I attend uni in the city on Monday and Wednesday nights. Usually, I drive from work and park at a suburb that’s 10 minutes from home and 30 from work and catch the train to uni. It’s just easier. Anyway, this Wednesday, I actually had training in the inner west so I decided to take public transport all the way from that said suburb close to home. It’s a very safe suburb and is the same one my gym is located in. I had to park a bit further away from the station though, given it was an all day thing. When I finished uni and got back at 10 p.m., I walked to my car. To do that, I had to walk through a park. And I noticed something interesting. I noticed that I was even more fearful than I’d ever been since coming to Australia.
It’s a fear I know. I had it for years in India if I was on the streets by myself. This Wednesday, as I was walking to my car with my key in my hand, I made sure they were held in way that I could stab someone in the eye if needed. I also had my phone ready in my other hand. Unlike a few of the men I’d seen disembark the same train, I didn’t listen to my iPod. Instead, I just focussed on walking quickly and listening intently.
I finally relaxed after getting into my car and locking the doors.
I hate this. I hate having to be fearful in a safe neighbourhood. I hate that while a large part of me knows I have every right to be there at that hour, I still feel that fear that someone might try and assault me. After all, aren’t rapists getting the message that a woman walking by herself is inviting to be assaulted? Sure, the people who pass on this message retract it after backlash and emails by feminists, but it’s obvious that the mentality exists.
It angers me that as women, we are pretty much trained since we can walk and talk, to be hypervigilant. But the more the crimes increase, the more messages that are passed that we are at fault, the worse we end up feeling. The thing is, it’s not just on the streets. I have female clients afraid of going to school, afraid of being in certain classes because they have had boys feel them up or call them ‘sluts’ or just pass lewd remarks. You know why? Because the boys think they can get away with it. And they do. Try challenging a vulnerable 14 year old’s belief that she is to blame when boys treat her this way. It’s hard to do when society is telling her that her belief is correct. That she is to blame. That she needs to live in fear.
I’d love to see a day when women can be less fearful.
For today, I just want to share a video I came across while working on one my assignments for uni. It’s Clementine Ford talking about gender inequality.
What about you? Do you find that you are a lot more fearful when out alone than before?
Until next time,