Last week I was planning a trip into the city alone and would be returning late at night. Chatting to my man about my options for travel, it occurred to us that it was safety not ease, or cost or efficiency that was my only concern. My man commented he had never had to think about it for himself. So i wrote this…

IT’S THERE

There it is…
Those small ways
Every day
That I am aware
Aware of my safety, aware of my body, aware I cannot let myself be truly free
Hidden in tiny gestures
Mine and others
The moment that flickers though my mind when I choose a car park that is visible to others,
The way I put my window up if a stranger approaches my car
The tiny moments where I have learned I need to be alert

This is not normal for everyone
Just most women, most of the time, in most circumstances through the world they live in
When I carry my keys instead of putting them in my bag
Hell when I put my bag across my body instead of on my shoulder
All tiny moment in which I know somehow, have learnt somehow, I might not be safe
And it seems it is my role to be a step ahead of those who might seek to harm me

This is not the story of a women in trauma, although we all are somehow.
This is ordinary
This is life
Be alert, you are vulnerable.
The choices you make every moment will contribute to your assault, your rape, your own abuse.
I tried to explain this to my beautiful man, the father of our daughter.
He could not believe the tiny moments a woman felt, that it seems most men, most of the time, don’t need to think about.
But I do, like a reflex, We do. Don’t we?
An unconscious reaction to a world where being female is a risk factor.

Behind the choice of flat shoe versus heel, the twenty dollar note I tuck in my bra just in case, the finger I have on the button that locks my car doors – it’s there.

Before I’ve considered what I wear, or how outspoken I will be, before I have stepped from my home I have made a cascade of choices.

Take the car, don’t walk.
Text my partner my ‘last known location’ just in case.
Stand near the call button in a lift with a stranger.

Not free.
Deeply embedded, enculturated, ground in.
Choices I think, I hope, will preserve me, at the very least make me less of a target.
This is the world we live in. Vulnerable. Always.
Because tiny acts of violence are normal…
Unless we say it’s there.

Lindy Schneider October 2017