- - Wednesday, May 4, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The purpose of a public restroom is not to make a political statement. Sex-specific facilities were designed for male and female biological differences. Safety concerns are not bigotry.

Target recently highlighted its “inclusive” policy in an announcement, opening the door for any man, regardless of appearance, to stalk women and girls. Target’s policy will invite sexual predators to its stores, exposing women and girls to men peeking through cracks, over and under doors, or waiting for their next victim. Statistical data is not necessary.

I was traveling when the controversy heated up. Using Twitter to warn others, I retweeted an article about a boycott of Target that has ensued following the new policy. Next, I read about a 29-year-old Canadian high school basketball player, and tweeted: “Perhaps he identifies as a teen.”

Fresh from self-defense training with a rented Glock .45, en route to a Wal-Mart in gun-friendly Oklahoma, I constructed another satirical tweet: “I’m taking a Glock .45 to the ladies room. It identifies as my bodyguard.”

I added #BoycottTarget” as the trending topic. Tagging @Target on the end, I intended to draw the company’s attention to women’s safety, not to imply that I would go there. If I intended to visit Target I would have said, “I’m taking a Glock .45 to the @Target ladies room,” instead of adding @Target afterwards.

Our Facebook pages and Twitter feeds filled. Within a few days, the bodyguard tweet gained national media attention, combative commentary and an interview with Alan Colmes of Fox News.

More people agreed than not. One woman messaged me: “With how ‘social media brave’ people are lately, I admire that you keep your cool, continue to be a classy adult and don’t stoop to their level.”

Others — mostly radical leftists, sex addicts and porn-crazed perverts with vulgar profiles — painted me as a vigilante who would barge into a Target with an “assault rifle,” murder a transgendered person and terrify small children. Read my tweet. I never said I was going to Target, with or without a gun. Of course, a “bodyguard” is strictly for defense. Peace through strength.

If physically attacked, I would do as I was taught in self-defense class, and only take the action necessary to stop the aggression. Nothing in my tweet shows a violent intent, notwithstanding frequent and vigorous attempts to twist my words. But truth is irrelevant to “tweet-shamers,” Facebook trolls, smut bloggers and the complicit media.

When I share my concern about sexual predators, the bullies added snarky comments and victim-blaming rape stereotypes such as, “You don’t have to worry, honey no one would touch you!”

I will not be intimidated into silence. This issue is personal.

As a teen, I was the victim of two attempted sexual assaults by strangers in public places, but I managed to escape. In my 20s, a revolver became my constant bodyguard.

Instead of panicking over the prospect of a well-armed woman, the naysayers should be up in arms about sexual assault. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that nearly 20 percent of women in the United States have been victims of actual or attempted sexual assault. And those were just the women who admit to the attacks. I predict that number will increase when sexual predators realize they have easy access to potential victims.

Target’s policies and similar laws passed by misguided government leaders endanger lives. A quick online search for “sexual assault Target store” will bring numerous accounts of crimes already happening inside the stores. It is common sense that publicity about the company’s lax policy invites additional attackers. You may open your window for fresh air, but you wouldn’t broadcast it to potential burglars.

Special rules and laws favoring those who “identify” as the opposite sex can lead to outrageous incidents. In 2012, a middle-aged man born Clay Scott Francis, who called himself “Colleen,” insisted on using the women’s locker room at Evergreen State College in Washington. He was taking estrogen but did not undergo surgery and was attracted to women.

Mr. Francis exposed himself to girls on a school swim team who practiced at the college. Their request for privacy was rejected by the administration and the girls were forced to squeeze into smaller locker room to avoid a naked man.

There are numerous other reports of men who disguised themselves and victimized women. For the safety of women, a biological male should use the men’s bathroom due to physical differences. That is the solution that will keep some women from becoming victims. It is not unreasonable discrimination.

Company policymakers and government lawmakers must not paint a bullseye on women when we are already vulnerable to sexual predators in public places. Women just want to be safe.

Anita L. Staver is president of Liberty Counsel.

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