“We worry that we might get raped.”
There is no context to this sentence – no time, no place, no description of the area, the setting, or what the women are doing or wearing.
It was written just recently by a woman in the United States, Natalie, who was explaining a simple truth to her best male friends.
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As women, we worry that we might get raped.
Just, generally… Walking at night, driving at night, in public places, in private places.
It’s not like we’re always frantic and fretting about the imminent threat of attack. But if we are anywhere where we are at risk of being alone and being attacked, it becomes a space where we become ‘alert’.
As Natalie says, this is “the fundamental truth of my existence every day”.
“My friends had no idea this feeling was shared, to some degree, with most women (and other marginalised people who are threatened in public spaces),” Natalie writes.
“It had never even occurred to my favourite men that many of the people they interact with live with this form of apprehension all the time.”
And it doesn’t matter what we are wearing, or who we are with, or how much we have been drinking; we should still expect to be safe, right?
I know of a woman who was attacked at midday, in broad daylight, in a busy suburb on the Gold Coast. It was crime of opportunity; the guy was from Melbourne and just happened to see her jogging towards him. She was just out for a jog, and he assaulted her on the side of the road, while motorists whizzed past, none the wiser.
This is the reality of being a women – we are always vulnerable.
I have a friend whose mum was working as a cleaner many years ago, to help make ends meet. One day, the owner masturbated in front of her; she was highly stressed afterwards and saw a counsellor, who responded: “A woman in your position needs to expect things like that.”
I can only hope times have changed since then? Even so, I’ll still keep my car doors locked and will hold my keys between my fingers when walking alone.
Just in case.