Afraid to be a Woman

Think about your day. Was there a moment when you felt uncomfortable? A moment when you wished you were somewhere else because you did not feel safe? Odds are that it happened to you at least one time this week, maybe even without you noticing it. I know it happened to me, and it felt horrible. Yesterday, I was heading back home after school, it was about 8 PM and the metro wasn’t very occupied. I was tired so I decided to use the elevator to access the main floor. When I arrived to the elevator, I noticed a man, about three times my age, looking at me from afar. I couldn’t clearly see what he was looking at, but I knew he was staring at me and it made me quite uncomfortable. I decided that his bad manners wouldn’t affect my decision of taking the elevator, after all, I was really tired! But, when I entered the elevator, I automatically regretted my decision. I felt really unsafe and I was praying that another person would enter, which happened, thank God! He kept staring at me, and even seemed like he wanted to talk to me which, very honestly, scared me. As soon as the elevator doors opened, I rushed out and I didn’t look back … I felt bad and guilty, almost as if it was my fault that he acted like that towards me! I had the reflex to analyse my outfit, trying to understand what he was looking at! I was dressed in lousse black track pants, and a baggy black coat that I had zipped all the way to my chin and my hair tucked in my coat, really, it wasn’t pretty! Then I realised…I was feeling guilty of being a woman!

Once I got home, I decided to do some research. I knew I wasn’t the only young woman to whom this had happened and I wanted to know what to do, what to think, how to act if it happens again! But why should it happen again? Why should I be afraid of stepping out my door alone? So many questions where bumping into my head, how can the look of one man put me in such a terrible mood? Luckily, I found the answers to some of my questions. A study lead by R. Callus and A. Churchman demonstrated that 56% percent of Canadian woman are afraid of walking alone at night in their neighborhoods versus 18% of men. This basically means that more than the half of women in Canada live in society without being completely secure! What shocks me the most is that I was unaware that the sentiment I had experienced was shared by other women across the country (2004, 199)!

Later on during the day, I did a survey with some of my friends asking them a simple question: Did you ever feel like you had to cross the street to avoid a stranger who mad you feel threatened? Or did you ever feel unsafe while walking around in a public area? All the guys I asked that question to told me that the only reason why they ever felt like they had to cross the street is if they walked by a dog, and they only felt threatened if they crossed a group of boys their age because they didn’t want to get into a fight. On the opposite side, all the girls to whom I asked the same exact question responded that both situations had happened to them and that they always had a fear of getting kidnapped! And this just made me relise how much of an issue that is in society! How twisted it is! and I really wonder how we can remedy to that problem once and for all.

Kallus R. & Churchman A. (2004) Women’s struggle for urban safety. The Canadian experience and its applicability to the Israeli context. Planning Theory and Practice. Retrieved from http://web.a.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=6&sid=bbc2a0e1-7dba-4d6c-bc5c-656a77dd7a1a%40sessionmgr4006

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