By Lauren Orr
I’ve always thought of myself as a very outspoken kind of person, especially when it comes to what I believe is right or wrong. When I think something isn’t right, or if I believe there is an injustice happening, I immediately want to speak up about it. I am not afraid to speak for the truth, nor held back in fear of what people think of me. I don’t particularly care if I rub people the wrong way or if people don’t like me for what I believe, or for how I dress, etc. I know a lot people can’t say the same, so I like to think that in times where people aren’t capable of speaking up because of that fear, I can do it for them. So what really interested me in writing for this blog is that it gives me a platform to write about topics that people seem to ignore or sweep under the rug because they’re hard to talk about or because they’re scared of what other people will say to them (or about them).
I have always considered myself to be a feminist, even in elementary school. I have an older brother who is barely a year older than me, so we basically grew up together as twins. Because of this, we have always had similar friends, and I hated that because I was a girl, his friends didn’t really see me as tough and I didn’t like that they just assumed that I wouldn’t be interested in the same things as they were, when in fact I was (especially because I was so close to my brother). Yeah, I liked to play with Barbies, but I also wanted to build Bionicles and Legos and play Star Wars video games. I didn’t like that no-one thought that I should be interested in “boy” things. And on top of that, growing up, I was always given the “girl” chores by my parents, like doing the dishes and cleaning the house, while my brother learned how to change the oil in the car and was asked to mow the yard.
My whole life growing up, it was always the subtle sexism that I bucked against. One example that comes to mind was that when I told people that my mom worked in a hospital, they always just assumed she was an aide or a nurse, when in actuality, she is an incredibly talented doctor. It was as if everyone just assumed there was no way that she could be in a top position because she was a woman. And they always acted completely surprised when I corrected them, the whole eyebrows raised, amazed expression, like it was totally weird that there were such things as women doctors. And then there was, of course, the whole situation of boys bullying me, pulling my hair, and being complete idiots towards me, and when I complained, being told it was just their way of expressing their feelings. But when I responded in an aggressive manner, or told them to cut it out, I was told to “calm down” or called crazy.
And now that I’m in college, there’s what I call the “rape and cover-up” problem. In the past two years of my college career, I have personally known three women to be sexually assaulted while on campus, and numerous other cases where women have felt threatened, uncomfortable, and a few where they feared they had been drugged at parties. Over the past couple of years, this has been become a more recognized problem as people are starting to examine violence against women and rape. But despite this, there are still numerous cases where universities have covered up the problem, justice systems have blamed the victim, and people like Brock Turner have been pitied and excused for their behavior. This is a national and world problem that can only be changed by people speaking up and by changing stereotypes and beliefs that are so built into our culture that sometimes people don’t even realize that they’re acting on them.
My goal is to shed light on as many of these issues as I can, to hopefully help people realize that change is necessary, and that there is a problem. I want sexual violence to end, for women and men, and for victims to feel that they have received the justice they deserve, and for them to feel comfortable telling their stories with no shame, because they are not in the wrong. Of course, this is not the only injustice that needs to be confronted, there are more than just sexism, and feminism must hit every issue for there to be equality and justice. As a people, we need to take a look at our society and at the world we’re living in and decide to make a change for the better.