Monday, September 24, 2007

frustration

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...

7 comments:

Laura Jacquez said...

I know the feeling. I'm glad you are ok.

Ypsipearl said...

Don't ever do that again! It's safety, not feminism.

Zoe the Wonder Dog said...

Of course it's feminism -- overthinking things is one of my (our?) specialties :)

biscodo said...

I'm thinking the guy being sarcastic about "feminist cred" probably could have been a little more sensitive, eh? I'm betting he's walked plenty of women to their cars, feminists and neo-traditionalists alike.

And it doesn't really matter what your philosophical/sociological ideation is in the middle of the night in a dark and abandoned parking garage, does it?

I'm betting that your friend, when he reads this, is going to think that the right behavior next time is not to joke or question or ask, but to turn the question "do you want someone to walk with you?" into the question "where are you parked?" and then just walk with you. He was far too glib last night, and rather clueless.

While I'm unlikely to use such pat phrases as "my parents raised me better than that", the fact that is that I know better.

And I should've walked with you instead of making sarcastic and clueless comments.

And I should have noticed my phone ringing.

Zoe the Wonder Dog said...

Of course the fix is easy, right? You won't ask, I won't ask, we will just walk together.

The frustrations don't go away, though. I'll be the one "being walked" and you'll still to be the one walking me.

I'm a capable, intelligent, able-bodied, strong, aware, responsible, fully-grown adult. I just don't happen to be 6'3" and 200 lbs and male...

You are statisically more likely to be the victim of street crime than I am, but I am more likely to be raped and I live in a society that perceives me as vulnerable, so I am more fearful and you are less.

I know the reality of the situation, really I do, but I still want to say to the wind and for what it's worth (not much, I know), that it is not fair.

Matthew said...

You could have tried the other friend too...

To be honest, I had a moment of hesitation while heading to the stairwell for my parking garage too - then went back to my default setting of "not going to live in fear of other people"

Daye said...

having survived a strikingly similar sitch in '94 I want you to promise to accept the company next time okay? and then be sure he gets where he needs to safely ALSO!