Sunday, September 14, 2014

Woman in a City

*Trigger warnings for language and discussions of sexual violence.

All women is not an exaggeration here, either, friends.

    I was shamelessly singing Mat Kearney to myself as I hurried back home. It was a crisp Sunday evening and Boston glowed behind me, sending a multitude of colors shimmering off the Charles River. I passed the campus I'd attend class early the next morning, sped up as I approached my apartment.
    In the day I take a shortcut through a side street, but at night I opted to take the "safer" main street.
    I was kinda lost in thought and song, in a mood as bright as the city.
    So when I heard his taunt, I didn't realize that the old man was yelling at me until I saw that his eyes were fixated on me.
    My heart sped up, my fists curled, and all I could think was I'm almost home.
    But what if he was following me?
    With a shiver, I whirled around. No old man.
    When I turned onto the side street, I passed two guys on their phones. Their mere presence typically only provokes the slightest unease, but now it provoked actual fear.

    If you don't think feminism is needed, you have never imagined being a woman in a city.
    The old man invited me to "do something" with him if I "have that feeling" while I was walking alone at night, sure.
    I've also been invited to fuck in broad daylight. While I was in a group.

    I've been hollered at by old men on benches dressed in one of my favorite skirts and feeling cute.
    I've also been heckled for my "fine ass" dressed in a oversized jacket and shorts, and invited to flash while I'm wearing a loose T-shirt and shorts (and no, I don't have long legs, so don't tell me shorts were the problem).

    I'm tired of being scared of men. Men are complex human beings with God's image.
    No, I'm not tired. "Tired" is too nice a word. I'm freaking sick of this.
    I'm freaking sick of having to take care that I'm walking in well-lit sections so I probably won't get raped.* And, as Sunday night showed, there's no avoiding harassment, none at all.
    I'm freaking sick of having to worry about sexual assault on my way home from work or a friend's house at, say, 7 or 8 pm.

    When the system enforces one gender to take precautions to avoid attacks by another gender, that is a huge problem. Why can't we be one united body of human beings? Different, we all are, man or woman or intersex, but why can't we all be understood as human beings? God made us! We're awesome! We're unique! We can celebrate without needing power! Please, let's love each other. Please.
     We need to love each other.

    Jesus have mercy. On all of us. Give us hope.


*I realize sexual assault happens to men too, and I'm not trying to diminish that horror; I'm merely writing my own experiences here.

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