The night. It is not ours, ladies, and it is not because of the lack of street lights.
Rather, it is not ours because of the men who feel that they may call out to us on the streets, that our asses look nice or that our breasts look juicy. Only of course, in the comfort of darkness, where they can hide their cowardice in the shadows.
Because of the men in cars who pull up by the sidewalk hoping that maybe it’s their lucky night. A girl on her own. She might actually want to get in.
Because of the men who walk up to us on a lonely street in the very safe neighbourhoods we live in and ask if we want to look at their ‘thing’. Hey, it’s late and it’s worth a try.
Hear me out. Hear me out. Hear me out.
These men. They count on the fact that you will never turn around/talk back/call out, because frankly, you are ‘afraid’ of them – of their size, of their number, of their insipid existence. Because anyway you aren’t supposed to be here. You are out late. And look at the way you are dressed. And as it’s been said so many times lately, you’re asking for it.
Maybe yes, your quick judgement of ‘I should just walk, I’m so close to home’ was in hindsight, wrong. This experience was a necessary reality check to remind you of the true freedom that you really have. That we really have. As women.
But ladies, please.
Because whatever our judgements, however wrong our instincts were, and however difficult it was, we will not run home and bolt the door. We will say things out loud and though we may be screaming inside and flashing pictures of scenarios we are reminded too often of in the newspapers/TVs of our country, we have agency. In that very moment, we have the power to remind those men that we are part of that experience, and not victims of it. And that we do it with every voice that ever existed inside of us. Tomorrow someone might say, ‘Thank God it wasn’t anything worse’. But we know that it was bad. It was enough to blow the wind out of us and make us feel completely powerless.
I once used to think that the night is ours. That we are in control. But it is not ours yet, and it won’t become ours completely when the street lights come on. Or once a year during a public march. Or through coffee table conversations. It will begin being ours when we start to challenge and push back every day. And till then, we must be smart and aware and aloud.
Contributed by one of our volunteers