A “How-To” Guide for Women

How many times has a woman been told she “deserved” what she got? That it’s “her own fault” she was catcalled? That she should’ve just “minded her own business” and everything would have been fine? Well, as a woman myself, I can say that I’ve heard these phrases time and time again. We are taught to blame ourselves for the actions of others, and that we should hide in fear rather than stand up for ourselves. So, since society seems to know so much about how women should be acting, I decided to create my own guide for how women should act in public:

Wear what you want.

Shocking, right? Yes, you can wear a short skirt or a tight dress if you want! It’s absurd that we are taught that it’s because of our clothing that we are catcalled or attacked, as if wearing jeans rather than shorts would have really made a huge difference. At the end of the day, it is unacceptable to allow the possibility of others’ actions to influence what we wear. In my experience, it hasn’t mattered what I or anyone else wore. It’s interesting that society only seems to highlight the instances in which a woman was wearing a skirt or shorts and fails to mention the times when a woman was wearing, say, sweatpants or a hoodie.

Say what you want.

We are all entitled to stand up for ourselves. We are told that if someone catcalls us, we should put our heads down and keep walking in silence. If that is what you want to do, please do so! It isn’t self-deprecating to want to pick and choose your battles. However, it’s when we feel like we are silenced by the voices of our elders that it is unjust. If someone says something degrading to you, and you want to say something back, you should feel capable of doing so. And we shouldn’t be reprimanded for wanting to speak up. Why is it that society allows the taunting voices of catcallers, but attempts to silence the innocent voices of confident women?

Go out by yourself if you want.

How many times have you been reminded to always travel in groups and to never travel alone at night? I can say I’ve felt guilty on numerous occasions for walking home alone at night. But, now, I look back and am glad I did so. I don’t want to cower in fear and hide. When we are afraid and allow the fear to affect our actions, that is when we have let them win. So no, I will not go home at 9 pm rather than 1 am. Women deserve to have freedom and independence in the places they call home.

At the end of the day, the message of this guide is not that women should be acting in these or any ways; it’s that women should feel comfortable making their own decisions on how to act in public. Being catcalled, stared at and attacked is absolutely disgusting and degrading and can be so humiliating. We deserve to have the support of our society to respond to these instances in a manner we see fit. The cycle of victim blaming will never cease if we continuously reprimand women for matters that are out of our control. When we start recognizing that these instances are in no way our faults, that is when we will finally see how ridiculous it is to tell women how they should and shouldn’t be behaving.

The Importance of being Alone

Alone time. It’s a strange concept where we, naturally social creatures, take time for ourselves. This isn’t constricted to just sitting in your room watching Netflix, it can be anything! Of course, fill it with Netflix binges if you want but some might fill it with running, others with a much needed nap. Personally, I have always struggled with this concept. I struggled to the point that when I was alone I would panic as if I were doing something wrong. As if there had to be something I needed to do or someone I needed to see. It took me till this semester to realize the true glory of alone time.

Continue reading “The Importance of being Alone”

All By Myself: The Rebellion of Being Alone

“Do you want to go with me?” you ask nervously. It could be anywhere: the Dining Hall (DH), the Prudential Center (The Pru), even the bathroom.

“No, it’s okay. Have fun though.”

This is the worst case scenario. Now you’re left to make a choice: stay home and leave those you invited wondering why you didn’t go either, or go alone.

I’ve been faced with this dilemma multiple times. Not only do I have social anxiety, but being at college was the first time I’ve ever lived alone, so it’s often hard to get the courage to go places by myself. I’ve frequently asked friends if they want to accompany me just about anywhere just so I don’t have to face it alone. I’ve opted for Cup of Noodles as an alternative for facing DH dinner time by myself and I’ve cancelled plans entirely because everyone bailed.

This year I decided that had to change. I’m nineteen-years-old and I’m not always going to have friends and family to hold my hand. I’m going to have to go to interviews by myself, grocery shop, and (gasp) even make my own doctors’ appointments.

The DH was my first step. If you can brave the DH alone you can brave just about anywhere. I started out slow. I now make pretty frequent trips there for lunch, mainly because I live in Paramount. I find I waste too much time walking back and forth between classes to the icy wasteland that is the fourth residence hall. I started out sitting in the small hidden booths in the corner of the DH, my head buried in a book to mask my shame. But then I realized there wasn’t anything to be ashamed of and decided it was okay to sit where I wanted. After all, at breakfast and lunch time most people are there alone with their headphones in anyways, and at dinner everyone is too wrapped up in their own worlds to even care that you’re spending a meal by yourself.

Being alone in my campus bubble was one thing, but a new crisis arose when I had to venture to the Pru by myself and no one was around to go with me. I almost considered not going at all, but the quest for a new planner was too important to put off because of my impending fear of running errands alone.

As always, it’s never as bad as you build it up to be in your head. No one laughed at me for being alone, nothing awful happened and I got to Barnes and Noble and back with the prophesied planner in tow.

The most notable, perhaps, was when I had to get a drug test for my new job. I had only been on campus for a day after move-in and I was already forced to venture off campus over by Northeastern so I could get this done. There was no way out of this one, so thus began my adventure of taking the horrid green line all the way to the land of actual colleges who offer science majors and math courses. Going anywhere unfamiliar is nerve-wracking but going alone is probably twice as bad. It’s situations like these that boost my confidence. If answering the phone without panicking makes me feel like an adult, then going on an excursion outside of the Emerson bubble with no one to accompany me is my form of leveling up in the adult world.

I, of course, make light of this subject because it’s my own experience, but I’m sure there are plenty of people who have had similar experiences. It’s the reason why my friends have a group chat almost solely for the purpose of figuring out who’s eating meals when and why girls tend to go to bathrooms in packs. We feel safer in numbers and there’s nothing wrong with that.

However, that’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with going places alone. In fact, I’d actually recommend trying it sometime. There’s something peaceful and empowering about not having to wait for friends to get things done, and sometimes it’s nice to have a day to clear your head and do what you want to do.

Everyone is a rebel in their own way. Some people buy mustard yellow scarves, others don’t wear bras, and some go places alone. I’ve never really considered myself a rebel, at least not in the media’s tattooed, leather-jacket clad sense, however, this is my way to rebel and for me I consider it a pretty successful rebellion indeed.