I am a feminist because when I tell people I am an actress, they ask if I’ve slept with directors, because it is so inconceivable to them that as a woman I should receive a part based on my talent and not how good I am in bed. I am a feminist because the boys that I live with think it is okay to tell me to wear a thong because my panty line makes them uncomfortable. The day I dress for a man is the day I’m dressed for Heaven. I am a feminist because when I wore a backless dress on New Year’s Eve, a man told me that it meant that I was “asking for it”, and the way he said it I knew he accepted it as a fact. I gave him the middle finger and glared at any man who leered at me that night. I am a feminist because since the age of 12 I have been told that a boy’s education is more important than my own, through the classes missed because my shoulders are showing and my shorts length is distracting the boys. I am a feminist because when I walk across campus, passing a group of boys 12 feet from my residence fills me with such terror that my feet speed up and tears burn at the corners of my eyes. I am a feminist because the first thing I do when I see a man on the street is think of all possible escape routes and take an inventory of what I can use as a weapon. I am a feminist because seeing a man stare at me through the bus window fills me with dread, not only from a fear of being attacked but because I know I will be told it was my fault for taking the bus alone. I am a feminist because statistics say 1 in 5 woman are victims of sexual assault, and that means that at least one of my baby cousins, at least one of my best friends, will be or has been assaulted and that thought makes me physically ill. I am a feminist because people still think it’s okay to ignore the problem, because the first response when I bring up the issue is “not all men”. No, not all men, but enough men that I can’t walk home alone. Every man I see is innocent or a potential rapist, and there is no in between. I am a feminist because girls are still taught that if they don’t take protective measures, the rape is their fault, and boys are never taught that just because she is a woman, does not mean she is theirs to touch. I am a feminist because feminism is about fighting for gender equality, for making the streets a safer place to be alone, for making the issue one that is discussed openly without anger. I am a feminist, and if you have a problem with that, you can go home alone tonight.