With the Me Too movement underway in the past year women from all walks of life, renowned or not, have been coming forward to share vulnerable experiences of sexual assault and misconduct. Women have been speaking out against the alleged misconduct of actors, politicians, movie moguls, and Supreme Court justices. Women have been speaking out on social media and in smaller circles as well, among groups of friends.
There is a website for this movement, too, which serves as a platform for women to share their stories.
“The ‘me too’ movement supports survivors of sexual violence and their allies by connecting survivors to resources, offering community organizing resources, pursuing a ‘me too’ policy platform, and gathering sexual violence researchers and research,” the site states. “The ‘Me Too’ movement work is a blend of grassroots organizing to interrupt sexual violence and digital community building to connect survivors to resources.”
Politics can be a highly contentious subject, and I tend not to go down that road. But by choosing to write this post, I hope to convey an understanding of the female psyche; an understanding of why viewing the world through our lens is different.
You don’t have to be a victim of sexual assault to have that inner voice; an instinct that tells you to be more cautious in various circumstances. And these circumstances are viewed a little bit differently through female eyes; whether it’s walking home alone at night, walking alone in general, sitting at a bar, or attending a college party, just to name a few scenarios.
And I can’t speak for every woman, of course, but I imagine that whether it’s on the surface of our mind or whether it’s more subconscious, we may have instincts that are wired to alert us if trouble might possibly be near.
Believe it or not, I can actually recall an early memory of being a young girl and walking outside with my friend after the sun went down. I can actually remember feeling reticent and scared by a man who was staring and trying to make eye contact, and I’ll never forget what my friend said to me. She said I shouldn’t look scared. Even though we were young, we were taught to think like that, to accept leering strangers as unavoidable and take responsibility for what happens next.
And now, when I find myself walking alone, I still remember that advice. I don’t look scared and powerless. I have a face that I wear; a face that basically says to “stay away.” I’m sure it appears as if I’m not a friendly person (even though I generally am one), but this face has become an engrained signal. A signal that says “back off,” when my gut tells me to tread carefully if I don’t get a great feeling. Maybe it’s a man whistling or blatantly staring. And maybe it’s not a real threat — usually it’s not. But regardless, I rely on my instincts to guide me in the right direction.
When I was in high school, a car pulled up next to me when I was walking home. It was snowing and the residential neighborhood was deserted and eerily quiet. The man in the car asked for directions and gestured for me to get closer to his car so he could hear me. At that point, I walked away — in the opposite direction. Maybe he really was curious about where to go, but my inner voice kicked in and told me to be cautious. That it’s better to be safe than sorry and that something about the interaction didn’t feel appropriate.
Recently, I heard loud, incessant knocking on my front door, and I was home alone. (It sounded like someone was trying to enter into the apartment.) I was worried and didn’t feel comfortable in the slightest, and I didn’t open the door. As it turns out, it was a maintenance crew member alerting tenants about construction work being done outside. A neighbor, an elderly gentleman, told me that it was good that I didn’t just open the door, blindly. He said that women have to be careful. I instantly knew what he meant.
I don’t think all men are out to harm us. I don’t think a majority of intentions are malicious or un-pure. But I wanted to relay an understanding. A truth that may inspire more awareness, going forward, of how simple mannerisms might be interpreted (even if nothing truly harmful was intended). And while this has become a sensitive topic in today’s political climate, I wanted to write about the instinct I have as a woman to be alert and protective. I wanted to write about the world as seen through our eyes.