In light of recent events, I am reminded of and frustrated at the harsh realities that women have to face in day to day life. As many of us know, moving away and living on our own is a big risk. The dangers that wait for women in the real world are ingrained into girls from a young age. I knew that it would be dangerous to move out; all of us do. However, while many occurrences can be unpredictable, one can’t help but wonder if enough is being done to prevent some events from happening.
For those who are unaware, there have been many incidents of assaults, harassments, and attempted kidnappings near UCSB. According to KEYT News, a news source in Santa Barbara County, the assaults started on February 28, and continued being reported in close succession for days after. The assaults happening in the Isla Vista/Goleta area recently seem to be happening even more frequently. I feel like I can’t even catch a breath before we get another timely warning or I go on social media to see someone talking about it. I won’t beat around the bush: we are not safe here.
Often our only way to stay informed is through social media, but there is no guarantee that we can trust what is being said or if someone is mistaken. The Daily Nexus had been reporting on twitter constantly as updates came along long before an email was sent out by the school.
The lack of response from our school and local authorities has been quite disappointing. Not much has actually been done to prevent anything from happening and most of the time we only know what is happening by warning each other on social media rather than hearing about it from the school. To add on to all that, we are expected to continue on as if nothing is happening. Somehow, we are expected to keep showing up to class and keep doing our work as if we are not fearing for our lives.
But as I’m reminded of all the times I wasn’t taken seriously, or called irrational and exaggerated for expressing my fears, I’ve realized, it’s because it isn’t out of the ordinary. Everyone, not just women, is used to this happening all the time. We have had to take matters into our own hands just to stay safe. And while I’m sure many felt relief when we found we could use social media to stay informed, it should not be seen as a success story.
The measures that we go through in order to stay safe should not be normalized. Neither should our reactions to news of such events. We buy pink pepper sprays so it looks cute on our key chains. We save links of tasers and whistles on our phones. We share self defense videos with each other. There’s something chilling about the way it’s become a societal norm. No one should ever have to feel this way.
As we’ve seen time and time again, hardly anything is done to secure our safety, and so we have to do it ourselves. It is neither heartwarming nor empowering, it’s just upsetting. But the more awareness and attention it gets, the better the likelihood is of things changing for the better. Hopefully one day, when we are truly understood, and these issues are taken seriously, it will all become a thing of the past.