Why I can’t Ride my Bike

An actual conversation that I just had

Me: I can’t wait to ride my bike this summer! I’m going to drive up to the bike trail all the time this summer.

Mom: “Well, I don’t think so, a lady was just raped there by four men.”

*speechless*

I’m utterly speechless. We go around planning things, fun things. Never a thought or care in the world. All we want to do is enjoy the time we have.

So why can’t I ride my bike?

There is so much more going on in the world than we will ever comprehend. Bad things happen DAILY. Our eyes and ears block out the bad things and pretend that life is infinite. We are always going to be here, right? Living and loving spending our days where we want to be. I want to be at the bike trail.

I worry. I worry for the future and for the present. I worry that people won’t heed warnings in dangerous settings.

Why do I still have to worry that whenever I walk outside of my house I could be mugged? Why do I have to worry that if I walk alone, thinking; I could be raped? I SHOULDN’T HAVE TO WORRY FOR MY SAFETY EVERY MINUTE OF EVERY DAY. This feeling is killing me. Knowing that these things are happening to others is not okay. It isn’t okay to disregard the concern others have for me. They shouldn’t have to worry about me!

In this world I cannot be independent. I can’t walk alone outside anymore. A great anxiety overcomes me as I walk outside knowing I might not return. Nobody should have to fear for their safety. No one should have to fear that they will be raped, mugged, shot, etc.. in a public place.

“An American is sexually assaulted every two minutes, and 9 out of 10 survivors are women.

I don’t know about you, but I’m profiling everyone after dark. If I’m walking alone at night and you are a man between the ages of 20 and 60 and your gait looks even remotely confident, I’m terrified of you. I’ve thought a lot about whether the fear is racist or classist, and it really isn’t. It really doesn’t discriminate much, except that the person normally falls into the above age range. No matter how tired, drunk, confident, sad, or excited I am, I get a piercing feeling in my stomach when someone of that description is walking toward me on the street. The moment they walk past me, I momentarily lose the ability to breathe as I role-play different scenarios in my head. I normally have a hand in my pocket clutching my keys or phone. The moment they walk past me I close my eyes and keep walking, ball my fists, and prepare. When they’re a distance that I’ve arbitrarily deemed safe behind me, I exhale and say a tiny little thank you to the street gods for sparing me. Then I chastise myself for a second and carry on walking.

My almost pathological fear of men in the streets after dark is something I need to continue to work on, and I recognize and own that. I also know that most people are good, kind, and just people, and that even if they aren’t, it is unlikely that they are rapists trolling the streets for unsuspecting women to assault. But in the same way that I own that, I think that if someone falls into the most-likely-to-rape people category, and he wants to show the world that he is not to be feared, or to create a world where women don’t fear for our safety in the street, then some of the onus is on him to address that inequality in his day-to-day life.

It isn’t fair to all men that random women in the street fear them just because of their gender. But, and this shouldn’t be a newsflash, they do, and that fact should make men really mad. The fact that we fear men in the street (to varying degrees), is because a portion of men do some stuff that is, if not illegal, at least a little unseemly. It’s scary to be catcalled by a group of drunken frat boys when you’re walking home alone. It’s scary to have someone slowly look you up and down when you’re walking home, chatting on the phone to your friend about godknowswhat. And when it isn’t scary, it’s an inconvenience.” (http://www.rolereboot.org/life/details/2014-08-im-sick-afraid-walk-alone-night/ )

-Ave

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