Moses: The difficulty of being a strong woman on campus

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"Being a so-called 'strong woman' in today’s world is harder than it looks." - Graphics Editor / Julia Quennesson

It is known to all women about the horrifying experiences we go through in society, however, in a moment of distress, being strong seems too far to reach because of the fear that takes control of your body. 

I have always had an awareness and understanding of the dangers of being by myself as I was raised by a strong mother and older sister. However, at the moment, your mind goes blank, like a static vintage TV. I have realized that being a so-called “strong woman” in today’s world is harder than it looks. 

About two weeks ago, I was in a situation that made me feel helpless on the way back from Philadelphia. It made me realize the true horrors of being a woman and made me hate the fact that I have to live as one for the rest of my life. 

After a long day, I got on a bus to head back to campus. Little did I know, the guy who got on after me had a plan for the next hour and a half. After knowing what it is like to be harassed on a bus, and after he noticed the three guys who noticed and helped me, he got off at the same bus stop located at Rowan’s campus. Every wrong turn I was taking on purpose to lose him, he did not let me catch a break. 

I then ended up running to the 7-Eleven where I bumped into the same three guys and ended up being walked back to my apartment after they defended me in front of him. 

As someone who recently entered her twenties, I want to be independent and confident in my own skin, however, it is moments like these that pull me back. How are women supposed to grow and be strong when they are put in situations that drag them down?

College is supposed to be the time when you grow and as someone who has always been dependent on others, I try to push myself to do things independently, but sometimes college is the thing that holds you back from growth because of experiences like these. Don’t get me wrong, I still feel like I am becoming the best version of myself on campus, but when it comes to feeling safe, it makes women feel the need to depend on someone else for their safety. 

I remember thinking how normal it is to feel the way I felt because I am a woman, but a woman should never feel that way about herself. Mental strength is hard to grasp as a female especially knowing everything that has been happening in the world today along with the amount of alerts we get on campus. 

Siena Rampulla’s app for women’s safety, PULLATracker, is something I wish I had as it consists of four important buttons that alert professionals when pressed. Rampulla’s app first started because of an incident like mine and I believe that it would really come in handy for women on campus as help is just a click away. 

I can’t speak for all women but I hate the feeling of acting like you’re on the phone to avoid someone talking to you or the feeling of waiting for someone to pass before you leave the building. From my experience, I am glad that everything worked out but it made me more vulnerable. 

I remember the feeling of uncertainty and panic rushing through my body when he moved closer. My anxiety unlocked a new feeling when I saw him walk behind me, increasing speed. The relief I felt soon after people noticed is a feeling that I will never forget. 

I am forever grateful for the three guys, my new friends, that helped me without a second thought and the world really does need more people like them. 

If this is the feeling that women go through every day, I struggle to wrap my head around the fact that there are people who aren’t as lucky as me. I am so thankful that I had the courage to ask for help when I needed it but my heart goes out to the women who have probably felt far worse than I did. 

No one wants to have a disoriented phone call to friends and family telling them what happened. I want to be able to show young women that things like these happen and we have to be prepared to defend ourselves. We as women need to allow ourselves to lift each other up and be strong in situations that make us feel helpless. 

The “be safe” texts hit a little harder now, but I feel stronger than I did two weeks ago and I hope that a whiff of my strength passes on to all the women who grip their pepper spray the same way I did.

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