The murder of Sarah Everard has highlighted an important issue for women: we aren’t safe walking alone at night. Can’t women feel safe?
Sarah Everard was a Londoner. She was walking home around 9pm and went missing. Then police found her dead body. It’s so infuriating that this terrible crime happened and not one single woman is surprised. A grown woman should be perfectly safe walking home by herself. Unfortunately, that’s not the world we live in.
Women always have to think about safety when going out on their own, especially after dark.
We carry pepper spray. We keep our car keys ready in our hands. We walk with a purpose. We walk in groups. Men don’t even think about these things. It’s so unfair and it makes me so mad. When I was in college, I would wait for a group of people to walk past before I would venture out of a building by myself at night. I felt like I was less likely to be attacked if other people were nearby and if the worst happened, at least there would be people to hear me scream. My husband, on the other hand, felt perfectly safe just walking out on his own whenever he felt like it.
I am absolutely livid about victim-blaming too.
Some people say that women shouldn’t be out alone at night. We shouldn’t wear revealing clothes. We shouldn’t be drunk in public. They imply, or even downright state, that if women do any of these things, it’s their own fault if they get attacked. That’s complete baloney. No matter what a woman does, it doesn’t give anyone the right to violate her safety.
Chanel Miller is a perfect example of this. Perhaps you’ve never heard of her? That’s probably because she was described as the “unconscious intoxicated woman” by newspapers reporting on her sexual assault by Brock Turner. This assault changed Chanel’s life. How long did Brock Turner spend in jail? Three months. Apparently, the judge thought that the perpetrator’s future mattered much more than the victim’s safety. The only positive in this case is that the judge got recalled after his terrible decision.
This issue of women’s safety is affecting my parenting.
Both of my children are interested in walking to school by themselves. I’m much more worried about my daughter walking alone than about my son doing the exact same thing. It’s certainly not because my son is more responsible than my daughter. It’s simply because she is a girl. I worry more about her getting kidnapped or harassed just because she is female. I’m not comfortable with my daughter walking alone. Will I ever be?
The worst part of this problem is that I feel helpless.
I don’t know how to ensure that women can be safe at night. I can continue to carry pepper spray or a heavy flashlight when I have to go out at night, but that’s just addressing the symptoms of this societal disease and not healing anything. I can teach my son to respect women, but that’s just a drop in the bucket of all men in the world. How do we solve this?!