I’ve had a lot going on this year and I’ve really struggled to post anything and my blog is looking bare but something happened to me today and I want to write a message to everyone. This is aimed at everyone, the seasoned fashion blogger, the prospective philosophers, the nomads – whether you may be 11 or 101, whether you identify as male, female, bi-gender, third gender or transgender.
I am a woman. That’s an accurate representation of what I actually AM. That’s what I am and always be, right? I am a woman, disregard my education, my humor, my passion for caring, my sometimes – very- short temper, my ability to speak another language, my loving family, my zest for life, my ability to be positive even during difficult times, my piggy snort when I laugh, my dreams and aspirations, my fears, my challenges with anxiety, my doubtfulness, my insecurity in social situations, my wariness of strangers – of strange men.
The sun sets at 8:30pm where I live. It’s 7:50 and I’m changing clothes for my imminent run. I stop and deliberate; do I save the run until tomorrow so that it will be daylight and I will be safer from any potential harm? Or do I live my life, not in fear, but run my usual run as I always do and take the risk. I chose the latter.
During my run it became dark. I was approached by a man. He was dressed in red and black. He appeared out of nowhere in the darkness of the field. He followed me. There was no one else around. I was scared. He was empowered. He tried to get my attention by cornering me. I ran away.
I am lucky as I fortunately did not have to “learn” the hard way. I rang my partner in hysterics and was terrified and felt alone and scared. I wasn’t “me”, this fun caring person, on the contrary I was self loathing. My partner was trying to reconcile me by reassuring me that it could have been worse and that now I knew to not run late in the evening.
And then he said something that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.
“I can’t imagine a life of having to make decisions based on the fear of being a vulnerable woman to attackers”.
I suddenly realized, what I heard so much through my life as a woman, but nothing ever hit me as hard as what my partner had just said.
Yes I am a woman, but that is just my label. I am a human being. Like your mum, like your sister, like your niece or your daughter. Why have I, and so many other women like me become conditioned, repeatedly in our lives, to plan our life around the fear and worry of being a victim.
Why did I pause before I left the house in consideration of the fear of being attacked? Why is it that men don’t have this so called “fear”, imagine needing to go to the shop at night but being so crippled in thoughts of being followed or attacked that you either don’t go and wait until the next day, or do go and have creeping paranoia follow you around?
Why is it that my first thought when I returned home safe that I had “learned my lesson the easy way” not to run again in the evening. Why is it fair that women are forced to base their day-to-day activities on whether there will be safety in numbers or the risk of partaking in normal activities that many men taker for granted? Why is not getting harassed or attacked “the easy way” why is that the consolation prize.Why am I even considering a man approaching me and propositioning me but not attacking me a “to be thankful” moment? What would the hard way be? And would I have learned that all important lesson? Is there really any lesson to be learned when it’s not even a woman’s fault, she wasn’t asking to be raped or attacked, but maybe next time she will KNOW not to walk on her own. Because this means that walking on your own means the WOMAN is liable and SHE put this on herself.
All i could think about all evening was how stupid I had been. How have I allowed society to teach me to punish myself for running late at night because people are monsters. Why have I now convinced myself not to run again, in fear I may encounter him again. I am fortunate, even if that is contradictory to what I have been saying, but I am. Well at least that’s what society has told me. I am lucky. The women who have been sexually assaulted are not so lucky. The constant fear, anxiety, sleepless nights and life long scars. But then again it was their own fault, they’ve learned their “lesson” and as I have learned from my peers and from generations, and as I will do and have done, women will continue to teach this “lesson”.