In the wake of yesterday’s post, and the discussion that has been banging around about women’s safety on our streets, there has been an outpouring on Twitter of women discussing their means of staying ‘safe’ while out and about.
@clementine_ford i walk alone a lot. i usually tuck my hair away, keep eyes down, in a way hiding my femininity. makes me feel safer..
— ali (@ali_gay) September 27, 2012
@clementine_ford If I caught a bus at night I would wait till the other passengers got off first so that they were not walking behind me.
— ~violets~ (@msheelclicker) September 27, 2012
@clementine_ford “Call me when you get home safe” to the last friend in the cab so the driver knows she won’t go missing unnoticed.
— Gemma(@gemmacaf) September 27, 2012
@clementine_ford My friend and I text each other our taxi driver’s ID. It lets us know when the other left/should be home/was last seen.
— Shell (@Miss_Fez) September 27, 2012
@clementine_ford carry a personal alarm, walk against the traffic& on lit streets, phone always charged, text/call when on way home w ETA.
— Stephanie Peatling (@srpeatling) September 27, 2012
And so on.
This is all terrible, obviously. As I wrote yesterday, women have the right not to be terrified while they’re out and about. But, as I also said, there really isn’t all THAT much reason to be afraid.
We take risks in every small action we make every day. Get in the car? Could crash. Fly to Sydney? Could crash. Buy sushi? Could get food poisoning. Use a mobile? Could (maybe, maybe, maybe) get a tumour down the line. Smoke a cigarette? Cancer. Pop an E on a big night? Might be bad, and ODs aren’t pleasant.
The thing is, people (women too) take these risks on a daily basis, without MacGyver-ing up some protective solution. It’s fear of MEN that lead to this kind of crossing-the-street behaviour.
Then I read this piece, equal parts moving and terrifying. Money quote:
When you approach me in public, you are Schrödinger’s Rapist. You may or may not be a man who would commit rape.
If this is truly the attitude women take to every man they encounter, then there is a serious, serious problem. Again, I want to reinforce that women don’t have THAT much to fear. Sure, the stat in the above piece that one in 60 men are rapists may or may not be true, I’m not digging around data to verify something so unverifiable. But assuming it is, they most certainly do NOT go about raping each and every woman they lay eyes on.
The odds of attack are still small. I completely understand why women feel afraid (as discussed yesterday), but reading these kinds of things is starting to make me feel icky.
I’m not a rapist. The vast majority of men are not rapists. The odds that the men who ARE rapists are going to rape you is small. So why am I going to walk down the street to buy beer tonight feeling disgusted with myself; that every woman I walk past is considering me to be in some likelihood a violent sex offender?
It’s true that woman have it pretty rough when it comes to notions of safety. Fathers and the media, in particular, reinforce the notion that women need to be fearful at all times. But can we just lay off the idea that the solution is to be afraid of every man you come across?