Afternoon InquisitionFeminism

AI: Rape O’Clock

I don’t leave the house often. It’s not that I’m inherently overwhelmingly terrified of the world. I just don’t have many places to go. But when I do, I move around like a woman.

I go out during the day. I don’t walk alone after certain hours and especially not in heels.

I run. Not like from scary men, like for exercise. And as a runner, I make sure that my husband has a map of where I’m running that day. Where I’m starting. Which direction I’m going. How long I anticipate on being gone. I run on well-lit roads. In areas that are somewhat well-trafficked. When I run after sun-down, I actually have a route I “jokingly” labeled on Runkeeper as my “Don’t get raped running at night runstravaganza”. I vary when I run, and I like to mix up my routes as much as possible while staying in well-lit, well-trafficked, well-paved areas with minimal intersections. And I run those routes in different directions and different ways.

And I’ve noticed that men and women startle equally as often when they don’t hear you announce your approach as you run past them. But men, they flinch. Women? They scream.

And as I walk through places like parking garages, I scan for people, movement, and cameras. I walk with my keys through my fingers (though, if I’m honest with myself, I have no reason to believe that would ever protect me.)

But really, I swear, I’m not inherently overwhelmingly terrified of the world. It’s just the way I move about the world. It’s the way I’ve always moved about the world, even as a kid. Usually, I don’t think about it. I just do it.

I’ve been told that it’s sad that I think I live in a world that’s this dangerous. I’ve been told that I’m being silly. I’ve been told that men do all these things, too. I’ve asked why it’s not a big deal for one person to walk around downtown alone but not me and I’ve been told, “Because. I’m a man.”

I bring this up because I came across this quote by Jessica Valenti on my Twitter feed yesterday:

When I was in college, a teacher once said that all women live by a ‘rape schedule.’ I was baffled by the term, but as she went on to explain, I got really freaked out. Because I realized that I knew exactly what she was talking about. And you do too. Because of their constant fear of rape (conscious or not), women do things throughout the day to protect themselves. Whether it’s carrying our keys in our hands as we walk home, locking our car doors as soon as we get in, or not walking down certain streets, we take precautions. While taking precautions is certainly not a bad idea, the fact that certain things women do are so ingrained into our daily routines is truly disturbing. It’s essentially like living in a prison – all the time. We can’t assume that we’re safe anywhere: not on the streets, not in our homes. And we’re so used to feeling unsafe that we don’t even see that there’s something seriously fucked up about it.

(Source: wordsthat-speak)

Do you think you or the women in your life live on a rape schedule? Do you think you move about the world differently than people who aren’t your gender? Is this fear founded? Is it denialist for pretend it’s not? What do you do to protect yourself after rape thirty PM?

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 3pm ET.


Elyse MoFo Anders is the bad ass behind forming the Women Thinking, inc and the superhero who launched the Hug Me! I'm Vaccinated campaign as well as podcaster emeritus, writer, slacktivist extraordinaire, cancer survivor and sometimes runs marathons for charity. You probably think she's awesome so you follow her on twitter.

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  1. Recently I had to start wearing earplugs. My husband leaves earlier than me some mornings and usually says good bye and kisses me while I’m half asleep and usually the noise of him getting ready makes me a little awake when he does.

    First time he did that post ear plugs, I opened my eyes half-awake to a male body hovering over me with a face moving in toward mine. I screamed. Then I came to consciousness and said I thought he was a rapist and next time to maybe shake me awake first.

    Next morning. I feel a firm grip on my arm. “Aaaack!” as I awake, and I told him I thought he was a rapist again in my half-conscious state. Next time he just made sure to sit on the bed and make a lot of noise to wake me up first.

  2. I used to do these things more when I lived in more populated areas (DC and environs, Philly and environs, etc.). To some extent, I know everyone in my immediate area in the rural area I live in now, and I don’t worry about attack from any of them.

    However, I still lock my car doors as soon as I get in the vehicle when I’m in more heavily populated areas, especially those I’m not that familiar with. And I keep an eye on vehicles that may be following me when I’m heading home in my rural area, because I know that if someone followed me onto my property, they could probably get to me before I could get into the house, with my dogs and my shotgun (assuming my husband wasn’t around). (Of course, I could also call the police from my driveway, if need be, because I always carry my phone.)

    1. This is totally true. I grew up in a rural area, not many neighbors and none I didn’t know. I was a lot more afraid of running into a bear or moose out at night than I was a rapist or any other human who meant me harm. When I got my first apartment in a larger town I still walked my dog at 1am (much to my landlady’s horror). That ingrained fear just never developed in me and it took a long time for me to fully empathize with that fear. It’s a good thing I live in a low crime area of a low crime city because I have the worst sense of self-preservation (my now-boyfriend is still amazed I went on a trip to NYC with him when we’d never met in person).

  3. Yeah, I don’t think most of those precautions are unique to women. That’s not to dismiss the fear of rape of course; women have to fear the same things men fear (mugging, robbery, etc.) and rape on top of it all.

    Though it’s already been reported that women are buying guns more than ever, I’d love to see more of them get a concealed carry license where possible (most of the country) and learn how to use it.

    1. I think the big difference between being concerned about mugging and such vs rape is also being aware of the ramifications of becoming the victim.

      If I report that someone beat me up and stole my money, I’m probably not going to be asked if it was possible they thought I was giving them the money based on the fact that I was walking alone with cash in my pocket. We not only have to deal with the attack, but we have to answer for why it happened. If I didn’t have the keys between my fingers, was it rape? Will anyone believe it was rape?

      Protecting yourself against rape is also protecting yourself from society after you’ve been raped.

      1. “I think the big difference between being concerned about mugging and such vs rape is also being aware of the ramifications of becoming the victim.”

        In addition to that, I think a woman is more likely to be a victim of robbery just because they’re usually an easier target. Most criminals are going to pick someone they see as more vulnerable and less likely to be able to catch them when they run off.

        Note I have no statistics at hand to back that up, but it makes sense to me.

      2. I think the big difference between being concerned about mugging and such vs rape is also being aware of the ramifications of becoming the victim.

        This is, I think, a very insightful point.

        Being sexually assaulted by a stranger you pass in a public place is extremely rare. I forget the exact number, but if a woman passes a strange man on the street, that man is far more likely to be a rape survivor than a rapist. And, as others have noted, the overwhelming majority of cases of rape are perpetrated by someone the victim knows.

        It would seem, on the face of it, to be highly irrational to live in constant fear of rapists. But fearing society, especially a society which has already let you down or subtly victimised you all your life, makes a hell of a lot more sense.

    2. I’ve wondered how useful a gun would be to preventing rape when most rape is by someone you know in familiar surroundings. You’d have to walk around with a gun in the office after hours, in your home, on the couch during a make-out session and over your friends’ houses. I’m sure some guys would like to make out with a woman with a gun off safety, but not many.

      BTW- Twice I have gone on dates purposely with mace and made sure they knew I had it. I even asked the one guy to drive me to walmart first to buy it! I knew these guys but had never been alone with them before. I’m glad I did with the one guy. He did get rather creepy and I asked to go home. The other did end up dating me for over 2 years. He had nothing to fear.

      1. “I’ve wondered how useful a gun would be to preventing rape when most rape is by someone you know in familiar surroundings.”

        Let me be clear that I am not one of those people who think a gun is a magic shield against violent crime.

      2. I also wonder if this is a slightly more subtle form of victim-blaming. “Well, she wouldn’t have been raped if she wasn’t carrying a gun!”

    3. Has a gun ever been useful in an attempted rape?

      It’s not like the guy’s gonna stand yell “Hey lady I’m about to rape you,” and just chill for 30 seconds while the victim finds the weapon in her purse, turns off the safety, pulls the hammer back, and brings the gun out.

      As a dude nobody’s ever tried to rape me, but I have been victim of plenty of crimes and at the end I have never thought “If only I’d had a gun that would have gone so much better.”

      Mace cans seem useful. No licensing requirements, the Safety is trivial to remove, they’re easy to find in your purse, and if you accidentally set the damn thing off all you need to do is replace the purse. Firearms just seem like a way a woman can re-assure her hick brothers (who know jack about the city) that really, she’ll be fine.

      1. Keychain guns! How do we not have these already? As easy to grab as mace! And 500 times more likely to shoot you in the leg while you’re rocking out to at a red light.

        1. You can get closish to a keychain gun. They’re called derringers. They’re a little bigger then keychain guns (about 5 in long), but they do exist.

        1. We’re talking about random street violence. That wasn’t random because both victim and rapist knew he was targeting her, and it was not street violence because it happened in her home.

          I’m sure over the years somebody whose been grabbed by a rapist has managed to shoot his ass, but it just doesn’t seem like something that would work consistently. And people who try probably shoot more people accidentally then on purpose.

          1. “We’re talking about random street violence.”

            You might be, but I was responding to this: “Has a gun ever been useful in an attempted rape?”

            “That wasn’t random because both victim and rapist knew he was targeting her, and it was not street violence because it happened in her home.”

            If you’d said word one about randomness or street VS in home rape, I’d have adjusted my answer accordingly.

      2. “It’s not like the guy’s gonna stand yell “Hey lady I’m about to rape you,” and just chill for 30 seconds while the victim finds the weapon in her purse, turns off the safety, pulls the hammer back, and brings the gun out.”

        A properly carried weapon isn’t floating loose in your purse or a large pocket. They make different stlyes of holsters that can keep the weapon concealed and quickly accessible. Most modern pistols don’t have to be cocked, and revolvers don’t have external safties. The long trigger pull is the safty.

        That being said, you should never carry a weapon you haven’t trained and regularly practiced with, and aren’t willing to use if neccesary.

      3. ‘as a dude nobody’s ever tried to rape me’

        Bit of a non sequitur. Hasn’t the US recently become the first country in the world where the instances of sexual assaults of males has exceeded the instances of sexual assaults of females?

          1. As a member of the US Army reserves I have to take periodic anti-sexual assault couses, and they are finally beginning to recognize that male-on-male assault is a problem. And even female-on-female assault.

          2. “And even female-on-female assault.”

            Having worked in a jail … yes. Most definitely.

  4. I live in a university town (Madison, WI). Two weeks ago, a woman was gang raped by three men as she walked home from the bar on a Friday night. This being a college town, she was likely one of thousands of students doing the same thing at that time. But of course, all of the comments on the news article were so busy questioning her choice to be outside at that time of day they neglected to mention how horrifically evil it is to see a stranger on the street and make the decision to assault her.

