I'm scared. I'm scared to walk alone. I'm scared to make eye contact with strangers. I'm scared to sit outside of my own home for fear that a car will pull up in front of me and I'll never be seen again. Ever since I was little, I was taught that it's dangerous to be a woman in this world. That I have to watch what I wear and do because some pervert might be watching.
In middle school, I began to think I'll be safer as a grown up. Nothing bad can happen to me when I'm a grown up. I was wrong. Adults, particularly women, have it worse. They have to be even more careful.
My father once showed me a list of sex offenders in our city; now I no longer walk my dogs around my neighborhood. I slip keys between my fingers for self-defense when I walk to the car alone at the park. Once, I went for a walk alone and made sure I looked as boyish and dangerous as possible, going so far as to ask if I could take my father's pocket knife with me just in case. He said no.
There are organizations nationwide that fight and educate people against rape, abuse, assault and the like. DSP, EROC, RAINN, SCAR, and CALCASA are just a few of the fifty or so organizations across the US alone. Fifty or so across the US, yet we're still cautious and afraid to walk alone in our own neighborhoods or across campuses.
I'm scared. Scared that there is no punishment swift enough to destroy mere thoughts of rape or abduction. Scared that instead of teaching boys to treat women as equals rather than objects, we teach girls to cover up and hope that it will deter men. So please help me and millions of other women feel safe to walk alone. Help each one of us feel safe to be a woman in a male-centered world.