WHAT I WOULD MISS MOST ABOUT BEING A MAN...
Late last I was strolling through the Marina here in San Francisco after dark, in search for chocolate milk.
In any city I stay in you’ll always find me searching for chocolate milk.
(a quick note, San Francisco your convenience store chocolate milk game is WEAK!!! Take some notes from NOLA)
This has turned into a glorious tradition for me, I love to listen to the sounds of the city at night. The hoots and hollers of young people enjoying a Friday night a few blocks over.
The air was crisp and fresh.
The light and shadows danced around me as I moved from block to block, meandering, with only a loose destination in mind.
I pondered life. And realized that if someone forced me back into my life before all of this. Back into the closet. This, this feeling of utter freedom and anonymity mixed with the foot loose and fancy freeness of not being worried about my safety late in the night is the privilege I would miss most.
Not the being listened to in a brand new way, not the no longer having to justify my every choice or thought because I was a woman, not the being respected as the default, nope, it’s the safety that comes with being a man.
(Another Side note: Yes! Obviously, the freedom to be myself, the freedom to have the power to align my physical body with my soul of course would be first. If I’m skipping past the obvious health/mental health crisis that de transitioning would instantly trigger)
We regularly hear women state “men will never understand what it’s like to walk around with true terror in your body, to truly fear for your safety, your steps and breath quickening as you walk/run to your car after work. Just because you’re a woman”
And that terror is real. I don’t even think I realized how much fear I had in my body on a regular basis, how my base line hovered close to “alert”. I believe that I’m not alone in that experience. Most women I know have 3-5 safety contingency plans in place all the time. They don’t even realize they do, but when you start talking about it they say, “well, yes, I keep my keys in my fist like this, my purse is arranged to hit someone, like this, and my friends and I wait for each other when in this situation, and we check on each other like this, oh also…”
Years of being socialized to fear for your life doesn’t go away as quickly as the physical effects of testosterone take hold.
The first year or two for sure I could still feel the panic of footsteps behind me, my chest tightening. My steps quickening. My keys in my fist, scanning my world for an escape route if necessary. Slowly I realized that those footsteps weren’t a threat to me. Instead now I say hi, and lend someone a lighter, have a short conversation and carry on.
(I’m an unassuming dude. I pass as teenage most of the time so really I’m not even worth robbing let’s be honest. )
But my fear didn’t go away all at once, it really felt like an unraveling. One that can tighten and tangle right back up from time to time.
And folks who have lived as men their whole lives don’t understand it. They don’t take it into consideration, they can’t. Not until they have experienced it for themselves, or they start asking to hear and listening to the stories of the women around them. Because every woman I know has one, from this week.
Listening and hearing isn’t enough. We then have to act.
Let’s stop with the assaulting. I feel like we shouldn’t have to say this, but let’s just get it out of the way.
When you’re walking up behind someone at night, pay attention to their body language and how they feel about it. If you can tell it’s someone who is spooked, or if you would guess she identifies as a woman, just cross the street. Slow your step. Stop and tie your shoes again, I bet that you being mildly inconvenienced would be worth if you knew how terrified she was.
Dudes, offer to walk with someone to their car. If they say “no”, say “I don’t mind, I bet it’s scary walking alone at night. Also I read this instagram post that I’m supposed to because it turns out it’s scaryaf to walk by yourself late at night cause of all the terrible things guys have done to women over the centuries, but….. totally cool if you’d rather go on your own” And then listen to whatever she says next.
Okay truth is that I don’t have a ton of other answers because it’s been a bit since I’ve been afraid.
SO FEMMES TO THE FRONT!
What are some little things masc folks could do
to make you feel safer out in the world after dark!
(LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS AND I’ll UPDATE)
Because dudes will never know the terror of walking alone at night, but equally, most women will never know the true unencumbered freedom that comes with strolling haphazardly through a beautiful neighbourhood late at night with nothing but the sound of your footsteps to keep you company.
And I’m not okay with that. So let’s maybe work on changing it together mmmmkay?
Hugs and High Fives!