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.
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.