I was born and raised in a really beautiful suburban neighborhood in Brooklyn. the streets are so tree-lined and quiet. it’s worth saying that where I grew up is so much safer than most places in New York.
would you believe me if I told you I’ve had traumatizing experiences a block away from where I’m standing? would you be surprised to hear that even I have been followed, stalked, and even been a victim of attempted abduction along with my sister? right here in my pretty little neighborhood.
to the women reading this, this probably isn’t news. sadly, for us, this is just a shrug. walking to and from the gym, going for a jog, or even dropping by a friend’s house to pick up a forgotten ID card always feels like putting ourselves at risk of danger. and that is the truth, not an exaggeration. but this fear has been suppressed, normalized, and personally, there have only been a few times in my life where I have been able to identify not feeling that fear. being a woman is a painful dread that after so long, you’ve forgotten is still there. and I don’t think men will ever understand, nor do I blame them. because fear is something only us women were raised into; girls bred into conditions of paranoia and unyielding self defense. the same way that I will not ever truly understand the personal affects of racism and homophobia as I have never been a victim of it, men will never know what it feels like to constantly be frightened, powerless, and intimidated by the opposite sex. but what you can do is hurt for victims, you can believe them, you can empathize, and listen. you can yearn for change. and teach your fellow men that while a catcall on the street for you may be a chuckle, for us it is the decision to walk past our homes to make sure you dont know where we live. while pulling up to a woman walking in your vehicle may be flirtatious for you, for us it is the instant horror that we may disappear forever. this isn’t melodrama. just take a minute, turn to your fellow women, and ask them, what is the scariest experience you’ve ever had? count how many took place on pretty tree lined streets, or in bars, or the pharmacy, or a taxi ride home. listen, and believe.