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Jessica Ensley - Columnist

Lean In Further: Women are not respected for voicing their (valid) opinions

To all the women reading this: Your opinions are valid. You do not have to apologize for expressing yourself, no matter if it’s through kindness or anger. 

My last column discussing how the friend-zone doesn’t exist got some critiques via social media. Not surprisingly, they all came from men. Our society does not respect women who have opinions and express them openly. More specifically, some men feel it’s their duty to mock, harass or even threaten women if they disagree with their opinion.

A quick disclaimer: I get it. It’s “not all men.” The mere fact that I have to state that is annoying. Men can talk openly about women and there is no attack on them. Yet when I discussed something that is a socially acceptable behavior for men to do, people were angry I was “generalizing” men, even though I never stated it was something all men do. Men can reference things women do and are not labeled as “women-haters.” Why is it that a woman cannot critique something that is common acceptable behavior for men without being labeled as a man-hater?

A photo of my column, which has my face on it, was posted in the app Unseen last week, stating that I was a “sexist man-hater” (I felt so honored and it is now my new profile picture on Facebook). The comments on the app — there were more than 80 — stated that no one must want to have sex with me, leading me to become a mean, angry feminist who has opinions.

Only people who are sexist try to disprove a woman’s opinions by stating she’s mad because no one wants to have sex with her. They’re stating my only value as a person is the potential sex I can give to men. This mindset that women who have opinions need to be silenced has got to stop. Females in the gaming world are receiving rape threats from men using the hashtag GamerGate for speaking out about misogyny within the gaming world.

In our own backyard, Student Senate President Megan Marzec has been experiencing rape and death threats since she spoke out about our university’s relationship with Israel. She told me she receives countless emails and is approached by people who want to tell her how much they despise her when walking around on campus. She said she even received a death threat from a man when waiting in line at Chipotle.

Last year when then-Student Senate President Nick Southall posted a slut-shaming tweet, he got critiqued for it by students and faculty alike. He did not, however, deal with death and rape threats or have to be offered protective housing for his safety. Some might argue that the two situations are not comparable, but I disagree. It clearly shows how angry people get when a woman says something they do not agree with compared to when a man does. Regardless of your stance on an issue, no one should be made to feel unsafe for expressing their views.

To all the women reading this: Your opinions are valid. You do not have to apologize for expressing yourself, no matter if it’s through kindness or anger. You’re allowed to have feelings. You’re allowed critique the way society views you and everyone else.

Jessica Ensley is a senior studying journalism. Email her at

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