Every college girl across the country knows the feeling. Your head is throbbing, and you look around to find that you need to just get the heck out of there before anyone sees you. The party dress that you looked so hot in reeks of alcohol and shame, and now all you can think about is the fact that you have to walk home in those horrible three-inch heels. Slowly you tiptoe outside, leaving your hook-up from the previous night to enjoy his dreams. And thus, as you slowly close the door and enter into the cold morning air, you make your journey into the next infamous college episode: the Walk of Shame.

Now, there’s no way to glamorize this experience. Frankly, it just feels gross. The fact is a woman gets way too drunk and ends up hooking up with a guy she thought was hella hot stuff the night before. They end up spending the night together and then she’s either let out like a dog the next morning or sneaks out like a thief in the night. For many women, it’s traumatic. A million questions hammer through her head, “why” being the worse. A lot of my girlfriends who have experienced this sexual rite of passage (as it seems) have found ways to compromise the situation, calling it empowering and just another night of fun where a girl can satisfy her needs without any emotional attachment. This progressive kind of woman would rather not have anything to do with the guy afterwards, and the Walk of Shame is more aptly to be turned into a walk of triumph. She is prepared and knows to use protection or birth control, and has no qualms about redefining gender norms.

Unfortunately, the stigma of drunken abuse by men against unassuming women still exists, and though some may argue it was consensual, the Walk of Shame for women is often terrifying and embarrassing; something of which no guy will ever understand.

The next morning is a struggle to think that even with protection there could be that one percent chance of anything from an STD to even worse, pregnancy. (I recall that the movie Mean Girls said it gracefully: “If you have sex, you will get pregnant, and DIE!”) Because that Walk of Shame doesn’t end when you get back to your dorm room or apartment. It goes all the way to that local CVS on the corner, and $50 later having to secretly take a Plan B pill that, at the very least, will calm your nerves.

Still there are other things a girl has to worry about: What will my friends think? So are we more than friends? What’s next for us? Where is my jewelry? This line of questioning often goes on for days at a time. She will constantly rationalize her actions and his, and what she could have done differently to make such a terrifying, engrossing feeling go away.

It gets even worse if your hook-up was a friend that you still have to see the next day in class or at work, because the next stop on the shame train is the feeling of social awkwardness. Do you act like a buddy, like his guy friend winking in congratulatory praise because you each were able to tap that the night before? Or, do you avoid all mention of the subject matter and act oblivious like nothing happened.

Typically, most guys won’t even mention it ever again. No one knows what’s going on with them because unlike the girl, the social stigma is completely different and they were able to sleep in their own bed the whole time. How come it’s never the guy who has to leave first or has to feel the pangs of guilt and shame?

I would love to hear a man’s point of view on the subject, because this seems to be the social norm on college campuses nowadays, and a very twisted norm that girls are just forced to somehow deal with the situation and “just get over it.” If guys can only know the feeling of smeared makeup and tussled hair; the feeling of pregnancy scares and walking back to your room as people stare and glance knowingly, judging you.

The Walk of Shame never ends well and should be avoided at all costs, unless you’re prepared physically and emotionally for a cold and lonely morning.