Walking Home Alone (Part 2)
Walking Home Alone (Part 2)
[Image] An empty city street with a nondescript person walking along the sidewalk.
[Caption] When you walk down the street you see this
[Image] The same image as in Panel 1 but with text bubbles overlaid.
[Caption] When I walk down the street:
Bubble 1 points to the sidewalk across the street from the walking figure. Bubble says “Change sides?”
Bubble 2 points to the centre of the road and says “Call a cab?”
Bubble 3 points to a corner behind the walking figure, and says “What is the escape plan?
Bubble 4 points to shadows along the street and says “Watch.”
Bubble 5 points to the sidewalk ahead of the figure and says “Phone pre-dialled to 911? Hands around keys?
[Image] Two persons. Person 1 is a woman and looks annoyed. Person 2 is a man and looks excited.
Man: “Sounds like a spy movie!”
Woman:” Except I’m not doing anything wrong so I shouldn’t have to, and it’s without pay, respect, backup, sexiness…”
Man: “So nothing like a spy movie.”
I am a woman in my mid/late twenties and I consider myself very lucky: I have only been physically attacked twice in my life. Once when I was eleven walking home from school, and a man appeared out of a driveway and grabbed me. I fell, yelped, and was upright again in time to watch him run across the street and look at me, waiting to see if help would come. I bolted, and made it to my grandmother’s house with nothing worse than a skinned elbow.
The second time, I was sixteen, and I was walking home from school again. I lived in a very safe neighbourhood. I was fumbling with my house keys on the doorstep of my family’s home when I heard a shuffle behind me. I turned around just in time to see a face and a hand reaching out to my neck. Instinctively, I turned around, twisted to try to lessen his grip, and caught a glimpse of something metallic and sharp as he closed his hand around my neck. By this point I was screaming bloody murder, and as soon as his hand closed, he released it, and ran off. To this day I don’t know if the shiny thing his other hand was holding was a knife, a nail, or just a really sharp pencil.
These are barely blips on the radar compared to the terror many women experience, and yet they taught me that girls and women have to worry about things that their male counterparts – even the best well-meaning friends – never even consider. When I go out now, I call a cab, since I am lucky enough to afford it, or I bring the girlfriends who, like me, know the dangers of walking while female. It tends to cost more to get home safely for me than for a man. If I do take public transport, I walk to my bus-stop with my ears pricked right up, aware of every shadow in the streetlights around me. When I’m walking I’ll have my hands around my keys in my coat pocket. I change sides of the street, turn around and double-back, and have my phone pre-dialed to 911 if I notice a man walking anywhere in the vicinity.
I don’t think about these actions much – they are just a part of my everyday life. But when I stop, and look at my fear straight on, I realize that it’s part of a shared terror that almost all women face, albeit in widely varying degrees. Trying to get home safely can be a dangerous activity when you are female.