My Fear

13Aug06

Even though I am street-wise, and have had my share of fights, I fear rape.

I have recently begun to think through all the self-regulating and risk-avoidance behaviour I and my female friends do in our everyday lives, to get to the true cause of what we are avoiding…

When I leave a club and my mates say, “are you sure you’re alright getting home safely on your own..?” I say, “yeah, I’ll be fine”

What I should say is, “Statistically I am unlikely to be raped or attacked on the way home, but I will be shitting myself and looking over my shoulder clinging to my mobile, all the way home.”

When my mates say, “text us when you get home”
I text to say, “I’m home now, see you later”

What I should text is, “I wasn’t attacked on the way home so I’m safe thanks.”

When I’m walking home, I come to a point where I think, I could either walk the quick way, along the cycle path, or the long way along the main road, to be safe from rape. Depending on how dark it is, I usually will walk the long ‘safe’ way.

What this means is, I will walk along the main road where it is brightly lit with cars driving by, so that a man is less likely to attack me, and if a man does attack me, I can get help easier.

When I’m walking home at night, and a man is walking behind me, I think, ‘Shit, a man, walk faster…’

This really means, ‘Shit, a man, I hope he won’t rape me, walk faster so he doesn’t catch up with me.’

All this pisses me off, I want to be able to walk home on my own without fear of attack.

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5 Responses to “My Fear”

  1. Spot on! I’m exactly the same. I get on my feminist high horse when my boyfriend clucks like a mother hen at the thought of my walking even a short distance alone after dark, because when I fancy walking, it irks me that he would just go, whereas I have to weigh up the pros and cons. Just the other night I walked a tiny distance alone, but realised it was an enclosed walkway (along city walls) without much room for manoeuvre and became scared. Result: me imitating a ‘manly’ gait and clutching my keys as a weapon. How can this be addressed?

  2. Isn’t it strange, that when women walk the streets rape is the first thing they fear, mugging perhaps second.
    Men just have no idea what it is like to walk around in our skin.

  3. One time, I was walking back from a club at about 2am with a male friend. I happened to mention that recently a few women had been attacked in the area. He insisted on walking me home, but I refused. He knows I’m a feminist, and don’t like men chaperoning me around (no offence to those who want to be walked home).
    After a bit of a disagreement over him walking me home, he said, ‘There’s a difference between being a feminist and being a victim of rape.”

    Interestingly, as I walked back to mine on my own, a guy who was standing by the wall said something along the lines of ‘Hey baby’ and tried to make conversation with me. I walked on and walked for a minute up the hill to my house. When I got to my door, the same guy was sitting outside my house in a car, and again said ‘Hello, can we talk..?’. I went straight into my house, and waited until he drove off. I couldn’t sleep that night, thinking how could he have been one minute at the bottom of the road, and the next outside my house, like he knew where I lived..(?)

    The next day I was in the newsagent, and picked up the local paper, to see a small article detailing the description of the man who had attacked a few women in the area…and sure enough it was the same guy.
    I felt shocked as I could have been one of his victims.

  4. ‘manly’ gait

    I know exactly what you mean. If I see a man/group of men walking towards me at night, I stiffen my shoulders and walk with a swagger that says mess with me or I’ll knock you out. Underlying this, what I’m doing is coming across as less feminine so I feel safer and less likely to be a target to predatory men.

    My old lecturer- Chris Grover who works at Lancaster University used to say in his lectures:
    Women’s fear of sexual attack from strangers far outweighs the actual risk…so where does this fear come from..? It comes from fear of men and inequality in women’s everyday lives

    He was an ace feminist lecturer. He argued that the way in which rape is reported, as in referring to rapists as ‘beasts’ and ‘evil perverts’ serves to displace the responsibility of rape from ordinary men to the preserve of a sick minority. Thus negating any decent discussion as to the motives of rapists and the social context in which rape exists.

    Anyway…back to the point-what can we do about this fear..?
    Demand justice and action from the Criminal Justice System.
    I think women will stop fearing men when we stop having reasons to fear them.

  5. A really good related article from Claire McGowan at the F-Word on “The Fear Factor”.

    Claire McGowan explains how well-meaning Government and media campaigns to protect women could be focussing on the wrong issues. Preventing male violence, she argues, can not and should not be solved by women living in a state of terror, complying with unofficial curfews or restricting their own freedom.


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