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Upon realizing that I had just missed the bus I had hoped to take and that I would have to walk through a darkly lit stretch of sidewalk to get to my destination, I cursed in frustration. It wasn’t a long walk, but it was still one that I was trying to avoid having to take. My partner said to me, “You don’t need to be taking the bus anyway. It’s a beautiful walk through the park!”
I looked at him and sighed. I was a little exasperated that I had to explain this to him AGAIN. “It’s late. And I’m female.”
It’s not his fault that he is a white, hetero, able-bodied cismale who has the privilege of not having to fear walking in dark places alone at night. And part of that privilege is not having to think about the fact that that privilege exists. It means that he never has to think about where he can and can’t walk and what the safest route for him to take will be, but also that he doesn’t even have to be aware of the fact that he doesn’t have to do that. Unfortunately, I don’t share that privilege. I should, of course. Everyone should. But as a female-bodied person, I am denied that luxury by society.
Not only do I fear walking alone at night because something could happen to me, but I also fear the reaction I would get from people if something did happen to me under those circumstances. “Well, you shouldn’t have been walking through there at night by yourself,” the victim-blaming rhetoric would go. I should have known better. Why would I put myself in that situation? What was I even doing walking in that neighborhood alone? All of these things would inevitably be thought by other people, if not vocalized by them.
And that’s one of the differences between the way I live my life and the way my partner is able to live his. Where he sees a beautiful walk through the park, I see potential danger. That’s what we talk about when we talk about privilege. That’s what we talk about when we talk about rape culture. And that’s what I’m hoping to change by doing the work that I do.
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