This is why I’m a feminist
Around 12:30 last night, A taxi dropped me off four blocks away from my apartment. As I was walking home, a man started running towards me from across the street screaming “mademoiselle can I ask you something? I need to ask you something!” I ignored him as I thought would be the safest option (as opposed to telling him to fuck off, which I haven’t quite mastered yet in French). He started aggressively walking with me, ranting about things in an effort to provoke me in an uncomfortable proximity to my face, ”Why aren’t you responding?! Say something. Are you scared of me? You think I think you’re pretty? You think I’m trying to fuck you?” This proceeded for a block in a half. With my heart racing, all the articles on women’s safety I’ve ever read flashed before my eyes. Namely, if someone is following you on your way home, don’t go home. Secondly, draw attention to the situation. Thank God there was a man and a woman about twenty paces behind me, who I screamed to for help. They tried by walking with me but the guy persisted, continued walking with us and continued to yelling other things about me which I won’t translate. He finally left right before we reached my street and I raced home, terrified, overwhelmed and furious.
So this is why I’m a feminist. I’m a feminist because woman eat, breathe, and shit in fear. I’m a feminist because every walk home at night I worry that this— or worse— will happen. I’m a feminist because women are constantly demeaned in this unique way, tailored to the fact that anyone can and will insult, harass, assault or rape us and we are rendered utterly helpless. I am a feminist because I believe this needs to change.
I am not one to ever tell anyone how they feel but I firmly believe that the majority of women who say they don’t often feel this fear just haven’t realized that the way they feel when they are alone at night isn’t the way men feel alone at night. It is not the feeling that you are about to be robbed, or beat up. It is a feeling in the pit of your stomach and in the back of your throat that because you’re a woman, this man feels entitled to approach you, say and do anything he wants to you, and this entitlement is reinforced constantly.
I cannot emphasis enough how much this is linked to the depiction and portrayal of what it is to be a woman in the world. It is all connected. If woman are objectified in tv and film, woman are objectified in the streets of cities. Anyone who cannot connect the dots, or cannot understand why it is so offensive is because they don’t understand or have not experience the extreme danger, disservice and dehumanization this does to women.
Yes, we can take precautions. We can take taxis all the way to our doorsteps. We can walk in groups at night. We can make sure to have mase, or a rape whistle with us. But it doesn’t get rid of the fear and it doesn’t make it fair. So I will say to whoever reading this, that if you still can’t understand why feminism isn’t a dead movement, and if you still don’t consider yourself a feminist, than you are in effect saying you don’t give a shit that your mother, daughter, sister, girlfriend, co-worker, best friend, wife or whoever experiences this veritable fear in our daily lives.