  5. I started living on my own in an apartment about 2 years ago after 13 years of being in a suburban house with a husband. My boyfriend, who has keys to my apartment, has learned to announce himself LOUDLY when he comes in because even if I’m expecting him, if I come out of the shower or something and he’s there, I jump or scream.

    I do the locking doors thing and try not to be in my office building alone late or on the weekends. I used to have a license plate that said “SKEPCHK” but I gave it up because I didn’t want to be obviously identified as female and followed home now that I’m living alone.

    I am the same as you, Elyse – I don’t have an overwhelming fear of the world. I don’t feel particularly hampered or crippled. All these things just happen. It’s only when you really think about it that you realize how screwed up it is.

    1. I thought this was just me; I frequently scream/yell and go into panic mode if my boyfriend comes in without me realising (especially if I’m actually in the shower, there’s a terrifying moment between the door opening and me seeing who it is).

      He thinks I’m being silly, and I’ve never really thought about why I get so scared.

    2. My husband has learned not to ‘surprise’ me by coming home early. One time, he came downstairs to my office to find me wielding a hockey stick, ready to brain him. These days, he warns me before he leaves work so we don’t end up on the news.

  6. Yeah, my husband has been encouraging me to get a handgun permit for awhile now. But he’s also a lot more city-phobic than I am (I work in a city of about 100,000 people). Interestingly, he always seems to be more concerned about me getting shot or physically harmed in some similar way, since my commute takes me through a low-income/high-crime area. I think it’s much more likely I’d be raped than carjacked or hit by a stray bullet. Take from that what you will.

  7. Converse to Melissa’s story, I worry less living in urban areas than I did in rural areas.

    I also always carry a straight razor, and the first person who asks if I’m worried someone will get it away from me, or who thinks to lecture me on not carrying something I “won’t use” needs to reconsider their statements. I’ve been raped, it will never happen again.

    I’m hypervigilant and do not like going places alone. I always know who is around me where, they are and how many of them there are. If I am alone in public I will frequently try to keep a wall at my back. I check the back of the car before I get in, I have my keys out in my hand before I leave the house or a store or whatever.

    Honestly, I KNOW I’m at far more risk of being raped/attacked by someone I know (I was raped by a boyfriend), but the hypervigilance doesn’t really care. I kind of live on high alert all the time, regardless.

    1. Honestly, I KNOW I’m at far more risk of being raped/attacked by someone I know (I was raped by a boyfriend), but the hypervigilance doesn’t really care. I kind of live on high alert all the time, regardless.

      Yes! When I find myself worrying about someone jumping out of a bush, I remind myself that happens extremely rarely and that I’m at bigger risk when I walk back into my apartment. But fuck. Nothing makes that bush less scary than my husband.

      1. Exactly. Part of me realizes that if I were being “realistically” jumpy I’d be twitchier at parties with my friends. But there’s nothing rational about it.

        1. Weird admission: I think I’m almost the other way around. I’ll walk home, alone, late at night. (I live in a ridiculously safe neighborhood now, but I did this in the south side of Chicago too.) But I rarely go to big parties or clubs without a big cohort of friends, and on the occasions I do, I’m hyper aware and I stay at the edges and I don’t drink and I talk almost exclusively to my friends. I’m incredibly jumpy the first couple times I hang out with a male friend alone – it has to be outside, in public, middle of the day. And if someone has expressed interest that I don’t reciprocate, I try to avoid them at all costs. It’s weird; I feel like the “don’t go out after dark alone” admonitions are common enough that people will nod along with it, at least, but the fact that I do all of these other things makes me feel like a total awkward shut-in.

  8. The other night I was out running and I smelled cigarette smoke. But I couldn’t see anyone anywhere. I looked around. Looked up. Looked down. I could not see anyone.

    I don’t know if anything has ever made me pick up my pace like realizing that someone is obviously there, and I can smell them, and not only can’t I see them, I can’t see anyone else.

    1. Yes. I had that happen with someone’s cologne. I walk by a wooded park on my way home from work, and in the winter it’s dark by the time I’m walking by it.

      Walking in front of the trailhead in the dark and smelling someone’s cologne but not being able to see or hear them nearly gave me a heart attack. I actually started to tear up, I was so freaked out that I couldn’t find him.

  9. These kinds of thoughts bother me… and it isn’t that they are unwarranted, because I believe they are. I am bothered because they are warranted.

    I know that my wife does not live with a rape schedule. In fact, she is so blissfully unaware that I often need to urge a little caution. It is a delicate balance because I firmly support her having her own life and friends outside of our shared social circle; however, when I see a male in her friend circle who is typifying creepy behavior I feel it behooves me to warn my wife.

    Whenever she travels alone to other places where she isn’t going to have friends around I make sure to support her staying in better hotels that are closer to the event she is travelling to so that she can minimize her exposure.

    After Rebecca posted once (or perhaps it was on a podcast) that she chose which pair of shoes to wear when she went out based on whether she might have to run from an attacker I asked my wife is she ever made that consideration. While she said, “no” in all fairness I’m not sure she owns anything but sneakers anyway. I am grateful that my wife doesn’t live in constant wariness because it seems like that would be exhausting. I know when I was in high school and was picked on incessantly I found it so.

    I wish there was an easy answer to make all forms of violence just stop; however, I suspect it is somewhat just part of human nature and it is only socialization that controls it. Those that cannot control their violent tendencies are probably unbalanced in some way or never received the socialization necessary.

    Oh, and I will occasionally walk to my car with my keys in hand and lock the doors as soon as I enter depending on where I am.

  10. I’m kind of confused by men who say stuff like “I’m doing that, too.” No, you don’t. The woman I live with sometimes misses the train home after work, and is alone in the train station. Every time it happens, she calls me and talks to me on the phone until the next train arrives, because she knows that she’s not safe there, at night, alone, and she wants to know that somebody will be able to immediately call the police if something happens. If you’re a man, you simply don’t do that. You don’t call somebody else and keep them on the phone until the next train shows up because you’re legitimately afraid.

    Men catcall her. When she’s out walking, cars slow down and just drive beside her; creepy as all hell. Men follow her around. When it happens, she has to go into a shop and wait until the man leaves, hoping that somebody will help her if she needs them to, hoping that he’s really gone and not just hiding somewhere. That kind of stuff just doesn’t happen to men.

    As a kid, I was scrawny and unpopular. I’d often get beat up. So I did similar things at a much smaller, less scary scale; the price of a mistake was just getting beaten up, not being raped. I picked random routes to avoid other kids. I left school early so I could get away before they got off class. But I grew up, I worked out, and at some point, I realized that I had reached the top of the food chain. I had grown big and muscular enough that pretty much nobody could hurt me anymore.

    When I realized that, it was an incredibly liberating feeling. Women never get to have that feeling. So, men, please don’t tell me that you “do that stuff, too”.

    However, reading about this has changed my behavior. At some point, I’ve realized that I’m now the person others are afraid of, both from reading stuff here, and from how others behave towards me. I often take walks at night, and when I see women, I avoid them. I just walk somewhere else. I avoid dark alleys and other potentially scary places. I don’t overtake women or walk behind them; if I notice a woman ahead of me, I take a detour to avoid her.

    So it has had an impact on my behavior, but definitely not in the “oh, I do that, too” kind of way.

    1. Thank you for really getting it. And for not being that big guy who keeps walking behind a lone woman at the same pace at night.

      1. I’ve actually met women in places like pedestrian underpasses and dark alleys, which is why I’ve started avoiding them. I guess it’s not always convenient for women to avoid these places if they’re walking, say, home from work, but since I’m not really going anywhere specific, it’s easy for me to just not go there, and stick to well-lit streets.

    2. I’m not a big, scary guy – I’m a slightly short, fat wimp – but I’ve adjusted my behaviour since reading about this stuff too. I don’t go out much at all, and very rarely after dark, but I take measures to be non-threatening.
      I cross streets to avoid walking behind women; I make noise when walking so I don’t accidentally surprise women coming round a corner or something; when sharing a bus shelter, I stay as far away as the shelter allows and pay very close attention to my mp3 player; and, most importantly, I don’t take it personally if a woman who doesn’t know me seems uncomfortable to be alone with me.

      I know I’m not a threat to anyone, but others don’t necessarily know that. I think understanding that is a major part of being a Decent Person™.

      1. Yeah, I do the “playing with my phone” thing while waiting for a bus or train, too, in some kind of attempt to signal that I’m just a normal person doing normal things, and not a creep waiting for an opportunity to hit on a woman. I’m not sure if it’s helpful, though.

        1. “I had grown big and muscular enough that pretty much nobody could hurt me anymore.”

          Lukas…can I just say that’s not a good attitude to have. Being big and muscular in no way makes you immune from harm and could actually be putting you in more danger because you aren’t as switched on. It sounds blaise to me. Being big can actually make you a target for the sort of attacker that sees it as a challenge. By all means walk around as you see fit but I thought that needed saying. There’s not a self defence instructor in the world that would say being big and strong makes you safe from harm.

          1. I don’t think I said that I’m completely safe from harm, but I’m clearly much less likely to be attacked than women or children, and much more likely to be able to defend myself.

            So what would you suggest a good attitude would be for me? To pretend that men like me are in the same position as the women posting in this thread about their experiences and fears?

            (Also, the word you’re looking for is “blasé” :-)

    3. Well said.

      Especially awesome:
      ” I had grown big and muscular enough that pretty much nobody could hurt me anymore.

      When I realized that, it was an incredibly liberating feeling. Women never get to have that feeling.”

      “Every time it happens, she calls me and talks to me on the phone until the next train arrives, because she knows that she’s not safe there, at night, alone, and she wants to know that somebody will be able to immediately call the police if something happens. If you’re a man, you simply don’t do that. You don’t call somebody else and keep them on the phone until the next train shows up because you’re legitimately afraid.”

  11. I was raised to be fearful in order to be safe. Not to go out alone at night, to have someone know where I was and when to expect me back, to be vigilant in observing my surroundings, to carry something to protect me (mace, pepperspray), and to travel in groups whenever possible in dubious or unknown areas.

    I try to maintain a workable balance of fear and safety. I took a year of martial arts, which I liked. I do the unsafe things when it’s either unavoidable or causes too much fuss, especially when it might alter the view of my competence in a work situation.

