Thursday, January 20, 2011

In which I dream of a world where men didn't have the power to scare the fuck out of me

The subject of this post started out innocently enough. I got home from work and, since I need to get more exercise, decided to go for a walk.

In the 3 miles or so it takes to walk down the road to 86th and back, I got 3 honks, 2 whistles, one catcall, and countless leers. Nothing I haven't had to handle on a daily basis anyway, simply by virtue of being female.

And this is the part where dudely assholery went from being irritating to downright terrifying.

I was finally in the home stretch, right around a quarter-mile from home, when two guys in a beat-up blue van stopped next to me and one of them hung his head out the window.

Him: How you doin', pretty?
Me: (breaking a speed record in bolting off the sidewalk into a yard to put as much space as possible between me and the van) Keep driving.
Him: What, baby?
Me: (with patented Glare of Death) I. said. keep. driving.

In the second and a half or so it took for them to drive away, I noted how much bigger than me the two guys were, the fact that there was nothing nearby which I could use as a weapon if necessary, the fact that I'd forgotten my cell phone, the fact that I could run away in either direction and reach an occupied home within a couple of seconds, and the fact that my heart felt like it was about to jackhammer its way out of my chest.

I watched them drive off down the road and kept walking. Still at least 10 feet from the road. A couple of minutes later, they came back in the opposite direction and the other guy popped his head out his window and said something I couldn't really make out. I couldn't muster a word or action, so I stared him down untll the van started moving again, then continued walking.

The van went down the road a couple of driveways and then started to turn around, back toward me.

By this time I was at the turnoff for a housing development that's within a couple hundred yards of my house. I could have run back home, but I didn't want them to see where I live, so I took off as fast as I could, down the side street, until I met up with another woman who was walking, told her about the creepy fuckers that were following me, and walked with her down the road which was safely crowded on both sides with men and women mowing lawns and walking their pets.

I kept walking with her until several minutes after I saw the van take slowly roll back down the road I'd been on. I got home by trespassing in neighbors' yards, keeping trees and fences and whatever I could between me and the road, and checking the road behind and ahead of me obsessively when there were no trees to hide behind.

And this is one of the parts of Indianapolis where people are supposed to feel safe. I just bought a bicycle yesterday and I want to go play on it, and I was going to start biking to work because it's silly to drive such a short distance, but then I'd probably be perceived as "asking for it." Unless I either have a guy with me, or magically become one.

I could say a lot of things. Like, who the hell do these fuckerly beings of the world think they are, believing they have any right to make women live in fear like this? When is the violence, and the entitled gazing, and the unsolicited touching and taking, and so on, when the hell is it all going to stop? When am I going to be able to work up the guts again, to venture out on my bicycle and enjoy the sunny day without wondering if those creeps are going to come back and find me, or if some different creep will show up and not back down so easily? What the FUCK did women ever do to deserve to have to live like this?

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