how women are taught to fear rape
Yesterday, my father went out to a doctor’s appointment and I was home alone. Like most people when they’re home alone, I locked the door. Just the screen door, I left the back door open. When he arrived home after his appointment, he tried to open the door and found he couldn’t because it was locked. I got up to unlock it and he demanded to know why it was locked in the first place. As if that extra ten seconds it took me to get up and unlock the door took some important space out of his time.
I was stunned. I tried to explain why, feeling embarrassed and hating myself for feeling embarrassed even as I choked out an explanation. I attempted to explain the reasoning behind every woman taking a precaution like that, even in their own homes, even in the day time. He made fun of me. I was made to feel stupid and irrational.
Sadly, this isn’t the only time this has happened or the only time he’s made fun of me for being hyper aware. I don’t think I can explain it in a way he understands. I don’t know if it’s a generational thing or if it’s just him (or even, in some weird way, a questioning of his manhood? “Oh, I can’t protect my daughters?”), but he just doesn’t get it. I don’t tell him that whenever my parents go away on holidays, I shut all the windows in the house and make sure the doors are deadlocked. I even lock the door on the outside to my parent’s bedroom. I leave lights on. I sleep with a baton.
I know he doesn’t get it, I know he will never get it.
Women have it ingrained in them so much that it becomes unconscious – don’t walk down that street, don’t wear earphones in your ears, lock your car doors, walk with your keys in your hand, don’t drink, don’t do drugs, stay in groups. Most of us live our lives in fear of rape. It’s not always a paralysing of-the-moment fear, but there’s this constant, low-grade anxiety whenever we venture outside of the house, hell, even inside our own homes for some women. Every man we meet is a potential predator. We’re still taught to protect ourselves and the people who commit these crimes are taught … what? The people who make rape jokes and laugh about them are taught … what?
There are some great campaigns aimed at men stopping rape – Men Can Stop Rape is one such campaign. But there need to be more. There needs to be more awareness raised and the onus shouldn’t be on the survivors of crime to raise this awareness. People, not just men and boys, but people should be taught to respect one another.