    I’m not arguing that the fear has been in any way psychologically good for me or society. Instead, I am angry, afraid, angry about being afraid, and angry that my access to the world is so reduced and it -still- doesn’t make me safe. Angry that what I do can be held against other women who haven’t done these things and were unlucky enough to be attacked.

    I hate the loss of adultness in asking someone to walk me to my car or go with me to certain places at night. I get even angrier about the denialists who accuse me of supporting rape culture/ antifeminism/ victim mindset by doing what I think will help me not get attacked.

    Ummm, no. The rapists and muggers are creating this culture. Coping is not endorsing. My feminism is very practical. I refuse to pretend that I have equal risks in order to make other people feel happier about the state of the world that is decidedly unworthy of that complacence. I can argue for equality at the same time that I’m living in the space between victim-of-the-culture and trying-not-to-be-victim-of-the-crime.

    Also angering: the male co-student who didn’t want me to leave my keys on the table during group study because the mace spray might go off if bumped or something. Despite the safety latch, that is -so- much more likely than my getting attacked while leaving a lab late at night. (irony-face)But I shouldn’t make him uncomfortable. I pointed the spray part at myself, rather than remove it from his sight, and moved on.

  12. Good questions, Elyse. Answers: no, no, yes, yes, DOGS!

    My wife walks the dogs for 40 minutes daily, often after dark. It bothers me more than her (we had this conversation recently). So the no’s are her, the yes’s are me.

    If we accept the horrifying statistic that the lifetime risk of rape is 1/6, and I think it is similar here, then I am right to be concerned.

    OTOH, the flip side is that the odds are in fact on her side and she does have the dogs for protection.

    So, bottom line, I do not want to break her bubble when it brings her so much pleasure and has so many benefits in terms of fitness and health. Wow, she is trim for a woman in her 50’s. They are big dogs and they PULL!

    It would be a crime to break the confident and positive worldview that she has always had, even if I could.

    Also, there is only so much shit that one person can worry about and her cancer is #1 now and probably forever.

    1. Dogs are great for coping with fear. I run near my home on a semi-rural road. It’s a reasonably low-crime area, and I never run in the dark. I don’t generally feel unsafe when I run.

      I have a lab-mix dog that I take running with me. She loves going, and I thought I was taking her with me for *her* benefit. Until she recently had to take a break from running due to a broken toe, and I realized I didn’t feel safe running without her.

    2. Here’s something to consider, if you want to be helpful: One of the ways that rape culture “benefits” men is that it gives them an excuse to exert power over women, even if they aren’t rapists, under the guise of “chivalry”. Throughout history, men have argued that women need to be kept out of public life, draped in clothes that just so happen to hide them from other men, and basically treated like they’re property owned by their husbands or fathers, on the grounds that it “protects” them from rape. The rapist and the chivalrous husband/father work together to create the rationale for keeping the woman from living her life as a free human being.

      With that in mind, try to minimize irritating your wife by substituting your judgment for hers on how safe she is.

      1. *nod* I wish it weren’t so complicated. I appreciate the chivalry of trusted company to diminish risk. I don’t want society to -require- me to get that company or on my own head be anything that happens to me (Saudi Arabian driving laws come to mind).

      2. @Amanda Marcotte, Absolutely! Couldn’t agree more! I was just sharing my own private thoughts here for what it’s worth. I hate the idea of exerting power over anybody, in actual fact.

      3. I was actually wondering about that. What is the appropriate response if you’re afraid for somebody’s safety?

        If women talk to me about their fears, I sometimes ask whether they’ve considered carrying pepper spray, and I’ve gone and bought pepper spray with women who agreed that it might be a good idea. But I’m uncomfortable even suggesting that, and I immediately drop the subject if I sense any kind resistance, because A) I feel like I’m just making women more afraid than they already are, which doesn’t seem like a good idea, and B) it might imply that, if something happens, it’s their own fault for not doing more to protect themselves.

  13. I have in the past done some of those things when I lived in “Teh Big City”. But mostly not. I have walked home alone, at night, taking the dark streets, petting kitty cats as I go.. but I lived in a fantastic neighbourhood. Had I lived on the downtown eastside, things would have been different for sure. I’ve only been really scared a couple of times (and I lived alone in a basement suite in said neighbourhood for 8 years). Once, was when a suspicious car seemed to be following me (I turned a walked very quickly the other way, and it buggered off), and once when I thought I heard gunshots outside my house late at night. Both were called in to the police, and nothing more was done.

    Now I live in a small town, semi-rural on a dark street. When I’m home alone, I only lock the doors before I go to bed at night. I sleep with the windows open. I sleep soundly. The only time I’ve been afraid is when a deer knocked his antlers against my bedroom window by accident.

    All in all, I lived alone for over 13 years – in the big city, in the smaller but arguably more dangerous city, in the tiny hick village with a serious violence problem. I’ve been aware of my surroundings, I’ve occasionally carried my keys in a defensive manner, I’ve looked over my shoulder a few times (I’m no idiot)… but mostly I just try to live without fear of what’s coming next.

  14. Getting a dog has made me feel a lot safer, probably falsely, as I dont know/wouldnt rely on him, but he has a scary growl/bark and will alert me if someone is close to the house. He makes me feel safe going for walks in remote places and at night. However, many of the creepy experiences I have had have been on a bus in the middle of the day, in some ways I think all the fear about alleyways can make us not expect shit to happen in front of lots of people, in broad daylight, and then be a bit unprepared, well at least this has been my experience…Plus being socialised “not to make a fuss/throw a ‘hissy fit’. Eugh. Even more scary when you do shout at them, and no one wants to get involved or help you, =(…I still choose to pick up male hitchhikers, as I see that risk to be extremely low, (but would prob not hitchhike in a male’s car).

  15. I have nothing to say about this. I can’t say anything about this… I’m not a woman.

    What I can say is that yes, males do fear. They do get scared when they hear someone behind them at night. The idea of someone suddenly putting a gun in their face when they get into their car does go through their heads. That men are well aware that they are several times more likely to be the victims of any violent crime (assaults, murders) just because they happen to have a Y chromosome.

    Men don’t scream when someone overtakes them on a dark street? No kidding. Likely it’s because from the crib we have been told that men don’t scream. They stand up and fight. Even if it is a ten foot tall demon, lit by hellfire with chainsaws with hands… you stand you fight. Maybe just to give your loved ones a chance to run away. Maybe just because you can’t be pushed around by ten foot tall flaming chainsaw demons. To admit that you are scared is an admission of weakness. And if there is one thing that you are absolutely not allowed in any way if you happen to be born with external genitalia… is to admit any weakness.

    I’d go a step further and say that men are also quite often aware of what effect they do have on women… and that this is a hurtful and terrifying situation. Around various feminist blogs, you get the term ‘Schrodinger’s Rapist’, referring to how a woman can really never know if a man is or is not. However, to the male perspective, it’s pretty much “Schrodinger-less”. Being told by half the population that you are pretty much the slime of the earth… that your actions incriminate you… even if you have never participated in these actions and find them repugnant… Is it any wonder why there is a backlash movement?

    I can’t say anything about the terror of being raped. I can sympathize… I too have been scared. I’ve been alone. I’ve spent that heart-racing moment listening to see if that sound was repeated. I’ve gone and avoided places simply because they didn’t ‘feel right’. I have no useful advice aside from “you are not alone”.

    1. I don’t think you’ve made a serious effort to empathize at all. The amount of effort you’ve gone through to misunderstand Schroedingers Rapist and make it all about you and your poor hurt feelings make me think that you don’t have any interest in listening to women at all or understanding the severity of the limitations they impose on their behavior to feel even a little bit safer. Yeah, you’ve gotten spooked at night a couple times. Big whoop. It’s not about you, dingus.

  16. Come to think of it, every woman I know moves on that schedule. I generally get requests even from my wife or female friends for escort after dark, so yeah, EVERY WOMAN I KNOW LIVES ON A RAPE SCHEDULE.

    And every woman I see on the train is clearly on edge (seriously).

    And as I live in Chicago, it helps them survive I think because generally on our public transit and on the streets there’s a lot of creeping and threatening going on, so the threat they are ducking is *real*.

    Sucks being a woman eh?

  17. I grew up in Eastern Ky, way out in an almost inaccessible hollow, with my family that included three younger siblings – my brother and twin sisters. We ran totally wild, had the world to play in. There were no other kids where we lived, and we roamed the hillsides and walked a few miles to great-aunts and uncles, sneaked through train tunnels and swam in the river. My parents would even go so far as to lock us out in the morning during summer vacation and leave a plate of sandwiches at noon, not really wondering what we were up to until dark.

    But that was when we were little. As I got old enough to start driving, things changed for me. My parents started taking much more interest in what I did with my time, kept tabs on me constantly. I had no curfew, but I was never allowed to leave to go anywhere it seemed, very rarely even to sleepovers or to visit my friends’ houses. I was a teenager stuck wandering the same places I had as a kid, feeling completely isolated. They said it was for my own good, but I noticed a huge difference when my brother started driving. He went where he wanted, did what he wanted, came home at whatever time he wanted.

    And all they would say is, “He’s a boy. The world’s not the same place for girls as for boys.”

    1. Ah yes, the restrictions on a daughter’s sexuality. Having a Chinese mother and Indian father, basically 70% of my extended family does this to their daughters.

      As a father of two daughters myself I believe this to be really harmful to women. Girls need to be afforded the freedom to explore their freedom and sexuality. And hopefully you can prepare them to make the right decisions when they are exploring this new part of their life. The alternative is basically telling them “you are a woman, your sexuality is not your own, it is a man’s, and you need to reserve it only for one man”.

      Personally I plan on letting my daughters explore their freedom and their sexuality with their peers when they naturally begin experiencing it. As a parent it’s hard to let your kids do that as you know the problems associated with it, but you can’t limit them as I believe it will lead them to not have a healthy, INDEPENDENTLY FORMED concept of it when they reach early adulthood.

    2. So my daughter is 11, and she’s wonderful and beautiful and fearless and probably couldn’t imagine that a boy would do anything worse to her than swatting a spider she was trying to protect.

      My wife and I do take more precautions for her than we would for our son, like always going to meet her bus when it lets her off (we live in a pretty safe neighborhood).

      So I’m reading the first bunch of posts here, and I’m thinking about posting a question like “When should I start teaching her to be paranoid on her own account?” And it seems like the answer would be “Duh, you should have done that already.”

