A reality women live with
Undoubtedly, a six foot man wouldnít and probably doesnít think about walking down a street, alone, at night. Unfortunately, most women do. Why we do is a question that thousands have attempted to answer for many years.
Personally, I donít consciously think of it until thereís a reason to. Like most women, when Iím walking alone I give bushes a wide berth. I always look into the back of a vehicle before getting in. I carry my keys in such a way that they could become meaningful defensive tools if need be.
I watch vehicles driving by. If the same vehicle passes by twice Iím that much more wary. If someone is stood at a distance and looking in my direction, Iím taking notice.
Whenever Iím in a building, Iíve mentally mapped two ways of exiting.
When I pass someone on the sidewalk or road, I always make eye contact. I watch where Iím going and whoever might be around me.
Years ago, shortly after learning I was pregnant, I went shopping at the West Edmonton Mall.
It turned into an afternoon/evening event. I met with several friends and we had lunch and went to a movie together before I gathered my bags and headed home.
As I was coming out into the parking garage, I noticed there was a beige panel van parked close to my driverís side.
Before I actually got to the back end of the car, my stomach started to flip flop. I turned around to see who else might be in the garage. There was no one in the immediate vicinity. I couldnít figure out why my neck was tingling. But everything in me was aware of something. I just couldnít put my finger on it.
Just as I was about to squeeze between the van and my car, I saw a shadow move across the side door window. I immediately backed out of where I was and walked quickly, but calmly, back into the mall.
I donít know that anything was wrong in that particular situation. All I know is that everything was telling me there was. And in all honesty what did it hurt to walk back into the mall? Nothing. I got another five minutes of exercise and a half hour to turn my wary panic into something productive.
If I was right and there was something wrong, me going back to the mall could very well have resulted in my being here today.
The sad fact of the matter is, women think about these things all the time. They might not always know what to watch for or how to handle it when it does happen, but theyíre thinking about it.
I was reminded of that again very recently when I walked home on the highway instead of taking a shorter route. I told a friend Iíd taken the highway, which had me coming home later, because I didnít have my keys with me.
"Isnít it terrible to have to think that way?" she asked. Without having to ask, she knew exactly what my keys were for. (Iíd bet a lot of women do!)
It is a terrible way to think. But itís a necessary paranoia.
Most of us have reasons to think that way. Others of us have learned from the misfortunes of others. Those who donít think that way, will at some point.
I do have a suggestion however, particularly for men. Ask the women in your lives about it. Ask them how often they think that way. Ask your wife why she insists you come with her when she goes out for walk. Ask her why she doesnít like going to the grocery store at night.
Ask your daughter if sheís aware of her surroundings when sheís out with friends on a Friday or Saturday night.
Even more interesting, ask them what they do when theyíre in a situation that makes them feel uncomfortable.
And if you donít like the answers you get, find a way to get the ones you do want to hear.
My own father asked me when I was about 17. When he heard what he did, he took it to a different level.
He may have been a pacifist, but when it came to protecting his daughter--all bets were off.
Itís a reality women live with. The question is, can you do something to help the women in your life be more aware of where they are and how to avoid dangerous situations?
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