April 12, 2021

It’s Not Men vs. Women—it’s about All of Us Feeling Safe.

Feeling safe: if I were a man, would I be as worried?

That’s all I’m asking, and I don’t think so…

I want to get to know my city. Last year we had COVID-19 and the travesty of George Floyd—then riots and unrest.

I moved to Minnesota a few years ago and realized it’s always winter when I want to go exploring my new state. There is a small chunk of time when the weather is cooperating and I can branch out without getting frostbite.

The last two weekends, I have made an effort to go downtown and walk around. I haven’t had as many opportunities as I would have liked to play tourist.

I am from a suburb of Seattle. Before I spent time downtown, I was always forewarned, “Be careful. Don’t walk alone at night. Hold your purse tightly. Be ready to run if you need to.”

I went to college in Seattle and have worked downtown. I spent a lot of time in the city as a teen and in my early 20s bar-hopping around Pioneer Square, and thankfully I was always safe.

I’ve come to Minneapolis a few times for NBA games and to walk around the many lakes. I have come to check out the amazing vegan scene and try out restaurants.

The last two weekends when I was walking alone on these city streets, I felt myself trying to relax and enjoy the culture and sightseeing, only to hear that voice in my head saying, “Lock your doors, hold your purse tighter, be ready to run, keep your phone and key in your pocket in case someone steals your purse…maybe I shouldn’t have brought this thing.”

I’m constantly checking my back for who is behind me. Watching others with my peripheral vision—it’s killing my Sunday stroll, and it’s killing my vibe.

I hear a lot about men saying they want to be vulnerable too. They don’t always want to be the strong ones. I hear that.

I also know that women are more likely to be mugged and raped than men. Yes, of course, men get mugged and raped too. The same things can happen to both men and women, but do men guard themselves as fiercely walking down a city street? Or is that my cultural conditioning telling me I should be afraid?

I want to feel safe. I desire to feel safe on a city street just as much as on a country road. I tend to worry and be more hyper-vigilant than the average person. I have an anxiety disorder that I treat with supplements and deep breaths. I want to believe we are all equal and that it’s all in my head, but even I’m not falling for that.

Women fall prey to predators as we as a gender tend to be weaker and more vulnerable. We tend to be victims more than we are perpetrators.

I have learned that I need to be reconditioned to have faith and trust that I will be safe, but I need to be smart.

We can’t control what will happen in our surroundings as the recent Boulder shootings have attested to—I was in Boulder a week before the shooting grocery shopping, that could have easily happened to me, and I’d have nothing to say about it.

I want to feel free in my body to walk wherever I want without questioning my surroundings. I don’t want to constantly have to watch my back. I try to pretend I have a barrier of protection around me so that I can walk in peace and enjoy taking in my surroundings.

I love the hustle and bustle of city life. I love culture and diversity. I love creative and artsy people and places to visit. I’m obsessed with vegan cafes.

I’ve had to walk through fear to live a life I want to love. I can’t stay safe in my bubble just in case today is the day I fall prey to a predator.

Men, I see you. I hear you saying you are vulnerable and don’t always want to be seen as the strong ones. I want to support you in any way I can to strip down that masculinity facade that has been given to you.

I have two sons. Of course, I want them to be able to show emotion and have feelings. I understand toxic masculinity. It’s gone on for far too long.

Instead of this being about men versus women, can we ask how can we show up for one another?

If you see me walking down the street looking frightened, watch out for me, and I’ll do the same for you.

It’s not men against women it’s man and woman together. Women can be tough, and men can be vulnerable. As a species, we need to be who we are and accept that in each other. Why are we so hostile?

We can admit that gender inequality works both ways. This isn’t another Black and Blue Lives matter debate (Black Lives Matter, in case anyone has forgotten).

The stereotypes that worked for our ancestors aren’t working for us anymore.

Let’s have the conversations. Let’s make the changes. Let’s have one another’s backs.


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