should i be afraid?

by epi

the day before classes began, the students in my program were mandated to attend an all-day training on diversity. (think… the office: diversity day & you’ve pretty much got it.)  during one activity, we were asked to stand in a circle and step in if we agreed/identified with a particular statement, most of which i found cut and dry except, “i take extra precaution when walking alone at night.” or something. i don’t remember. the gist was that when walking alone at night, you pay extra attention to your safety. i stood in my place. i was one of the only ones (my classes are primarily filled with women).

my response (in light of everyone else’s), haunted me. i couldn’t understand if i missed something. “why would you take EXTRA precaution”, i wondered. “extra? what does that mean? should i be taking extra precaution?” i asked myself. eventually, i let it go, marking it as one of those things beyond me. until tonight.

you see, tonight, i sat for three hours in a class and talked about social justice and human diversity. “women are oppressed, a targeted population”, i heard, and you better believe i scoffed out loud. (and then quickly shifted my eyes and looked around suspiciously. “who was that?”) i am NOT oppressed. i carried this haughty, scornful attitude through the end of class, out the door and halfway down an unlit sidewalk [on my way into a dark park] where two things happened: (1) i stopped (and then the quickly began moving again) to wonder, “should i be afraid?” and (2) i suddenly understood what the comment that opened this blog. because the answer was yes. as a woman, walking in the dark down an unlit path, i better be afraid. on guard. watchful. it’s unsafe in general, but it’s even more unsafe for women. and, last time i checked, i’m a woman (too much? too much.).

that’s it. i’m storing my musings here, come or go as you will. i’m a woman, and because of that, there are places i am not safe. from this point on, someone will walk me to my car, or… well i don’t know. but, i was wrong. this, in it’s way, is oppression. which sucks. and is unavoidable?