This echoes the sentiment that I have heard in many modern feminist writings. That modern existence as a woman includes, by default, a very pervasive element of fear for their basic safety. I have heard tales ranging from a women relating the feeling of walking alone at night, to explaining that every encounter with a new man is twinged with suspicion of potential violence.
Hearing these women share their stories breaks my heart. The life of fear that they describe is tragic, and it is horrifying to me that anyone in modern times endures this.
The thing is? I don't understand. Fear is not a part of my life as a woman, and it never has been.
When I was a teenager, I certainly did not think particularly well of males. I believed that all men wanted something from me, and were willing to go to all levels of deceit and trickery to get it. I imagined that men sat in dark smoky rooms, laughing menacingly with steepled fingers as they formed their evil schemes to get in my pants.
I have since learned that most men, especially of the age range that I was dealing with in those days, are merely bumbling along awkwardly, trying to make a connection. The scheming I imagined was more likely boys trying to untangle the mysteries of the world, the baffling enigma that is girls, and the seemingly herculean task of getting one to pay attention to them.
But back then? I was defensive, sure. One might even say that to an extent, I was afraid. Afraid of heartbreak, afraid to trust. But I was never afraid for my safety.
While I am aware that women are the victims of sexual assault and violent crimes far more often than men, I see this in the context of the many other horrible, but relatively rare things that happen in the world. I am far more concerned about the idea of getting run down by a San Francisco cabbie than I am with either having my home destroyed by earthquake, or being raped in an alley.
This is not to say that there haven't been moments when, walking alone at night past an unsavory looking group of people, I might be acutely aware of my own relative strength, and my chances of defending myself if it became necessary. However, I also don't think that I would feel any less unsafe, all other things being equal, if I suddenly had a penis between my legs.
What I would like to ask you, if you are a woman and would be so generous as to share is -- are you afraid? To what level does it impact your life? Is it an undertone of every encounter with a strange man, or is it confined to certain situations? And most importantly, please help me understand -- why are you afraid?
I do not ask these questions to belittle the fear of any woman, nor do I mean to imply that anyone should or should not be afraid. I ask honestly, because I wish to understand.