Sometimes I forget that it’s not safe to be a woman, even in the United States. I work at a wonderful place that empowers women in the workplace and in various non-profit initiatives; I have a support network including my spouse that echoes and amplifies that no one should be treated unequally on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc.

This week I was reminded that being a woman in the U.S. also means that you are not safe. By the mere act of existing, of being in spaces, you are in danger.

I remember vividly being harassed when walking down the street during my college days at Virginia Commonwealth University. Getting my ass grabbed by strangers at shows and seeing them flee because I could confront them. Every woman has stories like this. Sometimes I forget about that but when I remember, I get angry. Angry at how these behaviors are allowed to continue in shared spaces and society. Angry at myself for not being more confrontational despite my fears of what could happen.

Anne Helen Peterson shared some of the metrics of this Buzzfeed post:

Credit: Anne Helen Peterson, Buzzfeed

Why are people so widely sharing this post? It’s shocking. It’s horrific. It’s a strong reminder to women of our lack-of-value compared to a star athlete. Or almost any man, for that matter.

If that wasn’t enough, the rapist’s father penned this charming plea.

Today a friend posted on Facebook that she had been repeatedly harassed by someone at multiple restaurants and bars despite complaining to management about his actions. It was empowering to see many people chiming in with stories confirming his despicable behavior…yet why haven’t businesses banned him for his repeated history of harassing staff and customers alike? If these businesses are indeed aware of his behavior and choose to turn a blind eye, that sends me a clear message that they value him as a customer over me. Despite making people feel uncomfortable and blatantly harassing women, he is more valuable to these businesses than any employee or customer. It also sends a message that safety is not guaranteed for women in these spaces.

I’m choosing to end this on a somewhat positive note with a recent story on an attempted rape that was thwarted by three women.

It’s not safe to be a woman in the U.S. Thank you to these women for helping it be a little safer, one dinner at a time.

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