Several years ago, while on a morning run I passed a man on my route and felt something was off, something internally whispered “danger.” I decided not to run down towards the woods as I normally would and instead stayed close to the busy road. I’m glad I trusted my instincts, because the next thing I knew, that man was behind me, hot on my trail. He grabbed my arms and started dragging me towards the woods. He forced me to the ground on my stomach and all I could think about was my unborn baby in my belly.
I told him I was pregnant and begged him to leave me alone. A woman in a passing car saw something was wrong and stopped and laid on her horn. It scared the attacker, who cursed and ran off. When police found my assailant, he had already attacked two other women and been linked to campus assaults in another state. He was sentenced to 18 years in prison and is now a registered sex offender.
Although I was left physically battered that day, I wasn’t raped. And it is likely because I listened to my instincts warning me to be on guard.
Our nation is grappling with efforts by the Obama administration to force public bathrooms to be open to members of the opposite sex. The administration issued a letter directing the over 10,000 school districts in our country to allow males into girls’ locker rooms, showers and restrooms. The Justice Department sued North Carolina over a law that protected privacy at schools, colleges, and government buildings while allowing businesses to decide their own policy.
It is dangerous and careless to change natural assumptions of safety and privacy without counting the costs. For good reason, the assumption has always been that a biological male is not supposed to be in a female restroom or locker room. A woman encountering a man in a female facility would immediately recognize that something was off and that she should take steps to protect herself — whether that means running away or notifying management. That intuition can mean the difference between life or death. It is the same intuition I felt on my run.
But as a result of opening our restrooms to males, women are being told to ignore their intuition when they see a man in their restroom. In fact, if they act on it, they would face being labeled as bigots or worse. Let’s be clear, this has nothing to do with people who identify as transgender but instead with the real issue of sexual predators seeking to gain access to vulnerable women and children.
The dangers are serious. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) reports that there are 843,260 registered sex offenders in the United States and its territories. The Bureau of Justice reported in 2003 that 5 percent of sex offenders were rearrested for another sex crime within three years of prison release. That means over 42,000 sex offenders will commit another sex offense within three years of release. Sexual predators will take advantage of laws and policies that allow men into women’s restrooms. They have no qualms using political correctness to achieve their evil goals. And any policy that makes it easier for predators is terrible policy.
Women must never feel shame or discomfort for expressing valid concerns over a biological male or anyone else from whom they feel threatened. Businesses and institutions must also understand that they will be held liable for dismissing our concerns.
Fortunately, women are speaking out. Victims of sexual assault in private spaces like fitting rooms, locker rooms, and bathrooms have bravely shared their story on www.safebathrooms.org.
Whether it is a young girl in a public school or her mom at a Target store, women need to know that it is okay to question a man’s presence in their restrooms. But by changing the assumptions that men have no business being in women’s facilities, we are telling women to ignore their intuition — the very thing that may save them from being the next victim of sexual assault.
Penny Nance is the President and CEO of Concerned Women for America and author of “Feisty and Feminine: A Rallying Cry for Conservative Women”