Drue Wigton //
On the night of March 3, 2021, a woman named Sarah Everard was walking home from a friend’s house in South London when she was kidnapped in broad daylight and later discovered on March 10, 2021. In light of this recent event, there’s a public upset (as shown by the multiple vigils and marches) because it seems as if no matter what we do to protect ourselves, women cannot walk alone without the apparent danger of the common tragedies that we read about in the news.
When I was younger, I was never afraid to walk alone. Although this could be due to the fact that I was 7 and unable to operate a vehicle, I owe most of my confidence to the fact I was oblivious to what was happening to those walking alone on a daily basis. Now at the age of 21 and sitting down to write this article, I tried to think of what ultimately changed my mindset when it came to walking alone, and the list of reasons seemed never-ending. When we reach a certain age, it becomes almost customary for women to be bombarded with stories and imagery of those that ultimately don’t make it back from their walk home. It wasn’t a dislike of walking that caused me to ask my mom for more rides, it was the fear of what would happen if a young girl was found by herself.
Growing up, and ultimately becoming more aware of how scary the world around me could be, I learned to walk in well-lit areas, to constantly be aware of my surroundings, and to carry some form of self-protection at all times. Although women are consistently taught these things to make every situation “safer,” there is no guarantee they will actually help in the moment.
Speaking from personal experience, one morning I was walking to my womens’ self-defense class (ironically enough) and I was grabbed by a man in the parking lot between my residence hall and my classroom. Although someone had immediately stepped in to help me, it is hard to stop myself from thinking about what could’ve happened had they not been there. It’s hard to process what’s going on in the moment, but after the fact, all I could think about was what I could’ve done better to prevent that scarring event from happening.
Moving forward, It’s unfair to place more restrictions on what women should/shouldn’t do when they’re alone, but there are more steps needed in order to ensure the safety of women everywhere. Sadly enough, there is still an inherent blame on women when things go wrong. “What could she have done better? Why did she choose to take that route home? Why didn’t she get a ride home? Why did she drink so much?”
There is an apparent shift in responsibility that needs to be made. We should not have to be held responsible to check the back of our cars every time we get into them, or to worry if our water bottle is heavy enough to use as a weapon “just in case.” It seems as if there are so many rules for women to follow when simply trying to enjoy a walk outside, or to get from point A to point B, but how are we supposed to feel protected by these rules when terrible things are still happening to the women that follow them? When the majority of these tragedies are performed by men, why are women held responsible for learning the tools to stay safe, yet blamed for not using them when things go wrong?