My friends have been posting recommendations for apps intended to help women be out in the world safely. Ones that share your location with set people or make noise and send an emergency message when you tap the screen a certain way.
Every time I see these posts, I get really mad.
Not that someone saw a need and created an app that filled it. That's how both business and generosity work.
I do, however, hate that they exist. I hate that they exist and that my friends feel the need to share them because we have been recently reminded to feel unsafe in the world.
I hate that I recently shared some photos I'd taken at dusk and the first response I got was a friend asking me to please stay safe.
Walking around at dusk in my own neighbourhood.
I got so mad at that message. Not at the friend who sent it. At the world that made her even think that in the first place.
What kind of stupid world is this where it's reasonable to tell a grown-ass woman to "please be safe" walking around just after the sun has set? Sunset should not be scary. There are no vampires here. Just other humans, some of whom might see a grown-ass woman walking around with her camera at dusk and think, "hey, there's a target," making my friend smart and caring for sending that message and me potentially reckless for being outside and slightly distracted.
I often forget to "be safe."
I forget to text my friends when I get home or look for theirs.
I forget that I'm supposed to be afraid to walk at night.
It does not even occur to me to ask someone to walk me home.
If anything, being told to do these things brings out my defiant energy. Do you expect me to not do something because I'm a girl? No way. Doing it.
I get defiant, until I get scared.
Until I am walking to the club in the sketchy part of town and the guy who asked me for change keeps walking alongside me and I don't know how to get rid of him without potentially flipping the switch from "chatty man" to "angry man."
Until I realize that, oh dang, there is a reason people say not to walk through parks at night. It really is isolated. There is no one nearby, or if there is, I can't see them. There are trees and structures and no lights and I could easily be taken by surprise here.
Until I work evenings and have to secure and lock up the building by myself.
Until I am in my own damn home, getting ready for bed, and I cannot go to sleep until I walk around my apartment and check all the places where a person could potentially hide (I know all of them) and double-check that the doors are definitely locked.
Until I am getting into a car and try to simultaneously check the backseat and also get in quickly, lest someone be under the car or suddenly appear from behind a pillar.
Until I am walking home from the bus and already have my keys in my hand so I don't linger for even a second outside my door.
Until I am looking for a new place to live and the realtor says she doesn't want me in a ground-floor suite because it's not safe for a single woman and I realize that yeah, she's right. I would never be able to sleep with the window open.
Until I walk tall so I look like less of a target. (Read: make him decide to attack someone else.)
Until I hear that a woman was knocked off her bike by an attacker and here I thought that cycling gave me a measure of security by making me "harder to catch."
Until I venture out to the beach and look at the water in the moonlight and suddenly feel incredibly vulnerable.
Until a group of drunk men are walking towards me from the other direction and I try to make my face as deadpan as possible, to put a wall between me and them.
Usually, nothing happens. I have yet to discover a predator hiding in my bathtub, waiting for me to go to sleep.
And yet, I know people who were followed home, who had to hide or fight back.
And yet, the possibility of something happening teeters between "if" and "when."
And yet, I think I might download one of those stupid apps, as much as I hate them. Because then at least it's there. Because while I don't know that they would stop anyone, it does mean that if (or when?) something happens, it will be slightly harder for people to say it was my fault.
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