A couple nights ago, while walking two long city blocks to my car after dark on a fairly well-traveled but still less savory street, some shenanigans happened.
I was initially walking behind two men who stood shoulder to shoulder. They were walking slow and I had no room to pass them, so I walked slowly behind them. The two men stopped, and stood on either side of the sidewalk, and looked at me. “You go on ahead, sweetheart. We won’t rape you.”
“Thanks,” I muttered, and passed between them.
I got a couple feet in front of them and then heard, “Not that we don’t want to.” My blood simultaneously froze in fear and boiled in rage. The two men then proceeded to talk about how girls like me make them want to do things. Some pretty awful things. They were speaking very loudly, meaning for me to hear it.
I wanted to turn around and tell them what fuckasses they were being. But more than that, I didn’t want to let them know I was afraid, that they had gotten to me. I didn’t want to provoke them from thoughts to actions. Which just made me more angry. By the time I got to my car, I was too angry to be scared, which I was thankful for. I’d rather be angry.
But now I’m back to having that fear. I have to make the same walk again tonight, and it’s enough to make me dread going to my nightly activity. And then I get angry again, that these fuckasses and their threats make me think of canceling my plans for the sake of personal safety. Today I wore my shitty brown shoes. I hate these shoes. But my other shoes weren’t good for running or kicking or jumping if it came to that.
I don’t deal with this every day, thankfully. There are people out there with much thicker skins than me, who have built up mental callouses from repeated events like this and worse. There are women who will see this as a cakewalk compared to what they go through. And that makes me angry. That we have to balance being afraid for our own personal safety with getting shit done that we need to do. That we’re made to get used to this awful stuff because it could be worse.
This paranoia is a result from being in a culture that says it’s my responsibility to avoid getting raped. The fear that if I get attacked and show up at the police station in heels and cute clothes and tell them where I was walking after dark, that I’ll be written off. That if I do certain things, or don’t do certain things, it’ll be a stroke against my case. The fear that confronting these fuckasses will be seen as asking for it if something happens to me, that not confronting them will be seen as allowing them to do what they want.
This is spinning in my mind, driving me nuts.
You want to know what terrorism is, it isn’t just bombs and guns. It’s this everyday little stuff. These constant little reminders of the million ways I’m powerless against certain scenarios. They way it worms into your psyche, pings your imagination in all the worst ways.
Geez, I didn’t mean to write so much, but it’s bothering me a lot. >:(
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