A group of friends out for a drink after a concert.... It's getting late, folks split off to head for their vehicles... Two women who drove together, leave together. Two men who are parked near each other start down the street with me. But I am parked another block over and turn to head that way. One friend says "We can walk you..." and adds something about not messing with my "feminist cred." My hackles go up -- not because of the feminist crack, per se, but because it is obvious he would walk with me to keep me safe, not so that we would be safe. I blow him off. I go on alone. But as I round the corner onto the the dark street with dark alleys and look up at the parking deck where I have left my car, I am slammed with all the contradictions of being a woman, out alone, at night, in public space.
I regret the cavalier rejection of a companion. I feel stupid for feeling anxious. I feel more stupid for not have acted with appropriate caution. I resent having the offer of accompaniment being tied to feminism -- as if a "real" feminist would never accept an accompaniment -- it's not what he meant (in fact he probably meant just the opposite), but I went all defensive. I despise the uncertainty I have... for all I know about women and public space, for all I have read about what women "should" do and what they "do" do, none of it made that moment on that street any easier. It probably made it more difficult. I am pissed that the reality is that I am an idiot to climb the stairs of the parking structure on my own. I am uncomfortable with my own vulnerability. I am uncomfortable that others around me see it too.
So then I swallow my independence/pride and I call one of the friends... he can't be far away we just parted ways... just a block away, maybe, and on a bike. He could easily swing my way and go with me to my car. But he does not answer... maybe he is already on the bike and doesn't hear the ring... I am annoyed he doesn't pick up but I am relieved he doesn't pick up. I am relieved I don't have to explain. But I still had to climb the stairs and cross the empty floor to my car.
Obviously it turned out fine, but...
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