woman

The fear of being a woman

It’s no secret that I am a woman. I was once a girl and grew up with 3 sisters and no brothers. It’s a given that my mum, would’ve been told countless times “oooh but you have to worry about girls more!”

How often have you heard the above statement when someone announces the sex of their unborn child or their desire to have a particular sex. Only for someone to chip in with “well boys are less of a worry, they can look after themselves.” “You always have to worry about girls!”

Isn’t it about time we started to question why it is exactly that we need to worry about girls more?!

I was raised to be a strong, independent, self-sufficient woman.
That aside, I’ve grown up with the constant reminder that you don’t go out alone at night.

If I’m out with a group of girls we all text one another to say we are home safe if we drive ourselves. If we are getting dropped off we wait to make sure “they are in safe”.

The majority of men DO NOT have to do this. The thought doesn’t even cross their minds. Yes there is a risk of a man getting mugged, attacked or even raped when they are out alone.But for a woman it’s almost a constant worry.

How many times have you seen in the news that a girl walking home through the park at 11pm or 1am was attacked, raped or even murdered! I will guarantee that a huge majority of us thought or said “well she was silly being out on her own that time of night”.

Social media is rife with women and men realising this and speaking out about it. Articles such as this, highlight how women everyday feel fearful of this world we live in. I can’t believe myself that in 34 years, I haven’t questioned why we live this way.

It wasn’t until Mollie Tibbetts murder earlier in the year that I began reading tweets and stories from women who no longer feel safe to jog alone. Women who change their jogging course daily to avoid becoming predictable and an easy target for assault.

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My social life would be a completely different story if I didn’t HAVE to worry about getting home alone on the train. I’ve got to the grand old age of 34 and thankfully never had anything horrifying happen to me. But I’ve always played it safe and careful. Isn’t it sad I’ve had to live with that thought always in my mind.

Take this Thursday for example. I was invited to an event in London, I live in mid Essex. The event is in the evening and I so wanted to go and meet the fellow blogger who organised it. But I declined. On the basis I wasn’t comfortable travelling home at night, alone on the train.
Even if this wasn’t a hesitation of my own, my husband, mum and no doubt anyone that cares about me, would think this was dangerous and foolish.
Even in the daytime I often go for walks round the river alone. Sometimes there is no one else for miles. Other times I see a man approaching in the distance or from behind and I have to make a decision.
Should I up my pace or slow down? If I let him get in front of me I can be better armed to protect myself, rather than him attack me from behind? These are not the kind of thoughts that make me feel like I’ve had a leisurely walk.

The more I think about it, the more I realise we have such a long way to go before women can ever feel comfortable in this world.

 

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Over the past 50 years, society has become a more accepting place. Women are finally gaining a sense of equality. I know there are many other groups and identities that are continually fighting for acceptance and to put an end to prejudice. I can only speak for being an able-bodied, heterosexual woman.

This post actually isn’t attacking all men. Of course it’s not. I have and have had male friends and family, I have a son! I know not all men are likely to commit these crimes. But it doesn’t mean the threat isn’t very real. Some call it toxic masculinity.

I personally can’t ever see an end to this. In many countries such as the UK, US, Denmark and France, women have gained a lot more respect. That’s not to say there aren’t still men in these countries attacking  women, there are.

But there are still many countries around the world whereby women are considered to be second-rate citizens.

In Saudi Arabia, where in only the last 10  years women have been deemed legally allowed to drive a car, play sports and compete in the olympics, and attend university.

A quick internet search reveals Iraq, Mali, Sudan, Niger and Pakistan  are in the top ten for countries in the world where women are treated the worst.

Deprived of education, abused, raped, mutilated, married off during childhood, sold into the sex industry! And here’s me worrying about the simple task of taking a walk down the street at night.

My point is that we have the ability to travel between countries and continents with ease now. Cultures and nationalities merge like they never have before, but attitudes towards women vary vastly from country to country.
So it’s not a case of educating and changing the mentality in just one country alone. This has to be a worldwide thing.
I honestly cannot imagine it for hundreds of years. And of course there always be rebels to the cause. Just another reason I despair at the world.

Will it ever feel safe to be a woman?

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