I don’t want to live like this. I don’t want to live in fear.
I don’t want to live in fear of every person who comes to the door. The plumber, the electrician, the cable guy. The mailman, the FedEx driver who comes to drop off a package on the front steps. The new neighbor coming down the street to say a simple “hello”.
From a young age, we’re taught to be wary of strangers. Of anyone we might not know. We’re told to keep our distance. To constantly be aware, and on alert. To make eye contact. To not make eye contact. To walk with confidence towards our destination – never wavering, never hesitating, never giving anyone a “reason” to pick us out as a future victim.
The truth is – we’re vulnerable. No matter how quick, no matter how strong, we’re still vulnerable.
You’ve heard the stories – in the newspaper, on the ten o’ clock news, on those emails that your mom, your Grandma, your best friend forwards on to you. Horror stories of women being drugged unknowingly and then being taken from store parking lots. Of men dressing up and pretending to be policemen in order to pull women over on the side of the road. How do you know who to believe? Who to trust? The latest schemes involve men sneaking into the backseat of women’s cars as they fill up their cars at the gas pump. When will this end?
Because of our gender, we must constantly think about how to be safe. Fear proscribes how and where we live, where we walk, where we park, where we sleep, eat and travel. As women, we know there are some things we cannot — or rather, should not — do, some places we should not go. We’ve seen the movies, we’ve read the articles, we know the statistics. The media is our collective storyteller and the story it tells us over and over again is that there is no safe place — not on the roads where we drive, on the streets where we walk, not even in the house where we live. We feel at risk because we are. PBS
We’re taught to continually look over our shoulder to make sure there are no strangers looming in the distance. We’re told to take our keys out early while walking through a parking lot or parking garage towards our car. To always have an arm open, a free hand – always needing to be ready to protect ourselves.
What’s it like to be me? My dad will never know. Neither will my brother. They don’t get why I often refuse to answer the door when I’m home alone. They’re allowed the privilege to go for a run at night through the park, to walk down the street alone at night with little fear of being attacked. They don’t get it. It’s not what they’ve been taught.
But my mom? My sister? My closest friends? They know. Because they’re living the same reality.