“Fight Like A Girl,” the letters on my shirt proudly proclaim to the world.

“Do you like it?” I ask my friend. She nods, laughing at the cartoon Sailor Moon weapons that accompany the inscription. “Boy, I just hope I don’t get shot today!” I joke. Her laughter stops. A genuine trickle of fear seeps into her voice as she asks, “That’s not going to happen … right?”

As most people at U of T will have heard, broad violent threats surfaced online earlier this month, particularly (but not exclusively) aimed at staff and students of the Women and Gender Studies, and Sociology departments. The post, which appeared anonymously on multiple forums, encourages anti-feminists to rent machine guns to kill all of the “slutty women.” While an email sent out by Professor Cheryl Regehr, the vice-president and provost of the university, claims that the school is taking all precautionary measures to ensure student safety, one can’t help but wonder what’s really being done. While an increase in campus security has been boasted at all three campuses, none of the added personnel will be armed, and their training in neutralizing a heavily-armed shooter is questionable.

So, as the implicit target, how do women feel about the situation?

After asking around, it was obvious that opinions differed.

Some seemed hesitant to draw any more attention to themselves than necessary, preferring safety to a defiant, but potentially risky, declaration of their beliefs.  Others seemed to think that that would be buying right into the threateners’ plans.

“By lying low, we’re essentially just giving them what they want,” one student said. “They want the feminists to disappear, and simply by threatening us, they’ve already succeeded for the most part.”

However, another student thought that unfair, saying, “That makes it seem as though valuing personal safety in the midst of a possible crisis makes us bad feminists. It’s not about good feminism versus bad feminism; if someone feels unsafe in a situation, he or she should be allowed to put his or her own safety first. Personally,” she added, “I'd want women to keep themselves out of harm's way by not emblazoning ‘feminist’ across their chests during a time where they could potentially get hurt for it.”

When you consider both sides of the situation, it’s easy to empathize with the women involved in this debate. Wanting to stay true to one’s beliefs but being afraid of possible consequences  is a feeling many of us can relate to.

Something that most students can more easily agree on is that the university seems to not be putting enough stress on the situation, suggesting that it might take a genuine incident occurring before they take these threats more seriously. Meanwhile, a particularly select few believe this to be a rather twisted ad campaign for the gun-renting gang  mentioned in the post. One thing’s for sure, though: for the sake of the feminists at U of T, I sincerely hope it’s the latter that’s true.

comments powered by Disqus