So I’m going to write something a little bit different today. Usually I like to keep my posts positive and somewhat upbeat because that’s the type of energy I’m wanting to attract into my life. But I’ve realised that shouldn’t stop me talking about other things. Not when it’s something I care a lot about.
So here’s the situation. Yesterday I was making my daily commute to work. I walk to the train station, I get the train, I walk to my office. Simple. I do this every week day (and weekends if my office would ever offer overtime again!). But the point is that it’s my route, I know where I’m going and I feel safe. Yesterday I did not feel safe. The train I get into work is usually quite full as it’s the time a lot of people are actually coming home from work. As the train approaches I glance to see if there’s any free seats of four, there isn’t but I see one with a guy about my age in the corner and decide to head there. As I sit down diagonal to him, as train etiquette dictates, he looks up and stares at me. And I don’t mean glances at me when he thinks I’m not looking. He stares at me like he’s pissed off with me for a good five seconds. I kind of stared back for a second because I thought he was going to say something, when I realised he wasn’t I looked down in hopes he’d look away. For the rest of the journey he kept looking up at me but I didn’t look at him directly. I think at one point he was even taking a photo of me which made my skin crawl. When a girl moved through the door connecting carriages that was right by us he got really angry that she’d touched the door to the chair next to it. Baring in mind this wasn’t even his chair and she was just trying to fit through the door. When we were getting to my station I stood up early to get near the door, a few seconds later he stood up too. He obviously could have been going anywhere but he was in sweatpants and this was the business district so your mind starts to go to these places. When the train stopped I decided to hover and he did walk out in front of me, I wanted to keep him in front of me. It’s a busy station so I was trying to make sure I lost him. At the bottom of the steps he turned around and looked at me so I made sure I was stuck behind a small crowd that I could have walked around and then I proceeded up the stairs really slowly. But of course at the top of the stairs he was stood there trying to decide which way to go. Yeah, he could have just been deciding which way to go but at this point how did I know he hadn’t just followed me off a train. He finally turned left which was good because I needed to go right and I proceeded through the underground tunnel as quick as I could, frequently turning to see if he’d started going my way instead. I’d already decided on the escalator that if he was behind me I’d go and talk to the guard at the ticket gate and make sure he got away from me. He wasn’t there and I continued to work through the dark city streets turning round far too often, just to check.
Now this may seem like a small situation to you. But the point is it was a situation. It was something I had to think about and even fucking strategise about when I should have just been reading my book on my way to work. And this happens to women every day. In all different types of variations. The thing I have a problem with is that I should not have to feel unsafe or uncomfortable just trying to get to work. Just trying to exist in every day life. It’s not fair.
And a man may have looked at this guy and thought yeah, bit of a creep. But then they probably would have moved on with their day. I doubt they were turning their head the rest of their way to work in the dark. If you were, I apologise for belittling your experience. But speaking from the majority, men wouldn’t need to care about that small scenario because that’s not been their experience of life.
Boys aren’t often told to carry their keys between their fingers if they’re walking in the dark alone. Boys aren’t told to not make eye contact with someone you think is suspicious but make sure you always have them in your peripherals. Boys aren’t told that never mind walking in the streets, taxis definitely aren’t safe either! Boys aren’t told to text when they get home, or not to take that shortcut even though it would get you home fifteen minutes quicker. So it is different. And you have to understand that.
Anyway, I just felt a bit spooked out for the rest of my shift and I told people in work about it and I was not surprised that the other women started drowning me in their similar stories but I did notice the look of surprise and horror on some of the men’s faces. These are good people, I assume, so they don’t even consider that as something that happens to people every day whereas the women gave me the ‘I’m sorry that happened to you, what can you do’ look. We’re all familiar with it.
So I thought I would talk about it because I’ve seen a lot of people think that sexual assault is rape and that’s it. They don’t realise or haven’t thought about where behaviour like that begins. You may think something as ‘innocent’ as a catcall should be received with flattery but usually you’re actually just making someone uncomfortable and even angry. But again, you wouldn’t know that because not many women are going to stop and shout at you because you’re usually a big group of men.
And they want to take guards off the Liverpool trains.
Something to think about.
Creep – Radiohead