Sarah Everard has reminded us that the hardest part of being a woman is the fear.
My sister is pregnant, and she’s having a baby girl.
At first, she was elated, she had big plans and dreams for how this tiny bundle of joy would grow up to be proud of her body, to think and feel positively about who she is. My sister has so many plans on how she is going to make this tiny human feel so loved that she never felt the hatred of staring at herself in the mirror, or the pressure to be thinner, prettier, more ladylike.
Until we remembered, being pretty is often the last of our concerns as a woman.
It’s getting through the day alive.
It’s walking home from your friends house at 9pm and expecting to make it. It’s choosing to walk the well lit route home and it still not being fucking enough.
It’s keys in your hand, so you’re ready to get in your door quickly as possible because of the story you heard once of that girl that almost made it to safety but she was raped in her own doorway.
It’s earbuds in, but music off, so no one tries to approach you, but you can hear someone coming.
It’s catching your own shadow in the corner of your eye and jumping out of your skin, because for a second, you think you’ve not been careful enough and someone has gotten close enough to hurt you.
It’s walking the tightrope of being polite enough that no one wants to hurt you, but not too polite, that someone might think they get to fuck you.
It’s going on a date and after half a glass of wine, passing out in the bathroom because you’ve been drugged.
It’s accidentally leaving your drink on a table at a bar or pub, and ordering another, just in case.
It’s someone slipping something in your drink and having to go to A&E. And the next day, your manager implies that it’s your own fault for drinking at all.
It’s sitting cold in the dark, wondering if anyone would believe that you said no.
It’s saying no, no, no, no, no. In case they didn’t hear you the first, second, third time.
It’s the punch in the stomach when someone asks: why didn’t you fight them off?
It’s the rape scenes for entertainment.
It’s wondering if you’ll ever feel safe. If you’ll ever be able to walk alone at night.
It’s knowing that there’s people out there that want to hurt you, just because they can. And when they do, they’ll probably get away with it. And besides, what were you doing out late anyway? Or drinking? Or wearing that skirt? Or smiling that way? With that haircut?
It’s being on the tube, alone with just a man in the carriage, he keeps making eye contact and you’re on your way back from work and it’s late. You just want to get home. Every rattle of the carriage on the tracks, is shaking your heart around your chest, like a caged bird. Begging the universe for him to either get off before your stop, in case he decided to follow you home, or for more people to get on the tube.
It’s going to the police about a man that you met once, who seemed nice and asked for your number, so you said yes. But he started stalking you and now, he texts you that he’s going to set your house on fire whilst you sleep.
It’s a female police officer coming out and refusing to look at the texts, and she’s not listening and she’s not hearing you and she’s telling that sometimes break ups are messy and you should just change your number, or move home. It’s you saying I do not know this man, this is not a messy break up and her replying, we can’t do anything unless he actually hurts you.
It’s a police officer suggesting you move home, instead of caring that a man is stalking you.
It’s a police officer being the person that hurts you.
It’s the fear, that it could’ve been you. That you have walked that road, any road, late at night, a million times before, but that maybe one time, it’ll be the last.
It’s your sister telling you she is afraid. She is afraid for herself, for you, for her unborn child, for the next woman that will go missing for daring to walk home, alone.