- When I was looking for apartments, I found an otherwise perfect one – except it was on the first floor. My then-boyfriend said he would have considered that a convenience, not a safety issue.
- I walk a block out of my way to my nearest subway station to avoid a man who openly harasses women from his stoop.
- I once explained to an ex-boyfriend why I wouldn’t walk down an alley as a shortcut.
I’m not alone. I think every woman on the planet goes out of her way to protect herself.
In fact a college class was asked to write about what they do to stay safe. The young women described the intricate ways they stayed alert, which also limited their access to the world. The women essentially thought about rape all the time, according to “Men Explain Things to Me” by Rebecca Solnit.
The men in the class were reportedly astonished, like the two ex-boyfriends I explained my own precautions to.
A few chapters later, Solnit tells of a university where male suspects raped female students. In response, the university told women not to go out alone after dark – or not to go out at all.
Some pranksters turned the tables by putting up posters, saying that men shouldn’t go outside after dark, so the women could walk without fear. After all, men were the suspects, why should the women be limited?
Of course the men were shocked at being asked to “disappear.” But the other way around seemed perfectly reasonable.
I don’t have the answers for how to end this. I also have a feeling I won’t after reading the last 20 pages of this book.
But on Father’s Day, I find myself especially grateful for my dad, my grandfathers, my uncles, brother, brother-in-law, cousins and friends who helped make me the woman I am today. I’m thankful I have role models who taught me how real men behave and what a lady should never, ever have to put up with.
My dad taught me to read a map, change a tire, hang sheetrock, tile a bathroom, balance my checkbook and more. My brother, Domonic, and big cousin Tony tricked me every way they could think of, so I wouldn’t fall for anyone else’s tricks.
Don’t get me wrong, the ladies in my life: My mom, grandma, aunts, sisters and friends are also strong, confident people who can clean a fish, cook Thanksgiving dinner and raise intelligent, respectful, caring sons and and daughters.
But it’s Father’s Day, a day to honor the men who were there for us. So thank you, Dad, Domonic and all for teaching me to be cautious, but not live in fear. Thank you for giving me the tools to walk confidently and not take anyone’s crap.
And while we’re at it, we can shame the jackasses who force us to subconsciously make those intricate plans to stay safe.