Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Should I Be Scared to Walk Alone?

At night, or at any time really?

I was harassed twice today, or yesterday as it will be when this goes up. Some creepy bastard propositioned me, then exposed himself, at midday in the cemetery surrounding a church – in view of the main road going through the cemetery to the church where there were a decent number of people walking. (I was looking at an interesting tomb. No, I normally don’t go to urban cemeteries by myself, but I normally figure that if there are lots of people visiting graves and other women walking alone that it should be fairly safe.) And then tonight, as a got off the metro, some young hooligan approaches me yelling “devushka, devushka!” wanting something. I ignored him, and tried to walk away – again, decent crowd of people getting off the metro here. The punk raised his fist, feigning that he was going to punch me, and then finally gave up. I swear, the next time I hear a male voice pronouncing “devushka” I’m going to snap.

And, for the rest of my walk home from the metro – a decent portion of which is through areas with virtually no lighting, I found myself wishing that I had waited at the restaurant for one of male friends who lives in the same general area, so that I could have asked him to walk me home even though it would be very out of the way for him to do so. Except, I probably wouldn’t have done so, because I had pretty much recovered from midday, and I doubt that punk would have hassled me if I had been in the company of another male.

Now I’m sitting in my room, upset, angry, shaken, and feeling quite helpless about the whole situation. Is this really what I have to look forward to for the next however many years? Because, I might be innocent, but I know this isn’t Russia, I just haven’t had to put up with the same level of harassment in Memphis because I don’t do much walking in Memphis. And, with any luck, I’ll make it out of Tennessee for graduate school, and be living somewhere where a car isn’t necessary, feasible, or justifiable. But it’s looking like the new silver lining of not getting into graduate school could be moving back to the ‘Shire, where I don’t have to worry about shit like this. (And can get my grandfather to teach me how to shoot. Or something. Maybe I should learn self-defense.)

But what in God’s name do I have to do to be able to go through my day without being seen as a sex object? I’m contemplating getting some sports bras in order to appear flat-chested and tucking my hair under a hat any time I’m walking at night. With the coat I have, I might be able to escape attracting any attention. Part of me is willing to give up the long hair that I’m currently enjoying and the earrings that I love, bind my breasts, and see if I can’t manage to successfully pass myself off as Dmitri, instead of Demetria. Just for cursory glances! And then I start thinking, that I’ll have to worry about being beaten up for being queer if someone looked at me and realized that I was a female trying to pass as male.

And, I even know that what I’ve had to put up with is only the tip of the iceberg really. That there’s so many worse things that could happen. And no material harm was done to me. But why should I have to be afraid to walk alone?