Growing up as a woman in the United States sometimes feels like a trap. On the one hand, you are constantly told that you have nothing to complain about, that you should be so grateful you live in a place where women actually have "Equal rights." Men call you "angry" and "irrational" when you say that you feel unsafe. You learn in school about women's marches, but only to show that there aren't any battles left worth fighting. You do not learn that women's marches were often met with men, violent and enraged, trying desperately to keep women from rebelling. You never learn that these types of men still exist out there today, still want you to be silent.

You are told that you have won, that you have been given all that the women before you desired.

We are taught we should be silent, take what is given to us, and be grateful that what we experience is not worse

This narrative that says women today have societal equal rights is the exact opposite of what you truly experience. It is impossible to feel grateful for your safety as a woman when an action as mundane as walking down the street often transforms itself into a dangerous maze, a minefield of jeers and whistles and passer-bys with far reaching hands.

How can you tell me to be grateful for my safety when my trip to the mall last week with my fifteen-year-old sister resulted in a group of teenage boys hollering at us, blowing kisses from the second story as we tried to safely reach the exit?

Or that same day, when a man around the age of sixty asked us if we wanted to go skinny dipping on the Coney Island boardwalk? Should I be grateful for the fact that these men only came at us with their words? Do these men deserve my praise for only being sexist to a degree, for not doing any worse?

I don't think so.

Navigating the world as a woman is living with the knowledge that you are never truly safe

You are not safe in parking lots, or movie theaters, or supermarkets. I can't even count the times I have been catcalled walking in a place that seemed so quiet, by a man so void of motive. Why shout at a girl through your car window as she walks, book bag strapped tightly to her back, home from high school?

Why make crude gestures towards her and her mother as you ride by on your bike? What sort of reward comes from these actions?

I do not understand why men take pleasure in scaring women. It seems nonsensical to me to derive a sense of joy from causing others discomfort. Despite the fact that I don't understand it, this type of sexist, frightening behavior occurs each and every day. Every woman you have ever met has had to experience this kind of fear, the fear that simply comes from being a woman living in the world. This does not mean that we are weak. No, I would say that getting up each day and doing what we have to do despite the justifiable fear we feel shows our bravery and our strength.

Women are fighters. Yes, we marched to gain our rights, and time after time we continue to march and protest. We will do this until we are truly equal, until walking down the street is just walking down the street, until Catcalling a woman is viewed as just as vulgar and socially unacceptable as screaming a random slew of profanities at a man.

Lastly, a message to my fellow women out there: do not ever let anyone tell you you should be quiet. Do not let anyone take away your voice. You are allowed to be infuriated. You do not have to sit silently by and watch the world treat you as it desires.

You were born to speak your mind. You were born to fight, and no amount of men screaming advances at you from across the street can take away your strength.

So, keep fighting.

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