The time has changed, the days are getting shorter and for many of us college women, a lot of anxiety comes with that. If you have evening classes you’re probably walking back in the dark. If you have an internship off campus you may be walking back to your car in the dark. Cramming for a test late at night in the library? You’re definitely walking back in the dark. Walking alone in the dark brings up a lot of fear and anxiety for college women (or all women for that matter) that it doesn’t for men. A lot of guys and maybe even some girls don’t understand this fear and how pervasive it is so we’re going to break it down.
Growing up many of us girls are taught that we are vulnerable walking alone. We are taught to always walk with a buddy. We’re told that umbrellas are good deterrents. When we go to college we get pepper spray to protect ourselves. If we go shopping somewhere with a parking garage, we are constantly checking over our shoulders to make sure we’re not being followed and we know that when we get in our car we need to lock it and pull out as quick as possible so that we aren’t a target. We know that we live in a world where we have to worry about being a target. We know that even though we are strong, smart, and capable women, we are still vulnerable.
So, why? Why do we have to constantly worry? Why, if we are these strong confident and capable women, do we still have to worry about being a target or being vulnerable? For the most part, we are smaller than 50% of the population. With some exceptions, women are physically smaller than men and although I like to think I’d put up a nice fight if necessary, at 5’3” and roughly 130 lbs. I know that I am smaller than most every man and many women, even. Again, there are exceptions, but most men don’t walk down the street and worry that the man that’s been walking behind them for a block has bad intentions.
Another thing that women worry about is the fact that if they are assaulted, specifically, sexually assaulted, there is the fear that no one will believe them or that they’ll be asked if they really did give consent. In sex-ed in high school, there was a story we were told where a man who was mugged was being questioned in court and he’s asked what he was wearing and if he screamed for help among other things. When he answers that he was wearing an expensive suit and he didn’t yell for help because he was afraid and the man had a gun, the lawyers says, “See, he was asking for it. He wore a nice suit advertising that he was wealthy and he didn’t even cry out for help.” Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it. Does it sound so ridiculous when we ask a woman who’s been sexually assaulted what she was wearing or if she protested and screamed for help? Not only do we have to worry about being a target we also worry about if we’d be taken seriously afterwards.
I wish I could say that I had a magic solution but I don’t. The point is, we as women often have a lot to worry about when we are alone and it’s dark. Not only because of the present situation, but because of the events that can conspire after an assault. If you are a college woman, as much as it sucks, stick with a buddy at all times and do everything you can to stay safe. If you love a college woman, or are a college man, keep this in mind. Offer to walk your friends home and never jump to conclusions or judge when they say they were afraid of attack. The fear that comes with being a woman when it’s dark out is real so as the days get shorter, let’s stick together and hopefully one day we’ll live in a world where at least some of these worries won’t be so great.