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Anna Schultz / Her Campus

The Power of No

Being a woman is terrifying because any time we do anything, we have to worry about the “what ifs.” What if there is someone following us on the way home, waiting for us to get out of the car? What if someone is going to abduct us when we’re leaving work late and there’s no one else around? What if we go to that party and we drink too much, and we’re raped?

Every single day women have to think about these things. I could go on for hours about the what ifs. I can promise that there isn’t a woman out there that hasn’t been made to feel uncomfortable for one reason or another. And it sucks. It royally sucks. 

The catcalls. The gestures. The DM comments. The unsolicited pictures. The attitude that we are here for men and that is all we are good for. All of it takes its toll on women. 

Personally, I carry pepper spray and sharp objects when I walk alone at night. I’m never on my phone and I’m always looking around. I have friends who carry knives and who have taken classes on how to protect themselves. This isn’t a joke, this is reality.

woman crying in b&w photo
Photo by Kat Jayne from Pexels

I will not wear my hair in a ponytail when I am alone because then I can’t be grabbed by my hair. I have code words with my parents that change every time I go out so they know I’m the one texting them that I’m safe and they can’t be tricked. If I’m out past 2 am I will more than likely stay at a friend’s house because it is safer than driving home and parking halfway across the neighborhood.

There’s nothing worse than walking alone and thinking “if I lose focus for even one second, I could die.” I’ve had my male friends tell me I’m overreacting when I say my fears of being a woman out loud. But they just don’t get it. They don’t have to take a friend with them to the restroom so they don’t disappear. 

They don’t have older men sliding into their DMs saying that they’re just looking for someone to take care of and to spoil. I don’t care how much money they’re willing to give me, I do not want it. 

There’s also that fear of trying to end things with a guy and it turns violent. I’ve been yelled at, spit on, degraded, subtweeted, slut-shamed, and so much more, just because I decided that a guy wasn’t for me. And others have had it worse. Women have been killed for simply not being interested. To me, there is nothing in this world that terrifies me more.

Just today, in my comm class, my professor told us about a news anchor that was laid off without notice because she was no longer “attractive” enough to be on tv. Why does her appearance have anything to do with how well she gets the job done? Why can men that look like they are literally about to drop dead be on tv but a woman who is pregnant is told she is too fat and disgusting to be on the air? 

She is growing life inside her! If people think that is disgusting, then they need a reality check. 

woman with her hand up to cover her face
Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

But it doesn’t have to be that way. There is power when we say no, when we stand up for ourselves, and when we demand respect. Even if it is scary to think about, we do own our bodies and we have every right to fight when someone is trying to take advantage of us. 

Saying no isn’t just saying no. It’s saying that we are people too. That we deserve respect.

Saying no isn’t us females being prudish or joking. 

Saying no isn’t an invitation to try harder.

Saying no isn’t a women being coy or teasing.

Saying no isn’t saying yes with our eyes.

Saying no isn’t saying yes.

Saying no is saying no. And there is no other meaning. 

Alexia Lee

Cal Lutheran '21

Alexia Lee is the Social Media Director for Her Campus at Cal Lutheran. She is a senior majoring in English with a minor in Creative Writing. She absolutely loves reading and writing, which she finds herself doing a lot in her free time. If she isn’t doing either, she can be found waltzing around Universal Studio’s Harry Potter World in her Ravenclaw robe, at the beach working on her tan, or daydreaming about where her travels will take her next.
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