She is Not Asking For it

She is Not Asking For it

As a woman in the U.S, walking alone at night is something I rarely do. But why? Most women have or will experience sex-based discrimination in their lifetime. At 17, I have experienced my fair share of sex based discrimination and I can’t even imagine my life without it anymore.

According to Merriam-Webster, the defintion of sexism is “Predjudce or discrimination based on sex or behavior, conditions, or attitudes that foster stereotypes of social roles based on sex”. 

Although sexism doesn’t just apply to women, for decades women have experienced  different degrees of sexism that impacts their personal, social and professional lives. while struggling to fight for their rights. Many believe that women can’t or shouldn’t be leaders in business, politics, engineering, science, math and other male-dominated fields. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, many women are considered naturally fit for caretaker roles in society, yet these roles are not valued at all when compared to men’s work. The idea that if someone is female they are automatically considered less human than if they are male is unethical. 

It was just a normal Sunday afternoon. I was on my lunch break at work and decided to go to McDonald’s. As I made my way through the drive-thru, I noticed the man in the car in front of me staring at me through the side mirror on his car. The familiar feeling of fear and disgust lingered in the pit of my stomach as I looked down and ignored his actions until exiting the drive-thru. But the man didn’t leave right away. 

He proceeded to wait to turn onto the main road till I was ready to leave. He glanced back at me before finally turning, I followed suit shortly after, turning the same direction to go back to work. I saw him again at the gas station right across from my job. He stared at me as I drove by and I thought it was creepy but nothing else would come of it. I was wrong.

 Not even 15 minutes later as I was finishing up my lunch break in my car, I heard a knock on my window. I turned my head to see the man who had been staring at me standing at my car door. I was frozen in shock. I quickly placed my finger on the lock button while staring at the man with wide eyes. His words were muffled through the window of the car, I shook my head no continuously until he walked away. My finger quickly pressed down on the lock button, locking my car as I turned my head and watched him to make sure he drove away. The feeling of fear and disgust could not be pushed down anymore. Anxiety flooded my body and stayed until I got home four hours later. 

I was not asking for it. 

The Pew Research Center, a non-partisan think tank that shares unbiased information on public issues, says, “In 2020, women earned 84% of what men earned, based on this estimate, it would take an extra 42 days of work for women to earn what men did in 2020.” 

I’ve found that the wage gap between men and women in the U.S is one of the most popular topics to arise when talking about sexism. Although this is an important issue that I believe should be brought up, it’s only a small part of the sexism experienced by women.

Gender-based harassment is such a huge issue that continues to affect all women no matter the age.  The U.S department of health and human service defines gender-based harrasment as unwelcome conduct based on an individuals actual or perceived sex. It includes slurs,taunts, stereotypes, or name-calling as well as gender-motivated physical threats, attacks, or hateful conduct.  

As a young woman in a leadership role at a retail store gender-based harassment is bound to happen. 

“Here’s a tip for being so cute.” 

“When do you work next? I only want to come in if you’re here” 

“Will you do this just for me? Come on baby girl.”

I’ve grown accustomed to the derogatory comments thinking nothing of it anymore. This should not be the case. Normalizing this harassment shouldn’t be the expectation for women. Not now, and not ever.