This post is going to be a little different, so if what you want is fashion stuff perhaps this post is a waste of time for you.
But I had to write these words so I can start changing something about my own behaviour. I always find that writing helps…
So, here we go. Last chance to go look at/read something else.
I always get quite affected by news of women disappearing under suspicions of foul play. Some that touched me the most were Joanna Yeates back in the UK, Carmen Thomas in NZ, and now Jill Meagher in Australia. In all instances I feared the worst had happened to them. I felt for them and their families and found it truly painful to imagine what they went through.
This time though, it all also made me consider my own ways, think deeper into this issue.
How many times have I been nice to people I hardly new? How often did I walk home late at night on my own, thinking “oh it’s cool, there’s no need to call a taxi”? Even when my husband has asked me to take a taxi home I’m like “na, it’s all good”.
I lived on my own in Vienna when I was 24. No family, no friends in that country. I got to meet and become friends with some people but that didn’t happen overnight. For most of the time I was on my own.
I met a guy at a Starbucks once. He came up to me while I was reading my book and drinking my hot choc. I didn’t engage in much conversation and he gave up. When I was about to leave we met again at the door. It was raining and he asked if I’d like to go for some ice-cream. I was like “yeah, why not?”. I was always happy to meet new people. I was unattached, it was afternoon and he seemed nice. He was. We became and stayed friends.
Before that I lived in Lisbon. I had classes until 9pm often and was used to make the 5mn walk to the subway, and then the 5mn walk from the subway to my flat. There were some seedy-looking characters in the area but I never felt there was a problem. The times I felt more scared were when I took taxis from town! If you’ve been in a taxi in Lisbon, you’ll know what I’m talking about!
Looking back though, I think I have made some pretty dangerous decisions in these regards. I’ve gone on blind dates, stayed with people I hardly new, exchanged numbers with strangers, trusted people I only new for a day or so, enough to drop my luggage in their hotel room so we could all go out for dinner before I had to take a bus to the airport in a strange foreign city around 2 am! You get the picture…
The funny thing is, I grew up with a pretty paranoid mum and am pretty paranoid myself so whenever these things are happening I keep imagining things going south, people turning out to be something other than what they look, and preparing to kick and scream. But things have always been ok.
The only time I have felt someone intruding my personal space and being quite forceful was one morning in Vienna when I was walking to work. I lived about 20mns away and I always walked. It was very simple and straightforward. So, this one morning, there I was, minding my own business when this guy came up to me and started asking my number, just like that, the first thing he told me, and then to go for coffee with him. He wouldn’t go away and was really coming close to me, almost touching me. I felt so disrespected, so angry, that even today, writing this makes me feel disgusted.
I felt even more angry afterwards when I realised I had changed my work route just to get rid of him!
In what world did he grow up to feel that it’s ok to approach a woman like that?! (I actually know the answer to this one but don’t want to go into it as it’s a completely different issue; let’s call it cultural differences). And why did I feel so threatened that I basically ran the opposite direction?!
I was angry at myself because I don’t think women should run. I thought it showed vulnerability or weakness. Maybe this is why I make a point of walking home, of talking to strangers, of letting things roll…I don’t want men to think that women cannot walk on their own, that women are vulnerable, easy prey! In the end, I don’t want them to think that I am afraid! We have had enough of that stereotype already!
But I have been wrong, in a way…
No matter how much I despise this fact, Women are still perceived as prey by many primitive men.
And the fact still remains that, physically speaking, the majority of us will always find it difficult to fight off a bigger, stronger person.
Because my experiences never went south, I may have built a false sense of security regarding these things. In reality, I should treat each case individually but I don’t think I do.
Our brains are ready to store info to use in later events, and we pull out that knowledge when in similar circumstances. While that’s useful in many aspects of our daily lives, it is not the best response when assessing a situation with strangers.
I have to start being more aware of this and really just avoid getting myself in such situations to start with!
I don’t want to run home at night, but I don’t have to! I can walk with my friends or take a taxi!
Us XXIst century girls are used to be autonomous, independent, strong. Many of us are lucky enough to live in civilised places. Unfortunately, some men still feel we’re here as objects they can do whatever they want with.
So, girls, take a personal safety course, don’t be lenient, stick to your friends, accept nice offers to be walked home by them, take a taxi, stay safe, stay alive!