      But then I read this post, and I realize it’s more complicated and not as simple an answer as I thought.

      So when did you all learn?

      1. I think the issue is letting go of the old thinking about “protecting your daughter”.

        The hard thing about that as a parent is that you know there are a lot of nasty unknowns awaiting your daughter in her puberty and teen years and it’s a hard pill to swallow when you realize you have to let her go and let her learn on their own.

        For me, I’m simply trying to teach them what good people and good love are and to think very independently and not give any ground to people who don’t deserve it, my hope is that this will develop into their natural sense of how to sense danger and pick people who really love them.

      2. i started to learn when i was an adult and people started telling me these things.

        and i never truly internalised it. i am very rarely afraid – i go out late at night, i walk alone, i wear what i want. yes, all in relatively safe areas.

        my parents gave me freedom and they never suggested i need extra protection because of being a girl.

        i understand why so many women are afraid – i’ve had the odd experience myself.

        but i am so, so glad i missed out on the majority of the anxiety so many women experience.

        teach your daughter to be confident. self defence classes are good, if they focus on being confident and taking control. but anything that tells her she needs to be extra careful in situations where a boy wouldn’t? think very carefully about whether that’s actually true – what are the real chances she’ll be attacked walking home from the bus stop in your safe neighbourhood? – before helping her internalise fear.

      3. Bruce, on a private FB thread with some friends I’ve been discussing the question of “when was your first sexual assault?” (Not “if”, “when”.) For most of us it was around puberty. I was pre-pubescent, at ten.

        So no, there is no time too early to educate, BUT, and this is a very big BUT, education must not be about blaming her. I never told my parents. It wasn’t a big deal – a stranger groped my crotch as I was walking home from school; I ran away. But I wasn’t supposed to speak to strangers, and he’d politely said excuse me and asked me what was the time. And I’d stopped walking and told him. So clearly it was my fault, right?

  18. It’s not even something that I rationalize, since I could be sitting there reminding myself how unlikely it is to get attacked, but confined or dark and empty spaces always send me into high alert — blood pressure and adrenaline goes up and my senses start working overtime — more like a phobic reaction than anything.

    I used to go running with some friends until they moved away, and I ended up stopping because the track was scary at night by myself. Then I found a park that’s well lit and populated by a lot of people until it closes. Of course, I always feel guilty after being suspicious of people, like the hot, muggy night when a guy wearing long layers and a hat, carrying a large metal dumbbell followed me, then paced along beside me to ask about the mosquitoes — most guys I tell that story to think I overreacted while the women shudder at the thought.

    If my s/o is out of the house, I don’t fall asleep until I’m exhausted. Lots of reasons for that, starting with the neighborhood boy who thought it was hilarious to come tapping on my window late at night when I was a teenager.

    Oddly, I was actually stalked and harassed more often during the day when I was pregnant.

  19. I used to live in a happy place. A place where I did not worry about being raped. You have intruded on my happy place.

    My safety precautions are haphazard. I lock the door at night, but I leave it unlocked when I am home during the day. I run all over the place in my little town and never worry. Maybe I should, damn it!

    I have to think about it more, look at the statistics more and decide if I am better off as I am, or should I worry more, enjoy life less, trust less? How would that affect my chances of being raped? How would that affect my joy in life and my willingness to reach out and meet new people?

    1. Honestly, maybe it’s weird, but I don’t really get the whole point of locking doors and windows. If someone is coming to get me, my locked door isn’t going to stop them… plus, it’s a pretty easy system to circumvent what with doorbells and all. And really “I was going to break in and rape the shit out of that girl, but the window is locked. What’s a guy to do? Oh well. Who wants to go bowling and drink some beers?”

      1. Seems like locking doors and windows is like the TSA of home security: it’ll only deter the incompetent criminals.

        1. That really depends.

          The one incident I was involved in where the bad guy did pull a gun only happened because we forgot to lock the door. In theory they could have easily broken through the door (it was one of those nice old front doors which is 80% glass), but we would have heard that and might have been ready. If the door had been locked he probably would have gone on to some other house.

        2. Also the lazy and those in a hurry. Seriously though, while it won’t deter the determined the noise is likely to give you a bit more warning than a quietly opened door or window. Gives you a few more seconds to call 911 or take other measures.

        3. actually…

          some thieves broke into my house by breaking a window. stupidly, we left the key within reach, so they could break the pane, then open the window.

          but my door was double locked.

          so they stole what they could – but there was a fair amount of stuff they couldn’t steal, because it wouldn’t fit through the window, and if we hadn’t left the key there they might have moved on.

          nothing’s fool proof, but a lot of criminals really aren’t that technically adept…

      2. It’s not at all uncommon for criminals to go for the low hanging fruit and test doors until they come to the one that is unlocked. Also, it can buy time and give you notice by causing the intruder to make noise. Will it stop the determined nutball? Probably not most of the time. But it costs nothing to do it.

      3. @Elyse just FYI our neighborhood authorities informed us that the people breaking into our neighborhood houses were pros; these guys ride up and down our street on bikes to observe who leaves their cars / houses unlocked. Scary! Granted they were theives not rapists per se, but in fact every person on our block who’s had their home broken into had left some window or door unlocked.

        By the same token I heard (unsubstantiated though) that some experienced rapists carry a knife instead of a gun, because the latter carries a much lesser jail sentence. Just a rumor but something to think about for me.

        1. Brick through the glass door is certainly a possibility. However some criminals want to make it easy on themselves with the element of surprise. If you smash glass you’re going to wake someone up or maybe alert the neighbors. Then as a criminal you’re just begging for a fireplace rod through the skull. For most criminals, silence is far better.

  20. I hold my keys ready long before I reach my vehicle or apartment so that I don’t pause for a long time with my back to the world while getting the door open. I then lock the door as soon as I get through.

    At night, if someone at work is leaving at about the same time as me, then I’ll wait til they finish so that neither of us are walking out into the parking lot alone. This one I find is very common amongst women co-workers. I’ve yet to see a male co-worker do it.

    When walking down quiet streets, day or night, I position myself so that I have a good wall on one side or to my back so that I can concentrate on observing fewer directions.

    If someone is keeping pace or approaching me from behind I cross the road or, if that isn’t possible, I find some excuse to stop, back to wall, and let the person walk ahead of me.

    When I used to run at night I always told someone when and where I was running and for them to call me if I didn’t get back on time. If I didn’t answer, they were to call the police. I also ran with a flip-knife hidden in my fist. Mace is illegal in my country.
    I wear hooded baggy coats that hide my femininity when walking alone at night, and keep to well-lit busy streets as much as possible.

    I never walk around in heels at night without a companion.

    When I used to take the bus and a bus stop was quiet or someone was creeping me out, I’d pretend to be in a txt conversation with someone, or trigger a fake call or even txt a fiend to call me (I was too poor to be able to afford to call anyone myself).

    At parties and clubs we travel in groups. No one ever goes home alone, even if they have picked up some guy -her buddy person ‘needs a place to crash and is happy on the couch’. If you leave the group to chat someone up, you are checked on regularly in person or by txt. The party rules have actually saved me once, after some anonymous person drugged my drink.

    Now let me get this straight. I don’t live in constant fear. I’m usually not scared walking around at night either. These are just things I do without even considering them at the time. In fact, I only ever notice these strategies when I see other women NOT doing them.

  21. I know I don’t live on a rape schedule. Given that the only women currently in my life are my grandmother and aunt, I’m not sure what schedule they live. Don’t think my aunt does. My grandmother doesn’t go out much at night, unless something is happening at the church.

    I do think I do live a bit differently than women do.
    I’m not too concerned about being attacked. Of course, I also walk in familar areas along main streets. And I don’t see many other people, aside from near shopping centers.
    When someone does pass, I don’t usually feel threatened. It does depend on their appearence most of the time. And I have to admit that I tend not to feel threatened should a women pass me.

    In any case, I don’t out often, mostly because there’s nothing I want to do, or I just feel too depressed to do anything.

  22. I had a really good experience on Sunday night with a new friend who really gets it. I was at a bar south of San Francisco’s Civic Center with a bunch of my classmates and was thinking about heading home but putting it off because I didn’t want to walk the several blocks up to Market to catch my train by myself. I was talking with someone and when I mentioned that I was thinking of heading home, he offered to leave with me and walk to me to Market without me even asking. Even though he wasn’t necessarily planning to leave yet. I was so grateful.

    At the end of our walk, he pointed out that walking with me made him aware of all of the things/people/situations we passed during those blocks that he normally wouldn’t have given a second thought to. I actually pointed out that he was still at risk for being mugged, and he gave me a look that said, “You and I both know that’s not the same as being at risk for rape.”

    It was really nice to be with someone who gets it.

  23. I can empathize in one small way. I attend Yale as a graduate student and New Haven CT is a dirty crime-infested rathole and many friends were mugged, my car was broken into 3X, my apartment 2X, and after years there I became permanently cautious about being outside alone, ever.

    Later I found myself on a pastoral wooded midwestern campus and still could not shake the expectation that there were bad people hiding behind every gloriously colored fall-painted maple tree.

    Again, I know that this is insignificant relative to rape fear, but I can at least in a little way grasp the mindset.

    I’m sorry that our society makes this understandable

  24. I saw this question and thought I might be able to offer some experiences that might be fruitful for discussion (just registered here and everything!).

    Quick disclaimer, I’m an American man living in the desert mentioned in my username as a volunteer in the Peace Corps. The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps (Sorry, kind of legally obligated to say that). Now that’s out of the way…

    The experiences of volunteers here can be a world apart, largely due to what’s been termed here “the rape schedule.” If you ever visit the home of a family here, you will find people are friendly, overly generous, and more hospitable than just about anybody else in the world. That said, there is a large public/private divide in how people behave, with the public space being seen as a sort of no man’s land at times.

    This is where the experiences of female volunteers becomes especially trying. While they will be often invited and welcomed into homes in ways I won’t as a man, the public spaces have a tendency to be very insecure and even hostile at times. Every female volunteer serving with me has changed the way they dress (to be more in line with local concepts of modesty) and the way they travel and engage in activities in the public arena. Though part of this change in behavior is in an effort to integrate into the local community, a large part of it is done to lower the frequency of sexual harassment and reduce the risk of sexual assault and rape. For us, the topic of sexual harassment and assault is talked about with the same casualness and practicality that one might talk about what one wants to eat for dinner because basic strategies for avoiding it are part of female volunteers’ daily lives.

