I’m A Straight Woman And I’m Scared To Date In Trump’s America

I have no desire to date right now because I’m afraid I’ll be murdered.

A few weeks ago, I found myself writing this:

A woman murdered in my mother’s hometown. A woman murdered in my hometown. If I have children, women will be murdered. If I don’t have children, women will be murdered.

I’m talking about Mollie Tibbetts and Celia Barquin Arozamena. 

I’m also talking about the fact that as a woman in my 30s, more and more people are asking me if I want to get married and/or have kids.

The answer to those questions is I don’t know. I don’t even feel like dating right now, and I’m not the only one.

With Trump in charge, sexist, racist, and homophobic violence seems to be growing. The President of the United States has been recorded talking about his enthusiasm for assaulting women, which has empowered abusers.

In the past month, I’ve seen more tweets about women canceling dates than ever before. The anger about the Kavanaugh vote seems to have tipped things over the edge. Plain and simple: Tolerating rape encourages potential murderers.

I know someone will point out there are women who voted for Trump and politicians like him. There are some women in this country who accept a place in a violent patriarchy. Many of these women seem to be white and/or wealthy and/or raised in conservative religions. (I would like to note that I am not an atheist, though there is obviously nothing wrong with atheism. I am opposed to people who claim “religious beliefs” as an excuse for racism, misogyny, and homophobia.)

Recently, after seeing the news about the murder of Lauren McCluskey, killed by a man she dated, I was finally able to articulate my feelings. I don’t want to go on dates: I’m afraid of being murdered.

The current state of the world has made me re-process previous bad experiences and dangerous close calls. While the #MeToo movement is absolutely necessary, it is not a celebration, it is not revenge, it is not about winning.

Some people will argue that violence is nothing new. And that’s true. The poet Kathleen Sheeder Bonanno (1956-2017) wrote a book of poems, called Slamming Open The Door, about the 2003 murder of her daughter Leidy by an ex-boyfriend. However, when I read it almost 10 years ago, it felt like art created about a rare tragedy, not the representative state of a society.

Wendy Martinez, who was murdered in September, was buried in a wedding dress. She had recently gotten engaged. How will a generation of men who have lost girlfriends and wives to the senseless violence of other men impact the country’s future? What happens to these men left reeling?

When it comes to dating, I can hear someone saying, if you meet the right person, you’ll feel differently. I might feel differently, but it will still be a fact that nearly half of all women murdered are killed by someone they are dating or married to. A few months ago, Chris Watts killed his pregnant wife and his children. Males are responsible for 96 percent of global homicides. If I met someone I was interested in, would I work through my fears and date them? Absolutely. Am I actively trying to meet someone right now? No. I have a fair amount of ex-boyfriends and experience dating, but I’ve rapidly transformed from a person who sometimes went on two first dates in a day to someone with no online dating profiles.

I know there are good men out there, but I’m scared. So for now, I will honor the women we’ve lost. I will honor their families and friends who do meaningful work despite unfathomable pain. I will reflect on the struggles that other people face.

Yes, I will work on my current dating phobia. But will you work to improve (and possibly save) the lives of American women?

Wilhelmina Jane White is a pen name of an American writer born in the ’80s. Under her real name, she has been published widely. As Wilhelmina Jane White she has previously written for The Good Men Project and Role Reboot. She will happily drink any $3 bottle of wine. She is occasionally on twitter. @Wilhelmina_J_W

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