Inconsistencies in female issues like these lead to questions of whether society alone constructs these fears that keep subordinating women.

Consequently, numerous organizations advocate that women combat these issues of sexual assault through violence. Weapons like pepper spray or Tasers and skills from self-defense classes supposedly protect women during sexual assault. Is it not ironic though that men use violence against women, and women use the same tactic against men?

Does this solve the issue of violence and subordination against women in our society? If anything at all, using one wrong against another pacifies the problem momentarily, but in the long term creates more problems.

This reverse bullying approach wrongfully defines feminism. It creates an image of women who want to be more masculine, yet vengeful toward men. Sure enough, the gender lines will become completely blurred, and the female gender will have meshed with the male counterpart as women are taught the only way to not beat the offender is to become the offender. Now, isn't that ultimate subordination?

The 1960s book "The Feminine Mystique" criticized women in domestic roles as living in "comfortable concentration camps."

From this one critique, domestication in general acquired the stigma of being anti-feminism. This meant any woman raising the family could not possibly believe in equal gender rights, and that they obviously had no qualms about a controlling husband.

Wrong. These societal criticisms cloud the meaning of feminism: Women have the choice to do what they want. This proves that society has the power to promote wrong or unjustified ideas.

It saddens me that the UA joined the bandwagon against incorrect feminism, invoking more fear into the minds of female students.

The purpose of the blue emergency lights is to assure students of their safety at all times, in this case women.

But if a crazed madman is chasing after you on campus, what are the odds you'll be near one of those blue emergency telephones?

Secondly, how likely is it that you'll be able to make a phone call?

I have to believe that these female safety precautions are really just a way to promote the idea that women should live in fear, because the statistics don't coincide, and the actual efforts to prevent violence aren't logical.

If I didn't believe this, I would have to subject myself to a world where the only way I can be a safe woman is to force myself to forget that women have been symbols of silent strength through non-violence for centuries and submit myself to more masculine ways.

Feminist stereotypes are products of incorrect standards in our society, because, ladies, you can be the feminist housewife who loves frilly pink clothes and hopes for world peace someday.

Lauren Peckler is a sophomore majoring in English and sociology. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.



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