    While I do take some basic precautions to protect myself from the risk of assaults and mugging, I often do things my female comrades can’t – going to a cafe, going for a stroll at night, wearing just a t-shirt in public (elbows are pretty risque here!), etc. Some female volunteers engage in these behaviors, but they do it understanding the risks and with the knowledge that they will get at least a certain level of harassment no matter what they do (men here think that shouting sexual obscenities at random passersby is a sound method for finding a potential spouse for some reason I can’t comprehend).

    I bring this up, because the intensity of our situation here has given me much cause to reflect over the issues surrounding harassment and rape, both here and in the States.

    In the States, a person is statistically far more likely to be raped by someone they know (and probably someone they trusted). Rape perpetrated by a shadowy stranger, while something to be prepared against, is much more unlikely. This might be why some folks might view the fear as being out of proportion to the risk. Unfortunately, it’s the monster you know that is the greater risk to take precautions against (in the cases of close friends of mine who are survivors of sexual assault back home, it has always been someone they knew and often someone they thought they could trust at one time). But that just exacerbates the issue of the “rape schedule,” doesn’t it? I don’t know, I wish I could say something more insightful or helpful.

    I suspect that this difference between the reality and the fears though, is seen in the differences of behavior I have seen here and in the States. In my city back home, while I knew many women who would take basic precautions in the stereotypical dangerous places, but wouldn’t do many of these things in places they felt comfortable, such as their neighborhood, their university, or other places that are familiar and “safe.”

    In my community here, the “rape schedule” hits women when they walk out the door. They will be wearing clothing that covers at least their knees and elbows, if not more (even in the hot Saharan summer when it is unbearable). They might even cover their hair or face (about 30% of host-country women in my community cover their face). And the reality is that there is serious risk of assault in public. Everyone knows stories of sexual assaults and attempted assaults that have happened in public places. This is why families won’t let their daughters our after dark. The idea of a woman going for a jog or any sort of run in a public place sounds crazy in many parts of this country because it seems to risky. So female volunteers here radically alter their habits, such as finding ways to exercise in the privacy of their home instead.

    This kind of obvious, radical change in behavior really makes it clear how this kind of thing works. Even though the situation might be more intense here, the challenges facing women are different than those facing men merely because of gender almost everywhere. I think it is safe to say most people who live in cities, either men or women live on some sort of general “crime schedule,” taking basic precautions against everything from mugging to car theft. But women have this extra layer of concern that needs to be addressed. Even if there was no risk at all of sexual assault by a stranger in a public place, the presence of a fear that many women are taught from a young age or are socialized into by various forms of media has a drastic effect on behavior and psychology.

    That said, it seems less intense in the States. At least there, a woman can go for a run at night and feel reasonably safe as long as she takes precautions (as opposed to feeling endangered going for a run any time of day). This sounds like I’m saying it could be worse (such a useless truism), which isn’t what I’m going for. I guess I’m trying to highlight how this phenomenon is one of degrees and by observing these differences in intensity we can better understand and perceive it at work. My eyes were opened by my experiences here because while something like this is more a minor background thought in the US with almost negligible marginal costs on one’s time and energy, it is the elephant strolling down the street here, stepping on cars and wrecking storefronts. It’s easy to see now, even when it is in a more subdued or less intense manner like it is in the US. Bottom line, this is a thing that affects us and plays a role in gender relations and gendered behavior! That…probably wasn’t that helpful a thing to declare, but I just thought I’d make it clear. I just hope the experiences I mentioned act as food for thought and discussion.

    On a side note, I do have to agree with another commentator that the observed phenomenon of men being more likely to flinch and women being more likely to scream is likely not a consequence of this issue so much as something else. Just observe how men and women act at a Haunted House on Halloween or during a horror movie. Some women will scream and some men will scream, but it is likely to be in very different proportions. Men are more likely to flinch or jump (anecdotal evidence I suppose, but I don’t know of any studies on the matter unfortunately) than to scream. This is most definitely a socialized behavior, but seems to be more of the consequence of what behaviors are considered acceptable or positive in different genders. It’s cliche to say it, but boys don’t cry…or scream, in this case? I don’t think it represents a difference in fear, just a difference in socialized responses to fear. For example, I have an intense phobia of heights that can be almost paralyzing at times. Still, I am unlikely to scream, but will have other fear responses (labored breathing, wavering voice, intense desire to get the heck out of dodge). I don’t think that’s indicative of me having less fear than someone who screams, just a socialized tendency to not scream.

    Once again, anecdotal evidence, unfortunately. Anybody know any good studies on the topic of socialized fear responses? Sounds interesting. Maybe make a skepchic haunted house and analyze scream counts? Who says science can’t be fun and in the spirit of the season?

    Anyway, thanks for letting me ramble and sorry for the total lack of brevity. Peace.

  25. I’m sorry you feel you must live that way. I cannot imagine the strain, or the pain from having to live in constant fear. The few men who act out, who disrespect women, who rape, murder, beat and abuse women, are the exception, not the rule. Idiots like that make life difficult for all of us. Instead of improving, society has been deteriorating, as the lunatic fringe batters, demeans and belittles women.

    The men who treat women like this, with violence, disrespect and outright hatred, are the American Taliban. They are too stupid to recognize their neanderthal characteristics, to lazy to try to make something of themselves, and too pig-headed to understand no one is required to put up with them. They blame their own shortcomings on anyone unfortunate enough to be caught in their web, to represent the woman who raised them, or last turned them down, whether it was because they stank, were obnoxious, or any other good reason.

    It’s easy to blame others for our own failures, but blame does not changes WHO was really the responsible party. Until these chumps can accept their own actions as the root of their problems, we will continue to see and hear of the abuses they commit. So long as politicians refuse to accept responsibility for their participation in this lunacy, also, and stop using women for political beanbags, to bat around during campaigns, this abuse will go on. When state and federal legislators make the kinds of comments that have been in the news of late, it encourages the beasts, bozos and lunatics, too, at a time when they need to be discouraged, and slapped down, hard.

    I hope things turn around for the better, with the attention women’s issues are getting, it will make it harder for the perverts to continue to get away with their bad behavior. Maybe one day, we won’t have to hear of women “disappearing” or being found battered and dead. In the meantime, please accept one man’s apology for the crimes of of the abusers, and my heartfelt sympathy for the consequences you must live with, because of it. I don’t say this to let anyone slide, or to excuse anyone’s crimes, but rather as one small hand raised in friendship and support.

  26. Generally, all predators and prey have their times/conditions: some are diurnal, some nocturnal, etc. We’re not above that; where no other factors override, we make the most of time/conditions: we have a better time when we can see, and feel safer.

    Specifically, we each serve person phobias, suspicions, and, capacities, and logic. Predators like conditions disadvantageous to their prey. To the degree that the prey enters a predator’s zone of advantage, s/he enters a danger zone—sometimes as a risk taker, and sometimes as an unwitting potential victim.

    A predator’s primary need is power or advantage: a weaker or richer otherwise attractive, isolated prey. Risk, then, is determined by knowns: what a potential victim thnks s/he has to lose; and unknowns: what a predator might want. Picking time/circumstances gives us some real or imagined control over risk.

    While women recognize their bodies as being at risk, so might someone jogging at night in “Air Jordans.” Risk is a matter of possibility; willingness or reluctance to undertake it is a matter of probability. I think our biological heritage leaves us wired for and aware of the fact that probability is never zero. Need and desire drive us out; logic and paranoia mitigate; wrong or ignorant guesses make us meat.

  27. Too hasty; can you change these in my post and delete this note?

    Para 1: “have a better time” should be “are more effective”

    Para 2: “person phobias” should be “personal phobias”
    Para 2: the “and” following “suspicions” should go

    Para 3: “or” should follow “richer”

    Thanks very much, and sorry for my carelessness. My thoughts outdistance my fingers, and haste shunts proofreading to the end of the line.

  28. I feel pretty safe walking around at any time of day. I’m more cautious if I’ve had more to drink. BUT, I’m 5’10” with short hair, broad shoulders, and a very assertive walk. I frequently get mistaken for a man, if they don’t see my face. Also, for (only) 8 years, I had a large dog that went with me 80% of the time.

    While I do walk around a lot, I often carry a weight with me. This is more in response to aggressive drivers than rapists, per se. But cat-call me, and you might get your headlight broken or your side door dented. I’d be technically at fault for assault, but I know how to lie my way out of that. “he called me a dyke, officer”. I am HYPER-aware, altho I still walk wherever. I only get harassed on 2 of the corners that I walk thru on my 2.7 mile walk home from the bar.

    There are some things other women do that I don’t … check the backseat of their car before they open the door, call friends before leaving the house at certain times of day. Even women I know who are more “butch” than me are often much more cautious.

    I NEVER leave my drink for even a second in a bar. I don’t even know where I learned that trick. My mom never taught it to me, altho she sure worried about nighttime ambulations. I will drink the drink faster just to avoid leaving it while I go dance to a song (clearly not a perfect solution).

    I chain my wallet to my pants, I have added a luggage lock to my backpack in huge crowds. I carry my keys in my hand. I change my pace so I’m slower/faster than anyone else on the street with me. I have called a friend if I’ve felt unsafe (a couple times for a ride, other times to imply I had backup I guess).

    I think it’s super interesting the various and different ways people self-protect. One of my friends won’t let me be the aggressive pedestrian I want to be, in case she’s dragged into a fight. She’s from a bad part of Jersey, I’m not. Subtle differences, but everyone (including the smaller, gayer men) I know practices at least some of these tricks.

    I think an interesting thing is that when men in my past used to tell me not to do something in case I was harmed, I only listened if they weren’t abusive/controlling assholes (even before their identity was confirmed). It’s as if they knew violence could happen because they were all-too-willing to dish it out. Creeps.

  29. So – how can I, as privalged male, help here?

    Fisrt – a disclaimer. This isn’t intended to be another of those – “yeh, but what about us poor males?!” posts. If it reads like that, no doubt my poor writing skills have let me down again; but that’s not what I want to convey.

    So, I’m a guy. I move around city and rural landscapes with relative impunity, and I feel confident. I have never been attacked and seldom feel threatened. Time was, I used to notice women on the street avoiding me or showing definite signs of nervousness and feel “how dare they!”. I felt anoyed at their obvious suspicion that I was ‘some kind of rapist’, I didn’t realise my own privilage.

