Constant Vigilance 2/4

Seriously: don’t do this. Like many tips it poses more injury risk to you than an attacker.

Content Warning: this series discusses sexual assault and “prevention” rules

While I assume most men think of going from one place to another as merely travel, women are taught to fear our daily comings and goings whether we walk, take public transit or cabs, or have our own cars. For pedestrians and women in parking lots we’re told: 

  • Carry a weapon of some sort: a pocket knife, pepper spray on a keychain, a heavy flashlight with batteries, a taxes, a gun, and while you’re at it, become a martial artist and sharpshooter. 
  • Have keys at the ready before going outside, hold them the entire time laced between your fingers as ineffectual and self damaging brass knuckles. 
  • Smile/don’t smile. Wear headphones/never wear headphones. Ignore/acknowledge men who strike up conversation. Carry your heels so you can run faster/never remove your heels as it makes you look drunk. (The tips conflict a lot.)
  • Walk on the outside of the sidewalk: better to be hit by a car than trapped between a man and a building. 
  • Avoid walking in dangerous neighborhoods.
  • Avoid walking in rural neighborhoods. 
  • Don’t walk.

These pedestrian specific rules could easily add an hour or two to commute time. 

  • If men in a car harass you, turn around and go out of your way. 
  • Never take shortcuts through parks, parking lots, or alleys. 
  • Don’t accept rides from strangers in inclement weather. 

For women using public transit: 

  • Choose busy times of day to travel. Only rush hour for you!
  • Don’t read a book or look at your phone or talk on it or do anything to cut through the tedium of your bus/train ride. 
  • Be constantly aware of your surroundings and fellow passengers.
  • Don’t take cabs or ride shares because they might assault you. 
  • Don’t take public transportation. 

You might think women drivers could get a moment’s reprieve from constant vigilance, but you’d be wrong. They are told to: 

  • Always have a full tank of gas (but never buy it at night).
  • Keep cars perfectly maintained.
  • Check beneath and inside the car before getting in.
  • Only park beneath a light. 
  • Keep doors locked at all times. 
  • Travel on high traffic routes.
  • Don’t drive at night. 
  • Don’t accept roadside assistance from strangers. 
  • Don’t pull over for a cop until you get to a well lit area.
  • Don’t drive.

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