I’ve never really been the kind of woman that conforms to other folks’ expectations. Part of this is related to my inability to just relax already, but most of it comes from my natural reaction to resist; resist conforming, resist stereotypes, resist being directed. So when someone says “its dark out, you shouldn’t walk alone”, resist I do.
I think my ease with resisting was upheld by my lack of fear: I’m not scared to walk alone at night, I’d say to myself and anyone around, therefore I will – I have the right, dam nit.
That changed two summers ago. On a hot, hot night in July, I was walking home in my suburban city along the bike path, a route I frequent. Lit only by the kitchen lights of the homes that backed on to the path, I attempted to evolve into a higher species and see in the dark. As my eyes adjusted and bushes and houses took form, I began to feel more comfortable. Then I heard it: a male voice calling, “Hey baby” from one of the path-rimmed backyards. Fear. Intense fear. I thought, if I hear the sound of the chain linked fence – a sound that harkens me back to my own childhood with fondness and longing – I’ll know this male will be on the move and I’ll start running. In the dark.
No sound was heard, but I picked up my walking pace, my cell phone at the ready – for what, I’m not sure.
I made it home. I was not attacked or approached. That fear, though. That fear is something that has not been in me for a long time. I resisted it. I denied it. I said “fuck you” to it. But it was in me that night. And that’s not OK. As a woman, I deserve the right to walk home on a city-maintained pathway from downtown. I deserve the right to feel safe and secure that my fellow humans will not choose to scare, intimidate or harass me on my journey. I deserve to tell them that their actions did just that – and that that’s not OK.
I march in the Take Back the Night event because I’ve been scared to walk alone at night in my own neighbourhood and that’s not OK.
Project Coordinator – Be The One…to Stop Violence Against Women and Girls
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