    But I learnt, and I’m still learning (Actually – ‘elevatorgate’ was a key element in helping me to see and think about my own privilage here.)

    So now I do realise that even though I’m no rapist,the reaction of women on the same street as me on a quiet night is not aimed at me personally, and its not actually an irrational fear on their part. After all, the only information they have on me at that point is that I am a guy, on the street, on my own. How should they know that I’m ‘safe’?

    So, here’s my question. What can I say or do in these circumstances to help, or at least minimise my impact? I’ve caught myself actually changing routes and walking ~away~ from lone women if, for example, they cross the street so as not to be walking on the same pavement (sidewalk) as me – but that seems extreme?

    What could I (and other men) do in circumstances where we are causing women to feel uncomfortable due to our mere coincidental presence. How can we help? (And please read my disclaimer at the top before answering!)


    1. You can change yourself, but you can’t force change in other people – there’s no way you’re going to make a woman on the street see you as safe. Your examples of walking away from someone late at night aren’t extreme, and is the best thing you can do, honestly.

      And it isn’t really extreme – women all over the place are changing their routes to avoid strangers in the night. You’re just joining in with that half of the population now.

      1. you’re right – it’s not really very extreme, is it?

        Its funny, this privilege thing – it’s like an onion. I think I’ve recognised my own privilege, and peeled it away, only to find another layer beneath. In this instance, the next layer of unrecognised privilege was my thought that ME having to change MY route was maybe extreme.

        Your point is well made, thanks.


  30. This entire thing is astonishingly depressing. I do worry when I’m walking along whether I am making a woman walking toward me or ahead of me nervous, and I try to make sure I leave space or find some other way of making it clear that I am not a threat — though I’m not sure exactly what that means.

    But what I really find depressing is that the standard American reaction to any problem appears to be to arm the population with concealed weapons. Because it’s not enough that trained firearms thugs — er, officers — occasionally blow away innocent people or taser a blind man with a stick, we need to have nervous amateurs packing heat as they walk around at night as well, and there’s certainly nothing that can go wrong with that.

    Can you folks just build a big wall around yourselves and leave the rest of us alone?

    1. Yes, the whole “carry a gun” thing is full of needless Bravado. To note: guns do not incapacitate attackers short of serious injury or death, and if the attacker has a gun or is just crazy, the situation may escalate.

      Pepper spray on the other hand DOES incapacitate attackers immediately giving time for escape and minimizing the possibility for escalation.

  31. OK, I am a man, I’m slightly taller than average, and I’m quite heavy set. As such it’s very rare that I feel threatened, especially as I live in a pretty safe area. I’m also a complete pussy cat who wouldn’t say boo to a goose.

    However, I am also acutely aware of how others perceive me and my presence. I have often found myself purely by chance walking down a dimly lit road only a dozen meters or so behind a single female. I am very mindful that my mere presence will often be putting her on edge. But what can I do? If practical I will slow down, or cross the road, in an attempt to increase the distance between us, but I don’t know if that actually helps ease a woman anxiety.

    1. Speaking for myself, someone slowing down would probably make me more paranoid, because I’d wonder if he was trying to make me think I was losing him so that I’d be unprepared for the coming attack.

      Crossing the road is great though. I appreciate when that happens.

  32. No, I have never lived on a rape schedule, and I never wear shoes that I can’t get full mobility out of because I’ve always hated heels and uncomfortable shoes. I’ve walked in the city, alone, at 2 or 3 in the evening. It’s really rare that I scream when startled.

    Only recently have I been behaving more cautiously. I know on one hand it’s because I have a son now, and I’m concerned about not being there for him if I were to die (this applies even to being more careful when driving, etc). Every once in awhile I think of the rape possibilities since I started reading feminist stuff, but typically I just react to incidents as they happen.

  33. I hope no one takes offense at this comment; but I think this is a destructive way to live. Yes, it might protect you from an attack. But at what cost? There has to be some level of chronic stress from feeling this way.

    And please correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t heart disease (cortisol can make this worse, right?) a much more prevalent than rape or murder?

    OF COURSE we should be smart, wise, alert. But by exercising confidence, every day. That keeps you healthy. This “rape schedule” sounds positively life-ruining to me.

    I run in the woods. By myself. I tell my boyfriend which place I’m running and I am always trying to learn new moves in martial arts (my job also had a self-defense workshop). Running alone for 10+ years I learned something: you can’t always be prepared for what’s going to happen.

    I was grabbed once. It was a semi-blizzard and my jogging spot (a reservoir) was all iced over. Two men, probably 60-70 years old but tall and strong, walked toward me. I joked that it was icy out.

    One man suddenly grabbed my wrist and said to the other guy, “I’ll meet you in the car”. I instinctively twisted my arm (this painfully twists the attacker’s wrist so they let go) and stepped back. The guy apologized and claimed he was “just trying to help me across the ice”.

    Well, he sounded sincere but I’m still grateful I’ve been running alone all these years. Far from putting me in danger, my opinion is it’s given me the physical and mental strength to be strong and smart, not worried.

    Do I get nervous sometimes? Yes. But it’s a controlled kind of nervousness, tempered by a confidence that’s served me well. Obviously this is just my personal experience, not advice to anyone.

    1. A lot of the problem is how rape is treated by society. The wrong things are taught: what counts as rape, that rapists will jump out and drag victims into dark alleys, that victims are responsible for their own safety, etc.

      It’s trained into people really early, and that’s part of why many women are afraid and many men don’t realize (understand/care) that women are scared of them. It’s hard to unlearn those responses especially when there’s a really good chance the threat is real.

      1. I wholeheartedly agree that much of the problem is societal. Hopefully I made it clear I’m not telling people how to feel and I’m certainly not downplaying the problems of rape or potential rape (I’m at risk too). Simply put, I hope that people with a crippling fear could find some solace and practical ways to protect themselves if they can manage to take some self-defense courses and find other ways to gain confidence. I’ve heard second hand that attackers don’t want to go after someone who looks like they could defend themselves or who might fight back. Not sure if it’s true but worth considering. Women looking nervous might actually be at more risk than someone who looks like they don’t give a flying f***.

      2. This just drives me to tears of anger.
        So pissed at this (especially with the comments of that one fucked up politician) I can barely get out what I want to say.

        Just who the tell is teaching this crap about rape and why? What do they gain? Power? Control?

        Would people accept the same arguments for child abuse or murder (wouldn’t be too surprised if some monsters do)?

        Even more upsetting is that it seems efforts to change these views about rape are likely to be met with comments from hoards of assholes that just don’t get it.
        I’d like to be proven wrong.

  34. ps by the way I was certainly not trying to say rape is not horrible, just that chronic worrying over it can be dangerous too.

    Also: funny thing about the incident, I considered punching the guy who grabbed me. But I thought, what if I’m wrong? Do I really want to punch someone? It’s so odd what goes through your mind when something bad happens.

    1. Sort of reminds me of an incident actress Pauley Perrette described (and later deleted), except it had more to do with media reaction than if she was wrong to act.

  35. Stranger rape is about 4% of all rapes. When I was a kid and my parents found out that I was dating a boy they were very careful to point out the possibility of a hate crime. They warned me about HIV, too. They didn’t have anything else to say about the matter.

    My parents were trying to intimidate me out of my sexual orientation. I think there’s the same kind of intimidation going on when it comes to how we talk about stranger rape. We don’t really talk about rape. 96% of rape victims have an experience they will never see on tv, and will only very rarely read about. The silence about this experience is so bad that when a woman is the victim of a very typical rape it’s so different from what she expected that she doesn’t recognize it as rape. This is an experience shared by every rape victim I personally know. It’s also one I’ve only read one article about.

    It’s the same from the perpetrator’s side as well. People that do not consider themselves rapists will readily admit to rape if you ask them about the behavior without defining it as rape. When I was young I was living as a boy. I had this experience that still sends chills down my spine. I had just met this girl, we were hanging out, and she got very intoxicated. I didn’t have sex with her, but I felt like I was supposed to, and that there was something wrong with me for that.

    I remember how shocked I was at the reality of that experience, because the only message I’d ever heard about women being drunk was that they were easier to have sex with. I’d never heard of anybody being too drunk to consent, which clearly she was. It clear to me that that would be a horrible violation (it wasn’t at all clear to me that it would have been rape) and I couldn’t understand why I’d never heard a story of such a thing happening. Then I realized that this is probably what people were talking about when they said some girl was okay with it at the time but changed her mind later.

    I don’t think we’re afraid to walk outside because of the reality of rape. (We’d be more afraid of the trusted friend offering to walk us home) I think we’re afraid to walk outside because our culture actively threatens us with rape. We’re threatened by well meaning warnings about stranger rape. We’re threatened by catcalling and unwanted advances. There’s a few guys trying to get laid, but most of that stuff is just guys trying to make women feel uncomfortable. (I’ve actually tested this. I said yes to a guy making an unwanted advance. He responded with confusion followed by profanity and slut-shaming)

    The biggest threat is that we will be on our own if we are raped by a stranger. Society has made it clear that if go where we’ve been told is dangerous or if we wear what we’ve been told is dangerous we will be on our own if we are raped. I think that’s why we’re so afraid.

    1. Well… Wow….

      1. When I was raped in college, I KNEW it was rape. But I couldn’t bring myself to believe it was rape. I didn’t shower or wash my clothes… But I spent so much time trying to figure out what happened.

      2. It was done by the guy who walked me home.

      And I’ve never really put much thought into how fucked up that is as a big picture thing.

  36. I really have to say this to all the women out there. You really need to learn a martial art. That will, I promise, change everything for you. When you realize that the vast majority of even “big strong males” don’t actually know that much about fighting, then the terror-factor (upon which these men rely) will be gone. More than that, if you stick with it to a real black belt or equivalent, you will know deep down inside that the number of men that can force you into something you don’t want to do is just about zero.

    This won’t make you much less jittery while out on the streets, but now you will be jittery because you don’t want to be placed in a position where you might have to beat a man to death.

