I love to take my dog to the dog park. There's a huge and beautiful park in east Flagstaff along US Highway 89 that Chester and I have begun to frequent. He runs around for an hour, I read and get some sun on my legs. There's few things I love more than throwing on shorts and a t-shirt and spending time with my little man on a warm day.

So as Chester and I are making our way back to the car, the last thing I want is a stranger to stop me and tell me, "My legs look fucking hot." Because as this man approached me, I grabbed at the mace on my keyring. I turned the safety lock off and had my thumb ready on the trigger, just in case. I looked around and made sure others were in sight so if I screamed, I would be heard. He asked to shake my hand, he told me his name, asked if I was married and where I lived. He wanted to know what time I normally came to this park and on what days. He wanted to see me again as he continued to give me unwanted stares and told me that he loved my legs. All my defenses were on guard and I was preparing myself in case I needed to show him that I would not be a target.

The scariest part about all of this is that I was trying to be overly nice. It's one thing to be hit on by someone you don't know, but a lot of times I fear that if I don't say "thank you" or "nice to meet you," that I could be hurt. At any moment, the stranger in front of you could pull a gun or a knife, or whatever else they may be carrying around in their deep trouser pockets. Having to be nice in order to avoid angering them and giving them the idea that you enjoy the unwanted attention, isn't a game I want to partake in.

I am far from a feminist and don't normally go on about these things but what happened to respect? If you ask me how my day is or tell me I'm beautiful, you will get a genuine smile in return. The minute anyone starts objectifying me for the parts of my body that aren't hidden away, is the moment that I begin to feel unsafe and violated.

I'm not saying anything that hasn't already been said but it occurred to me today how upsetting the whole thing is. Men or women should never be made uncomfortable or fear that they're in danger just because someone else doesn't understand the meaning of being a decent human being.

I don't know when this kind of interaction became a norm that people had to prepare themselves for. I shouldn't have to walk through a park, surrounded by parents with their children in broad daylight, and be afraid that something detrimental could happen just because someone else thinks that kind of disgusting behavior is okay.

Just because I am a young girl who goes out without wearing a burka, does not make me a target.
Women should be allowed to wear what they want and go about their lives without being afraid that they will become a victim; the same goes for men. Never should anyone, male or female, be afraid to be who they are due to the fact that other people in this world don't know how to treat human beings like human beings. Respect yourself, respect others and don't ever be afraid to stand up for yourself. Nobody deserves to be treated like their body is the only thing that defines them or that their worth is solely found in the parts of their bodies that others can ogle at.