Women are people, too

By Karly Dunn

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(Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT)

(Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT)

Who I am is much more than the clothes I wear or the number of boyfriends I’ve had.

I’ve been thinking about how much of the world today focuses on how presentable girls and women need to be in every institution they are introduced into. I don’t think the world will be satisfied until we pull our prairie skirts and turtlenecks out of our closets.

I never noticed how powerful male opinion is until my friend pointed out to me last summer that I wasn’t a feminist.

At that point in my life, she was right. I didn’t appreciate the feminist movement because it seemed they represented white women more than women of color. As a white woman, I did not want to be a part of an institution that supports the rights of some, but not all women.

Since then, I’ve changed the way I look at the movement. I identify as a feminist, but primarily because I choose to be a woman in favor of the representation of all women’s rights.

I have increasingly noticed the injustices women are subjected to in daily life. Women constantly feel the need to take extra steps just to be respected in the workplace or even social settings. Sexual assault is now often justified with the reasoning of “she asked for it.”

This response makes me wonder if a woman ever puts on a skirt or a strapless dress to a party and thinks, “Maybe, if I go to the party in this, I’ll be sexually assaulted to the point where I can’t defend myself anymore.”

Maybe I’m just confused. I like to think I am in charge of my body and I can control what happens to it. This includes my right to terminate a pregnancy, my right to wear a tank top and my right to deny consent. White men have always granted themselves the power to govern those rights.

Historically too, white men have controlled the lives of Native Americans and the lifestyles of people of color. Today, although people of color have been granted legal equality in the United States, the social injustices they suffer are also due to their inability to take control of their own bodies.

In a country that only recently granted same-sex couples the right to marry, how slow of progress do we need to make before we start to accept that people should be in charge of their own personal affairs without social punishment?

We have been teaching women to dress and act appropriately so men won’t harass them. This is not how it should be handled. Essentially, we punish and restrict women for men’s lack of self-control and respect. It is more appropriate to teach boys not to sexualize the female body instead of telling them women are “just more sexual, biologically.”

We need to stop looking at women in a sexual context and start treating them more like people. It’s important to stop looking at a woman breastfeeding her child and say, “I don’t need to see that.” It’s important to start seeing women as the people they are, not just beings men can use to feed their sexual desires.

Karly Dunn is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]