  37. When I was in high school, I was raped. When I was in college, I worked to become a peer educator for rape prevention and domestic violence. That was 20 years ago. I still “follow the rules”, as I think of it; park safely or even valet, keys out, identify my car, walk briskly with purpose, head up, surveying the area, looking for other people and escape routes, don’t epitomize the victim charchterisics. Yes, it’s completelty fucked up that we live in a world where half the population lives with some degree of constant threat…I am not paranoid, I’m a realist. Rape happens, and we have to do what we can to lower whatever odds we can control. The law hardly considers it a serious crime, and my experiences as a rape crisis counselor have shown that frequently, unless the woman knows her attacker, they have nowhere to look anyhow. And if she is able to identify her attacker, the defendant’s attorney’s first line of attack is often to somehow blame the victim (what was she doing there? What was she wearing? As if that has anything to do with it).I didn’t have the courage as a teen to even say what had happened to me at the time. I know who raped me, but after five years, the statute of limitations ran out and he cannot be prosecuted. When I was 22, I had minor surgery to correct for scar tissue left by the events, and that was like reliving the whole thing. It’s been almost 20 years since then and I guarantee I am still affected. And so is every other woman, out walking around, minding her own business, thinking she is safe.
    I thought things had changed but in 1998 I was nearly arrested for drunk and disorderly (I had not had a single drink) because I was assaulted at a concert. A man pushed me up against a wall and groped between my legs, he put his hand down my pants and put his fingers in my vagina, crushing me with his mouth on my mouth. I remember thinking, I can’t belive this is hapening to me, I was just going to the bathroom. It was already loud, I guess other people thought we were consensually making out. He had me pinned but I managed to get away by droppinng down in a crouch; I was completely panicked. I ran throught the crowd to the front door of the venue where I knew there was a policeman. I said I wanted to report an assault and that I could identify my attacker. I was flustered but I gave an account of what happened. The POLICE OFFICER said, “If you don’t want that to happen to you then you shouldn’t come to places like this”. To a rock concert. I literally exploded. I insisted he at least take my statement. He told me to settle down or else I’d be arrested. I said PLEASE, arrest me! I’d love to go downtown and be examined because I am sure there is physical evidence on me! He was reaching for his handcuffs when a friend saw me, came over, and basically dragged me away, saying I did not want to get arrested, etc. I was so angry and I still am. I don’t go around with a chip on my shoulder but I am 5’10” and 200lbs and I’ve been assaulted…no woman is “safe”.

  38. I cannot imagine being so afraid all the time.
    When I was little my dad smacked us around, we lived in terror. So when I grew up I learned a martial art. I could kill a guy with my hands and the way I walk signifies this somehow. I am afraid of no-one. (You don’t have to kill them, a finger in the eye is quite adequate.)

    All the same I am uncomfortable being alone in a lift with a stranger. If someone is walking behind me at night I stop and look till he goes past. If I am walking behind someone I walk extra loud and maybe hum a bit.

    This year on holiday I was in an East European city and wandered into a scruffy area. I confess I was a bit uneasy. So when a big tattoed guy with a shaved head came up to me while studying my streetmap I squared my shoulders and looked tough. So he says, “Can I help you?”. And I say, this restaurant here, and he shows me the way and points me in the right direction, and told me he had worked in London and really liked it, and I felt rather ashamed.

  39. It’s not just rape: because of our smaller stature and relative lack of upper body strength,females make better targets for all violent crimes. So we have to be tough, wily, and maybe a little intimidating. Yes, it’s fucked up, and it shows how far our species still has to go as far as civilizing itself goes. Until we are truly successful at civilizing ourselves, I, as an individual woman, take some small pride in not just being tough “for a girl”, but in ensuring that anybody who targets me will rue that choice. Fucked up? Definitely. But the burqa solution just doesn’t do it for me.

  40. I have this awesome shop at this awesome hackerspace which is about a 15 minute walk from my house. But I always take a cab home. I’m a big girl and not anyone’s idea of a ‘standard rape target’, I don’t think. But I’ve been scared so many times before that I just can’t fathom walking home late at night from my shop (through a poorly-lighted semi-industrial area).

    Every time someone overhears me ordering a cab I feel self-conscious, especially if they lean more towards the hippie/greenie side of the scale. But… Big ole ‘tough’ me is frightened to death of that being the night some nutbag decides he hates dykes and wants to take it out on conveniently-walking-alone late at night me.

    I’ll never forget the first time I consciously realized that I was in jeopardy for sexual assault. And I remember every time since as well. To this day, for instance, I can vividly recall the details of a much younger me walking down El Cajon Blvd. in San Diego at night as a car full of 20-something year old guys slowly followed me, yelling out things they thought they might like to do to me. If they’d decided to act, no one was around and I would have been powerless against them. Thankfully they didn’t. I went home and cried and tried not to throw up.

    You don’t forget that feeling. It stays with you forever.

  41. Thinking about this, I realise what has happened. All these women are terrified to leave the house because people keep telling them how dangerous it is. They (the men) want us to be scared of them because we then need help and protection from them (the men). It’s like some kind of mafia protection racket.

    Take your life into your own hands. Is it really that dangerous? Honestly? What are the crime statistics where you live?

    And if you do live in a bad place, carry a pepper spray or a zapper. Take martial arts lessons. Take control of your fear. You have as much right to walk the street as everyone else.

    1. “And if you do live in a bad place, carry a pepper spray or a zapper. Take martial arts lessons. Take control of your fear. You have as much right to walk the street as everyone else”

      Ah, but what if, for some reason, you don’t or CAN’T “take control of your fear”? Then it’s your fault? You’re just blaming the victim along with everyone else. It’s just a different sort of tune.


      I am a pretty tough woman. I’ve lived on my own in the city for a long time, and while I’m not from a rough area exactly, I’m from the middle of the desert and we grew up tough and strong. I know how to shoot a gun. I’ve even been a detention officer, at the green age of 18.

      I’ve been through some shit, seen some shit, and have been in a few fights. I can hold my own. I am not made afraid easily.

      But for my first eight years in Phoenix (after moving from a very, very small town), I didn’t have a car, and I lived on my own. I walked a LOT — even at night.

      I was mostly not afraid.

      But sometimes? I WAS AFRAID.

      Google the Baseline Killer. He was killing IN MY AREA for over a year.

      Sometime during that year, I was walking to the bus stop before dawn. It was dark and very cold. A truck came up slowly behind me and then STOPPED and I heard, “Want a ride, baby?” It was too dark to see him clearly.

      I screamed and I FUCKING RAN. (Would you fucking believe I’ve had men tell me that I was WRONG to assume this strange man in a car when it was dark out had notorious plans for me?? That I shouldn’t assume that all men are rapists? That maybe he was just being NICE AND FRIENDLY?)

      Or how about that time I was all alone at dusk waiting for the bus, and some guy came up to me and decided to start CARESSING ME from head-to-toe?

      For some reason, I wasn’t afraid then. Just confused. I just stood there. It was like he had known me forever, even though we had only just met, moments before. I wonder now if maybe he was mentally ill and thought I was someone else; or just wanted to cop a feel. But it was strangely non-sexual (he never even touched my boobs and my boobs are hard to miss).

      Or what about that time some guy on the bus started to say very nasty things to me, along with nasty gestures….and the bus driver DID NOT CARE. He just shrugged and kept driving. How nice.

      Or how about that time I SWEAR I saw the Baseline Killer on the bus with me and called the hot line.

      Yeah, I think if you’re walking alone at night, there is plenty to be afraid of.

      Nearly every woman I know who has spent any time walking alone outside — day or night — has a frightening story to tell. At least one.

      But do you fucking KNOW what would happen if we let our guard down and got attacked?

      “Why weren’t you more careful?”

      So those men who have told me that I should not have been afraid of that strange man asking me for a ride “baby” in the middle of the night … would probably also have told me “you deserved it!” if I had gotten in and then gotten attacked (if I survived to hear them victim blame me).

      So what’s the answer if we decide NOT to live in fear, and we’re attacked?

      We’re FUCKED either way.

      1. Re. blaming the victim, in one of their episodes the Godless Bitches brought up a study in which two groups of people were each shown a different version of the same video depicting a conversation between a man and a woman. The two versions were both identical apart from the ending: In one version the man proposes to the woman, and in the other version he rapes her. The participants were then asked to assess whether there had been any clues as to what was about to happen in the prior conversation. Those who had seen the first version saw nothing threatening about the situation, whereas those who had seen the second version thought the warning signs were obvious, and the woman should have seen what was coming from miles away, despite the situation being identical in both cases (I may get some of the details wrong).

        One of the hosts then made a very telling observation about the people who go on about how ridiculous it is to “freak out over being offered coffee” (as if saying “Guys, don’t do that” had anything at all to do with “freaking out” and as if the offer to have coffee was all there was to it): Is there any doubt in anyone’s minds that the people saying this would be the very first to blame Rebecca if she had followed the guy to his hotel room and something bad had happened? (“What the hell was she thinking?! A stranger in an elevator
        invites you to his room for ‘coffee’ at four o clock in the morning, and you think that’s all he has in mind?! How naive can you get?!” etc… etc…)

    2. “Take your life into your own hands.

      AND JESUS CHRIST, women shouldn’t have to learn self defense or how to use pepper spray or how to shoot a gun or BUY a gun. You also realize this shit isn’t free, right?

      And that not everyone is able-bodied enough to do it, right?

      You’re basically telling us that we MUST fight for our lives. …Or what? What if we don’t? Or can’t?

      This shit pisses me off.

      I CAN fight for myself, and I would, but not everyone can, or wants to. Or should.

      We shouldn’t live in a society where people tell us to “fight for our lives”.

      While in the same sentence telling us not to live in fear.

      Oh, you must learn self-defense! But don’t live in fear.

      You must carry pepper spray! But don’t live in fear.

      It doesn’t even make sense! You’re contradicting yourself!

      But we’re used to the contradictions.

    3. ALSO, why are people acting like pepper spray is some get out of rape free card???

      It is not.

      First, if it doesn’t hit your target (a possibility), it isn’t going to do shit.

      Or if, you’re not quick enough, and they grab it first (also a possibility).

      Or the attacker is really hopped up on any sort of drug. Meth and PCP for example will make it VERY difficult for an assailant to be knocked down, if they are very angry and very determined.

      And then your assailant has your pepper spray.

      Or gun.


      Also, everyone advocating that we must carry weapons: This shit isn’t free. Nor are the self-defense classes. Guns especially are EXPENSIVE.

      Ahh, yeah. But living as a woman in this world is expensive, isn’t it? We must “take our lives into our own hand” “particularly if you live in a bad neighborhood”. (I like what is not stated but implied — “or move somewhere not so dangerous”.)

      I also love when things like self-defense and weapons are talked about but the implications behind them aren’t.





