We live in a deranged and evil world. That’s just part of life. God created perfection and we royally messed that up. So we’re stuck with a fallen world full of sin and pain and oppression. Part of that is fear, especially fear of our fellow humans.
I do my best not to walk alone, especially at night. I don’t look at my phone when walking. When I get in my car I don’t sit there for very long, I start the engine and drive away. I try to be friendly but not too friendly to most people I meet or pass while working or just outside my home. I think about what I wear, is it too revealing? Is it going to draw attention to me? I think about the guy who smiled politely in Walmart, is he a potential stalker? Did our one moment of eye contact cause him to fixate on me? Will he follow me to my car? To my house? I consider every flirtatious comment I hear. Was it serious or playful? Was the wink just added for effect or does it mean this guy might push me farther?
These are things I, as a woman, am trained to think about and consider on a daily basis. Everyone I come in contact with is a possible threat to my safety. Not even just men, women will lure other women into dangerous situations as well. But for the most part, I have to see men as a threat.
No, not all men are rapists. Not all men are going to attack women. Not all men are terrible people. Not all men.
But some men. Some men.
See, it’s that uncertainty that terrifies me. After all, statistically, I’m more likely to be attacked by someone I know, someone I trust, a friend, a relative, than a stranger. Which ones though? On the news the family always says, “I didn’t think he was capable of this!” And “He was such a smart, kind man!” So now I have to worry about everyone.
Okay, full disclosure, every man makes me nervous if I am alone with them and I’ll admit that includes my family, my friends, my pastor, my co-workers, etc. There is ALWAYS the thought in the back of my mind, ‘I am vulnerable.’
I’m not even being that paranoid here!
I asked many of my female friends: How often do you think about your personal safety?
Of just over ten women, all but two answered daily. DAILY. Some said many times a day: often. When they’re alone (in a parking lot, at home, outside, on campus). When they see something a bit suspicious. When it’s dark outside. One friend elaborated that they’re specifically afraid of being around men and that she’s gotten her pocketknife out when a man happened to be behind her on a walk. The two women who said they did not think about safety daily said they didn’t because either they felt protected with their dogs and pepper spray or they said they’d lived in so many dangerous situations before that they had a silent confidence.
Then I (and my sister) asked some male friends the same question.
The consensus was that they rarely thought about personal safety. When they’re driving or at work sometimes. One man said he never thinks about his safety when in a familiar place like his home. If they’re alone in a big city they would think about their safety. Those kind of things.
Can we all see the differences here? Can we see how women are afraid? Every. Single. Day. And men are generally just… Not? They’re worried about situations that are dangerous for everyone: driving, work related accidents, cities. Women are afraid of the dark because they don’t know who might be lurking in it.
I didn’t have a strong opinion on the recent Women’s March beyond that I did disagree with some of the official political/social stances. There was quite a bit on my newsfeed asking what rights women didn’t already have. Yes, women can vote, drive, work, etc. It’s really great here compared to other countries. But saying someone else has it worse doesn’t discount that we should be doing better. As a woman, I should have the right to feel reasonably safe in my own home and workplace. Yet, I don’t.
So yeah, there’s more equality to fight for here. But so much of it is social. It’s a long game now. Women will be afraid, especially of men, until… I actually have no idea what can fix this. It’s so ingrained in our culture. I can’t say ‘until most men don’t victimize women’ because that’s not accurate. Most men don’t victimize women. But women are more often victimized by men.
I think about this a lot. And it’s not fair. It’s not fair that I grow up in fear while my brother, in the same house, grows up in confidence and assurance. It’s not fair that I have to be afraid or risk rape, pain, humiliation, and hey even death. It’s not fair I have to warn my little sister about not walking alone. It’s not fair that women are given pepper spray for their birthdays. It’s not fair that I feel I have to treat every man like a rapist. It’s not fair to me. It’s not fair to the men around me (except, of course, those who ARE terrible people).
Usually I try to have some kind of call to action or purpose to my posts. I guess this purpose is just more or less awareness. If you’re a woman then none of this is new to you. If you’re a man, maybe it’s helped you understand why women still feel like they’re not equal. It’s all this. There are fears that men may never think about in their whole life time. It doesn’t stop for us. From small children we are raised to fear and when we are grown we have no reason to stop.