Mascot for #DevilDiss

Mascot for #DevilDiss
Mascot for #DevilDiss

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Women and Campus Safety

In the episode "The Wish" of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Cordelia wishes the Slayer had never come to town and her timeline magically resets to reflects this. Sunnydale without a slayer means curfews, high death rates and people dressing in bland, boring clothes so as not to attract a vampire's eye. When Cordelia shows up to school in her normal, revealing clothes Harmony asks her what's up with the "come bite me outfit."
Cordelia is of course killed.

This keeps running round and round in my head because UNM the past year has been the subject of investigations because of its campus safety (or lack thereof) and in the last week there have been three instances where women have been groped/intimidated on campus. The suspect flees and other than the Lobo Alerts I get on my phone, I've heard nothing else about it.

Now, I bring up the Cordelia story because it highlights an unpopular idea, the fine line between victim blaming and realistic actions.
Do I believe that women should be able to walk around a college campus dressed in whatever manner they want and not have to worry about molestation? Of course. Do I think it's necessarily safe to do so? No. Not on many college campus, and in the two years I have been on UNM's campus, certainly not here.

As I walk across campus, often at night, once I've gotten out of class, I see many behaviors that worry me. They worry me because they show absolutely no regard for situational awareness or personal safety.
  • Women in shoes they absolutely, positively could not defend themselves in or run away from a situation in.
  • Women whose heads are down, glued to their phone screens as they walk through dark spots, and past trees.
  • Women who have ear buds in, thus ensuring they will have no previous warning of an attack.
  • Women who have their hands full as they walk, so they will waste precious moments in defending themselves.
Should women have to think like this? Of course not. But I also wear slacks and comfortable shoes to defend myself or run. My stuff is always in my back keeping my hands free. As much as I love to listen to music, I would never block out sound when walking on campus, and I put my phone away as soon as I leave the building, never having it out or advertising I'm a target. I also couldn't tell you the last time I approached the parking garage without my keys griped in my hand.

One of the things too I've noticed about these reports on campus.
No a single one mentions these women fighting back. Now when I mentioned this yesterday, as our classes' cellphones all went off with the latest Lobo Alert, the other females in the room said it was shock. And I get that. But I also think it goes deeper than that. Women are not for the most part taught to fight back. We are taught to run if anything. While some may take self defense, or have some pieces of advice passed down from others (see my above behaviors) if faced with this situation, of a man approaching them and touching them inappropriately or pushing them, would name fighting back as a first choice.
And that says a lot.

So as colleges and universities start back, and once again students are on campus, I urge women to be safe, be smart, and be aware.

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