      Why must women “take their lives into their own hands” just to live like equals in this world??? Why should women HAVE to learn self-defense? Just to walk outside alone?

      The unsaid-implication is that if you didn’t “take your lives into your own hands”, you didn’t do ENOUGH. You didn’t learn self-defense — so it’s your fault. You weren’t carrying mace — so it’s your fault. You were unable to use that gun — so it’s your fault. You were not able-bodied enough to defend yourself — so it’s your fault (you should have stayed inside! OR move somewhere safer!).

      And this discussion always leaves out the fact that “self-defense classes” are NOT the same thing as real life attacks.

      Having been in some gnarly situations, I can tell you right now, it’s hard to stop and think, unless you’re VERY prepared and VERY trained (which takes time, money, and ability).

      Just because you took a few Wednesday afternoon self-defense classes does not mean you are going to be able to actually defend yourself against a very strong, possibly drugged-up, and very determined person who very much wants to harm you.

      Self-defense classes are not get out of rape free cards.

      Can we stop acting like they are????

  42. Yes, life is complicated, and the protection racket similarities are only nullified by the fact that it’s not generally the same group of men on both sides of the racket.

    Actually, thank you for the condescending tone of your comment, it -is- that dangerous in many places, at night without the protection of crowds for a woman who is -never- going to look tough enough to defend herself to the casual observer, despite my fencing and Tae Kwon Do classes.

    I’ve been evaluating neighborhood crime rates as part of the househunting process, and even the safer urban neighborhoods in my neck of the woods have rape, mugging, and assault statistics that mean it could quite feasibly happen to me there.

    I refuse to follow your order to “take control of my fear” (ie, behave according to the “you’re as safe as you want to be, dude” attitude that statistics so thoroughly disprove). You do not have the right to give me that order. I have as much -right- to walk the streets as anyone else, but my -risks- are greater than a man’s to be chosen as an easier target for any kind of violent crime: rape, mugging, assault, murder. Do not order me to be stupid and ignore that.

  43. Also, no, I’m not hiding in my house accepting my societal victim role. I have things that need to be done, even when they aren’t safe. I have a life to live. I just live it with an awareness that I’m not, in practical terms about violence, the top of the food chain. Again, coping is NOT endorsing.

    I really resent the implication of your comment that it’s -my- duty to basically “toughen up and get over it”. It’s that one baby step previous to blaming the victim who didn’t toughen up in time (or couldn’t) or saying that society shouldn’t have to address the problems of violence because people should “take control of their fear” personally.

    OK, /rant

  44. For some reason, I wasn’t afraid then. Just confused. I just stood there. It was like he had known me forever, even though we had only just met, moments before. I wonder now if maybe he was mentally ill and thought I was someone else; or just wanted to cop a feel. But it was strangely non-sexual (he never even touched my boobs and my boobs are hard to miss).

    I’ve told this story before. And I want to highlight it because I think it’s important.

    I just stood there.

    ME! *I* just stood there! Anyone who knows me knows I am not one to just STAND there.

    But I did.

    I had no fucking idea what to do. Well, I did — after the fact.

    But man, I was frozen to that spot, as he felt me up, from head to toe. I think maybe if he had attempted to touch me in my private area, or my chest, I may have reacted — but by then it probably would have been too late (what if he had a knife or gun?).

    But he didn’t, and the bus came, which broke me out of my daze, and I ran on as soon as I can.

    I was a detention officer once! I have actually dealt with this kind of crap before (inmates getting too close for comfort) — and I reacted just fine THEN.

    But this was not in the same sort of situation. It was totally random and completely unexpected. I was used to walking alone in the evenings in my city and familiar with the area, so I was probably not even paying that much attention.

    So, I wasn’t living in fear … but according to Sally, I didn’t “take control of my own life” … so now I’m confused!

    Ahh, the contradictions of living as a woman in this society!

  45. Taking note of what Marilove has said, and thinking of solutions – prevention has to be better than cure and education has to be a big part of it.

    Is this topic covered at all in sex education classes now?

    I can see that this would be fraught with problems as even in this Skepchick community there is disagreement on what an ideal stance should be.

    Damned if you do and damned if you don’t, for sure.

    Nevertheless, sex ed has evolved out of sight in sophistication even in my lifetime. What we were taught in the early sixties was laughably primitive compared to today – and even that was 100 times better than previous generations.

    I wonder what is in place now and what could be done in terms of education?

    1. “Is this topic covered at all in sex education classes now”

      Don’t know about now, although I do know I wasn’t taught in the lousy excuse for sex ed I went through in school, which was more than a decade ago.

      I imagine it’s only gotten worse since then.

      Much of what Marilove said would be a good start in such education.

  46. Also, the best advice if you’re in a situation is not to attack — you do not know the assailant’s ability; you do not know if they are drugged up; you just don’t know — IT IS TO RUN.

    Get the fuck out of there. Make as much noise and movement as you can. Scream, yell, flail your arms, and MOTHERFUCKING RUN.

    To be honest, I almost feel advice like, “take self defense classes!!” and “carry pepper spray! or a gun!” is perhaps way, way misleading.

    The truth of the matter is that you shouldn’t try to fight or harm your attacker — the first thing you need to do is get the fuck out of there.

    And of course none of this even matters when it comes to most situations of sexual assault and rape — since you’re dealing with someone you know.

    1. Yeppers, running is best, and I’d like to add: getting away is ALWAYS the critical part of defense strategy.

      Just another reason to regret my asthma. Anything longer than a short dash and I’m hosed.

    2. I think it does matter, because this shit happens often in major urban areas.

      Although creepy guys might not full out rape a woman, they might verbally harass her or as you point out marilove, grope her or strike her. And there’s almost always a sexual dimension to it.

  47. Women do tend to have much greater risk aversion than men and thus are much more prone to be anxious and cautious but get your facts straight because:

    It is 90 times more probable for you to be victim of any kind of robbery, assault, burglary or theft than of rape.

    Also it is 18 times more probable for you to be victim of any kind of violent crime than of rape.

    Also rape is more probable to be inflicted by a close person than by an stranger.

    1. “Get your facts straight because”

      Way to be a condescending asshole!

      It may have helped if you’d read through the comments. All of this has already been discussed, several times, in several threads. Part of our discussion has included why we feel this fear, even though realistically we are aware that, statistically, we probably won’t get raped by a stranger on the street. That DOES NOT change the very real fear we feel, which is perpetuated by society.

      If you had read through the comments, you’ll also see that at least one person touched on that the fear isn’t necessarily ALL about the rapist; but it’s also about the fear of society in regards to rape.

      I’m going to leave it up to YOU, now, to read through the rest of the comments.

      1. Well, I don’t have the time or the energy to read all the comments but those are the facts. If you can’t avoid being paranoic about being raped when it is more probable that you die in a car accident then you need some special kind of help in order to have a happy life.

        And I know how it feels to have rape happen near you. My cousing was raped by the border patrol.

        1. Tell me more about these car accidents, sir. Is there anything I can do to protect myself from them? I’ve made the choice from this moment on to never worry about rape and focus all my fear on cars.

          Thank you, man who understands my life because he has a cousin.

          1. Well, I don’t really understand your paranoia but yes, It is more probable for you to be on a deadly car accident so maybe you start worrying more about driving safely and a bit less about being raped by strangers on the street when only 1 in every 20 rapes is perpetrated by strangers.

          2. I have been raped. NO, it wasn’t by a stranger, but you do realize that being raped makes EVERY possibility of rape FAR MORE REAL, right?

            Of course, I also had my ex best friend tell me I’ve never actually been raped. How fun.

            Seriously, fuck you. Go be an asshole somewhere else if you’re not even interested in reading the fucking discussion.

          3. What an odd assumption to think I don’t wear a seatbelt because I worry about being attacked while running alone at night.

        2. Oh, I see. So you *don’t* really care about us or anyone that this sort of thing effects.

          You just want to make sure that you tell us the FACTS.

          Why are you even here, if you can’t even bother to read the discussion before leaving a comment?

          We already know the facts. You’re not adding to the discussion at all. You’re just being an asshole.

        3. Let’s try another context, shall we?

          I assume most here know how low the odds are of being attacked by a shark, yes?

          Given the relation of those odds to that of a car accident, should this mean that one shouldn’t exercise caution by not swimming in murky water? Or that they can go ahead and swim alone, especially in brackish water or at night? Or that one can freely swim in areas populated by seals or if they swim near fish processing facilites?

          Such a person that does such an act would be considered having a death wish, AFAIK.

          When ones does enter the water (fresh or salt hardly matters, considering the nature of bull sharks, as well as the potential of other dangers), one does so with caution.

          The same goes with rape, which of course is far, far more probable.
          My point is that there’s a difference between one exercising caution and one being paranoid.

          I suggest you learn it.

    2. Also, I’ve had some REALLY close, scary calls, myself.

      Oh, and one time, on the street I used to live in, a woman was pulled into an alley and raped at 11am. Just a block from my apartment. I had been walking down that street THAT DAY.

      Have you ever considered how that fucking FEELS? To know a woman on your street was attacked in broad-daylight as you were walking to McDonald’s?

      It’s not a nice feeling.

    3. I cry bullshit on those statistics. If the lifetime probability of rape is 1/6 then the crimes mentioned become more than certainty.

      Maybe for some primitive and limited definitions of rape, it may apply.

      And, what Marilove said.

      1. Agreed.

        I think stats hold little meaning in such cases when rape is involved.

        It’s the reality of the situation that matters.
        And it sucks.

        1. Absolutely.

          Regarding education, there is some good info in this

          Also, there were some government ads on TV a while back that were a step in the right direction, I think.

          They started with a young bloke saying something like
          “She told me to stop, but I just kept going (derp)”
          Sudden stop, freeze frame, stern voiceover

          There were a few of these but all too few I think.

          Elyse, I hope I’m not too way off topic with this.

      2. Not that Hector cares. He just wants to MAKE SURE we know the “facts”. Even though they are just some random facts and ignore all the context of the life women and many LBQT folks live in.

        1. Hector doesn’t matter.

          But I would encourage anybody interested in prevention strategies to check out that linked paper by Professor Moira Carmody for the Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault.

          1. I’d be really interested to see what you as an activist think of that.

            I’m thinking along the lines of, If we had all the money from the War on Drugs, how would we spend it towards the War on Rape?

            @Elyse Maybe a good topic for another thread?

          2. I read the paper and found it to be excellent.

            I think it also deserves it’s own topic.

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