Allow me to preface this post by saying that, at the moment, I am very sick. Hopped up on pills that aren't working, with a brain full of fuzzy, confused clouds. So if anything I type fails to make any sense whatsoever, please - keep that in mind. Because this time, this time, I have an excuse.
Ah hell, one more preface: to know what planted this subject in my head (though in many ways it always is), you can read this. It's a blog post written by a woman who shared a personal story about a terrifying experience on public transit, and what most women go through regularly.
Sometimes, as a woman, I am afraid..
It can be hard for some men to understand this. As the post I linked to above said, even the most wonderful, kind, and caring men will never quite comprehend it. But the truth is that it is very common for us to be involved in less-than-positive interactions with men who aren't so kind and wonderful.
I don't often speak publicly about these experiences. They are often too personal, or too numerous to even bother mentioning - and that in itself is a problem. I wrote long ago about the cabbie who locked me in his car and grabbed me and kissed me. I've blogged about the guys who would follow me home when I lived in the Village, screaming obscenities at me and waiting outside my door. But there are others. There are always others.
The majority of women have stories of being victimized in some way or another. It's a sad truth. And it is because of this that we may feel less than safe when alone. Case in point - last night, I took my dog for a walk before bed as I always do. My street (in what would be considered a safe neighbourhood, I should mention) was empty, dark. Except for a man sitting alone on the curb, staring at me. He did nothing but stare, and yet it frightened me. Because sometimes, that's how it starts. Just a certain look, and you know this person may have bad intentions. Past experiences have truly ruined me in that respect.
Now I've lived alone for quite awhile now. I'm a tough chick, I can take care of myself and I do. But I've also changed some of my behaviours due to being alone. For example, if I'm going out with friends and I find out that I have to travel by myself before meeting others, I may swap my cute little dress and heels for jeans and a pair of Chucks - just to try to avoid unwanted attention that could turn negative. Sometimes blending into the background feels safer.
It shouldn't have to be that way. It just is.
Yes, we're all used to catcalls. Cars honking as we pass by. Whistles, hollers, all of it. We're used to it because we have no choice. And, for the most part, they are harmless. But not all of them. I have enough personal stories to make even a honk give me a moment's pause. I'll bet the women reading this do too.
So, to those who may laugh and say we're being silly when we feel a bit apprehensive or afraid, please don't. Because we have our reasons for it. And they are very, very real.