From one tired woman, casting her feelings into the void.
As women—and not for all, but perhaps most—there's an added layer of caution around seemingly mundane things. And for men, this may be hard to understand. You might know that we regularly decide against walks and runs at night. But would you believe the act of dating, or merely using dating apps, can feel like a dangerous endeavour? We risk exposing ourselves to verbal abuse and unsolicited photos in our DMs. We choose restaurants and meeting points that won't leave us isolated and often decide against taking our dates home, despite our own sexual desires (yes, we do have them), as it puts our safety at risk in ways you may never understand.
From a young age, I was told, and understood, to dress conservatively. This means not only am I now uncomfortable in my own body but I was never able to truly identify a style that's mine—do I really like baggy tees or are my high necklines an attempt to halt unwanted advances from men? I feel like I can’t win. I dress one way and feel I’m hiding part of myself out of fear. I dress the other and feel completely vulnerable.
Even as I perused job postings recently, daydreaming about my next move, I hesitated to apply somewhere new. My current company is female-led. It does a fairly good job, from my experience, at upholding high standards of safety, equality and accountability and I know that's not the case everywhere.
Before judging someone’s propensity for taking "career risks", consider their true savvy might be knowing where and how to protect themselves against predatory behavior. While a dream of mine was to work in film, the toxicity of the industry is well-known. Would I compromise my safety for a dream job? It's something I'd have to consider.
It might be difficult for you to understand what women go through. We're acutely aware of our heightened vulnerability to violence and it affects our lives every day. It's devastating to have to live this way, and it’s worse for women of color. It’s worse for trans women and women with disabilities. I hope you can carry this with you. I hope it can help you empathize and become aware of how your behavior perpetuates this system of oppression. I hope this world becomes a safer place for women. A freer place where we can simply do the things we want to do, without fear or hesitation.
While these experiences are not unique to women and we do not want to discount similar experiences for folks of other genders, we believe it is important to recognize the unique obstacles women have historically faced. The vast majority of sexual assault survivors are women and women are more vulnerable to physical and sexual violence which is why this perspective is important to share.