I came across this tweet in the trending section of Twitter a while back:
I thought the question was silly and quickly disregarded it. I’m not usually one to think of myself as afraid of men or limited because I am a woman. Being a woman hasn’t rendered me incapable.
But I kept coming back to the question or, more so, the answers. Here are a few replies that caught my attention:
I wasn’t surprised by the answers because I’ve heard how women feel before (and, again, because I am a woman). If men were tucked into their beds at 9 p.m., of course women would feel like they could frolic in a field at night. Duh.
What surprised me was how much I genuinely agreed with their replies.
Being a woman has rarely felt limiting to me. I don’t think of men as an obstacle. While aware of dangerous men and women, I’ve had no problem walking around Portland alone at night. I don’t feel like I am in constant danger past 9 p.m. but this simple question on Twitter helped me realize that, although I may not be in danger, I am constantly vigilant of potential dangers.
When I turned 16, I got my first job and my first female safety lesson. Knowing I would be leaving work after dark, my mother advised me to park under a streetlight and to walk to my car with a coworker or ask a manger to walk me out. Someone else told me to hold my car key in between my fingers as a makeshift weapon. Someone else told me to carry mace. Someone else told me not to wear a “grabbable” hairstyle (e.g. ponytail). Someone else told me to shine a light in my car to make sure no one was hiding in the back seat. Someone else told me to lock my car door immediately after getting in. Someone else told me not to sit and pick out what song I wanted to listen to because I would be a sitting duck. Someone else gave me brass knuckles disguised as a keychain accessory.
All this for working at an Italian restaurant in the suburbs.
On the contrary, my brother, who began working in industrial inner east Portland around the same time, was not given any safety advice (though he told me he prefers to park in busier areas).
Looking back, it feels like every person who gave me a safety tip was telling me I wasn’t safe from men. Perhaps, my current illusion of personal safety comes from simultaneously practicing ten different safety tips.
Would I feel safer if men had a 9 p.m. curfew? Yes.
I am not asking men to stay indoors after 9 p.m. because I do not hate men. I do not think all men are out to harm me. But I do think I am more at risk around men than I am women.
Since coming across the curfew question, I’ve taken note every time I alter my walking route to go through a different part of town or when I notice a man is walking behind me and I feel the need to remember what he looks like/what he is wearing/what time it is “just in case.”
I don’t feel helpless, but I obviously don’t feel safe.
The 9 p.m. curfew brought up this question: why do we focus most of our efforts on teaching women safety tips when we could be teaching men not to endanger women? How do we keep men from forcing their will on innocent women? How can we prevent crimes against women?
I have been angry and frustrated. I continue to hear about violence against women and live with the repercussions of a world where women are easily victimized. I understand there are places in the world where women are in more danger. There were times in history where women were more restricted–yet none of this excuses current violent behavior.
If we live in a society where a male curfew would make women would feel safer, what changes can we be making? Could everyone just stop endangering women???
If only such a simple solution were easy to implement amongst broken people in broken societies.
So, what can you be doing to help women be safer and feel safer? Where do you start? How can you help? How can you use your voice to elicit change? What communities can you affect? Who are you setting examples for? Are there injustices happening that you can stop or prevent?
Keep your eyes and ears open. Listen to what women are saying and engage in healthy diaglogue. If you want to start now, let’s talk. If you have a comment or question, you can leave it on this very blog. If you have hate mail, you can hang on to it. If you have chocolate chip cookies, email them to me ASAP.
This is the part where I tell you what I have been enjoying content-wise. Because this is a cool post about women, I will be featuring exclusively women #GirlPower.
- Sweetener – Ariana Grande – Goodness gracious have I been sleeping on this album. My friend chastised me for ignoring Grande’s latest genius and she was correct. Grande blends pop, trap, and Broadway genres while discussing loss, love, and anxiety. After every song, I was like, “Thank u, next.”
- The Bus on Thursday – Shirley Barrett – I am in a cool, two-person book club and this was our first read. The Bus on Thursday falls into both comedy and horror genres. I was laughing and terrified and literally have no idea what happened at the end. Please read it so I can discuss with as many people as possible.
- Women from History Blog – Anne Foster – History textbook meets Keeping Up with the Kardashians. I found this neat blog via the magic of wordpress. Foster details the lives of forgotten/misunderstood women in history with humor and expertise. Read up here.
- Mari Andrew – I’ve been following Mari Andrew on Instagram for a couple of years. She is a writer and illustrator who has a way of pinpointing emotional experiences in a way that makes me feel like she has just read my brain. Check out her delightful work here!
- Boygenius – Three women making indie rock join forces to create a critically acclaimed album for the rainy soul. I’m ready to recede into Oregon winter now.
- SPICE GIRLS – SPICE GIRLS ARE GOING ON TOUR #SPICEUPYOURLIFE