“Our beliefs become the foundation of our character and our character defines who we are as people.”
Every so often, a situation will occur that causes you to think deeply about your circumstances and why things that make no sense occur. That happened to me this week when I read about not one, but two different women being attacked for rejecting unwanted advances by men. The first situation took place in Detroit, Michigan, where a 27 year old mother of three, was shot dead for rejecting a man’s advances at an event she was attending. The second incident took place in Queens, NY, where a 26 year old woman’s throat was slit for turning down an offer to go out on a date. Both situations occurred the week of October 5, just days apart from each other and left me to question, how safe are we as women in the United States of America?
There are countries around the world where women are considered second class citizens. They are beaten, raped, degraded and humiliated by men without any legal recourse, because they are seen as less than. We live in a nation touted as the land of the free, home of the brave. A country where freedom runs rampant, and women out populate men by more that 7.2 million, according to the National census. So how is it possible in this great nation, that a woman can lose her life simply for refusing unwanted advances by a man? This is the question I have been contemplating all week, and while I do recognize both situations are not the norm, the fact that either happened at all is both deplorable, and unnerving. The only thing I can come up with is, it’s not the system of this nation, so much as what people believe is acceptable behavior.
Everything is connected, our thought process initiates our actions, and our actions often grow into something greater, behavioral patterns. Most of our actions are deeply connected in some way to our fundamental beliefs. Our beliefs become the foundation of our character, and our character defines who we are as people. If a man doesn’t see anything wrong with catcalling, verbally assaulting, visually molesting, groping, grabbing, or “accidentally” brushing up against a woman to cop a feel, then you have to question the level of respect he has for women. You also have to question why he believes that behavior is acceptable, because most women find those actions degrading and humiliating. The mind is a complicated, and sensitive vessel. Behavioral patterns can grow and change into something greater, simply by continuing to overlook or participate in things you once thought were wrong or never even thought about at all. Overlooking and continual participation cause you to become mentally immune to the behavior, allowing you to take things a little further every time. If a man doesn’t have a problem with verbally abusing a woman, eventually it can lead to physical abuse. If causally rubbing up against a woman or grabbing her without permission seems harmless, that behavior can eventually escalate to rape. Some of you may think I am blowing things way out of proportion and the men that attacked the two women were just crazy, and you may be right, but we often forget how the mind works, how sensitive it is to verbal and visual suggestion, and how easy it is to fall into behavioral patterns.
Men need to be honest with themselves and seriously think about how they view and treat women. They also need to consider the company they keep, and be observant as to how their friends treat women. They need to ask themselves, if this were my daughter, wife, sister, or mother would my actions, or the actions of my friends be acceptable? When put into a more personal perspective, outlooks often change. Women also need to be vigilant in taking responsibility for their safety. Take up self defense classes or martial arts, they are both great ways to work out while learning how to defend yourself. Martial arts is particularly great because it helps improve flexibility, coordination, balance, strength, and overall body and environmental awareness. Be mindful of your surroundings at all times and know what is at arm’s reach or on your person that you can use as a weapon. Trust your gut instinct about people and places and know who is in your personal space. I don’t believe women should live their lives in fear, but I do believe they should always be prepared.