By Taylor Blasko
So looking back at the blog I just posted, which was a review about the graphic novel This One Summer, I’m realizing that maybe I wasn’t exactly clear on why that graphic novel keeps being so relevant to my everyday life. While I explained to you all my childhood problems, internalized misogyny is still a thing I deal with on a daily basis. So let me tell you the thing that occurred the other day to once again spark this realization…
So my friend and I went on a walk. It was about 7:30pm when we started the walk. Just getting dark. Twilight. The works. It was light when we started and we finished the walk in pitch black. It’s nothing new for us we always go on walks in the dark, at around 10-4am to be exact.
Ya know what bothers us both? It’s the reprimands we get for walking in the dark. Why? Because we are girls. Girls aren’t supposed to go for walks in the dark. It’s dangerous. Yada yada. Okay sure, shut up now and stop trying to scare me into doing something because I have a vagina and not a penis.
But there we were. It was getting dark, that kind of dark where maybe you see something in front of you or maybe it’s just your eyes playing tricks on you because your squinting too hard to see clearly. That kind of ‘getting dark’ ya know? And out of nowhere my friend and I wheel around because we hear very fast paced aggressive sounding footsteps coming up behind us. It was some man walking at a very fast, tense pace towards us. And all of the peoples’ voices that have ever told me to not go on a walk in the dark came rushing back to me, all at once. I heard my mom, my dad, my professors, my other friends, my boyfriend, all of them, in unison, I realized the grave error of my ways. I realized that it only takes one time for something to go wrong for them to be right.
This man was walking, face down, hood up, loud, hard, fast, aggressive paced footsteps coming towards us. And I think I as good as pushed my friend right off the path as I tried to move as far over to the right for him to pass us. Hopefully. This could be it. He could walk up right behind us and stab us in the back and we’d be done. How would I stop that? I didn’t know. I always carry a pocket knife. I’ve taken 10 years of karate. I still didn’t feel safe. I moved over so far so I could keep him in my peripheral vision as I kept my head slightly turned. But what would I realistically do? One thought switched to my knife. I put my hand on it. Then I realized that this was stupid and if anything happened I would want my hands free to punch the guy. And so I took my hands out of my pockets, by my sides, quietly at the ready. But again, at the ready for what? If he was going to come up behind us and stab us and run, what could I even do? It was too dark for me to even see if he had anything in his hand until the last minute.
He eventually passed us. He didn’t move over to the left side of the path until the last minute though, and he could probably tell he scared the shit out of us because as he passed he lowered his hood. He didn’t slow. He didn’t give a friendly gesture, comment, or wave. He just proceeded. There was something in his left hand though and for the life of me I’ll never know what it was. It could have been something as innocent as his phone. But I didn’t know, and I couldn’t see. And that just made it all the more terrifying.
Was he probably just rushing to get to his car or something since the park we were walking near closes at dusk? Probably? Did he have to be so aggressive and mysterious about it? I mean, in my personal opinion, no.
And here’s the thing. I wasn’t walking at midnight. It was a fairly normal time to be walking it just happened to be getting dark. I wasn’t even walking alone. I was with a friend. But realistically, we were two 22 year old girls, what could we do? Later, my friend told me she had a thought of just turning around and squaring off and punching the dude directly in the face. Which, I guess my gut reaction was something close to that too. But what could we have actually done? What if we would have done that? Nothing actually happened to us so we would have looked like we were looking for a fight. We would have beat up an innocent man who made no advances on us out of fear. Out of fear, because girls are always told that people are on the lookout for us. Going after the vulnerable ones. Always on the prowl for us.
And I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to warn young girls, because the reality of this shitty world is that yes, people are terrible, people rape girls when they walk alone in the dark. I know. But I can’t help thinking that if I was a guy in that situation that it probably wouldn’t have scared me at all. And it’s because guys don’t get those stories to ‘stay scared girls.’ They don’t have a constant fear when walking the streets that people are after them. And it’s not fair. Why does me having a vagina make me a target, yet all these penises can walk around and not ever have to feel the pulse of adrenaline that is that fear of being helpless?
I’m not sure I made my way back to internalized misogyny, but it made sense to me when I started the blog….?