I was raised to become a strong, independent woman. I am strong, but I am reckless; I am independent, but I am also somewhat incapable of asking for help. I am that kind of girl who you will see carrying heavy boxes around, even if she has chronic back pain; that will just complain out loud it in hopes that someone will feel compelled to help, but won’t ask directly. I am that girl who walks alone at night.
Recently, I have observed how my friends react to me walking back home at night. My female friends will offer to walk with me, or ask me if someone is walking me home, with concerned expressions. If they can’t accompany me, they will insist on a reassuring text upon my safe arrival home.
Yes, I can tipsily defend myself, wearing high heels and in the darkness.
Hanging out with boys is different. If my group of male friends asks me if I can walk alone at night, the answer is a straight, cocky yes. Yes, I feel powerful. Yes, I can tipsily defend myself, wearing high heels and in the darkness. I’ve been raised to face the challenges of the world, but how can I face the challenges of the night all by myself?
I feel uneasy, and yet I feel proud that my male friends consider me capable of walking home without them backing me up as bodyguards. However, just like any other human being, I have limitations. I know them, and it frustrates me, knowing that the fact that I haven’t been assaulted yet is not because of my safety precautions, but just mere luck.
We feel safe with pepper sprays and whistles, with keys between our knuckles, or even armed with forks in our backpacks. Anything that gives us a sense of control on the streets. We, as strong independent women, have been taught to take precautions, to never walk alone, distrust strangers, always be on your guard. The reality is this: sometimes that’s not even enough. And it’s not your fault. Nor all those innocent men who have been stigmatized with these sorts of abuses.
I don’t want to lose my faith in people.
I don’t want to lose my faith in people. I detest this constant suspicion that hounds every girl. I want to believe in the goodness of mankind. But I am realistic; I read and listen to the news, know the statistics, and have consoled close friends about their own traumatic experiences.
As I walk at night, like any other girl in the world, I balance all the possibilities, the dangers, and the likely outcomes. If I am attacked, I can run, I can shout, I can defend myself. I can bite, scratch and kick. But even as a strong, independent woman, I know my luck may one night run out.
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