Being A Woman At Night Absolutely Terrifies Me

Being A Woman At Night Absolutely Terrifies Me

Every man poses a potential threat.

I'm walking down the street alone in the dark, with my phone clutched in one fist and my keys sticking out of the other.

A dark shadow— or two or three— are walking towards me, and the only thing I can tell is that they're men and that I'm afraid.

And it doesn't matter what race they are; White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, or if they're large or small. The sight of any man when I'm alone at night strikes fear deep inside of me. I've heard too many stories.

And every time one passes me, without more than a quick nod, I can't help the sigh of relief that escapes my lungs. I'm safe. For now.

This petrifying fear that I live with every day of my life, simply because I was born a woman, haunts me.

I run through scenarios in my head. Could I activate my emergency alert fast enough? Where would I have to hit him to cause the most damage, so that I could get away?

And people tell me to walk with a group, or not to dress a certain way, or to make any number of changes to myself and my situation to ensure my own safety.

Has anyone ever told men not to threaten women? Has anyone ever told them that our bodies are not their playgrounds, and that our safety is not something that's open for negotiation?

Do they understand that they don't have to be doing anything, that their mere presence when we're alone is enough to make us afraid? Do they know that we know "not all men" are a threat to women, but that enough are that we have to walk on eggshells if we want to walk at all?

Is it too much to ask to be able to walk without being harassed? Is it too much to guarantee that I'll make it to my destination safely?

I shouldn't have to second guess stopping at a gas station at midnight or flinch in fear when I walk across an overpass. I shouldn't have to jaywalk across the street because if I push the button and wait at the corner, I'm a sitting target— and because as long as I keep moving, I'll be harder to catch.

How do I smile and nod at a man passing me on the street, indicating to him that I'm not afraid, while also making him aware that I don't want to engage in conversation and that I don't want to provoke his attention?

And how do I decide which men are trustworthy? Fathers, brothers, uncles, boyfriends, friends? I know there are good men out there. I know them personally. The good far outweighs the bad, but unfortunately, the bad still exist.

I am a woman. And every time I leave my home I am afraid. I live in a world in which violence against women is so common, nobody bats an eye anymore. Every woman has a story about the threat of men in her life and we're all just taught that it's part of the price we pay for being born female; that there's nothing to be done about it, to just take it in stride.

But I'm done being afraid. I'm done being passive and complicit in my own dehumanization. I'm done accepting that to be a woman means to be harassed, objectified, or worse. No more.

We all deserve to live in a world where we get home safely at night, where we don't have to be constantly checking over our shoulders, where every stranger we encounter isn't a potential threat.

It's time to change the narrative, to stand up for one another, to be people who treat others with respect and to raise the next generation to do the same. If we all work together and create a safer environment for women, we can truly change the world.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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Austin Alexander Burridge, Volunteer Advocate, Shares 3 Great Reasons to Volunteer and Help Others

Austin Alexander Burridge is an avid academic who studies Environmental Science at Winona State University and believes that work in the service of others is a key pillar to personal development.


Sometimes it's easy for someone to adopt a "me, me, me" attitude. While focusing on oneself, a person may feel nice in the moment, but serving and helping others will bring lasting benefits. While there are many great reasons to serve and help others, there are three universal truths that resonate with volunteers around the globe.

Austin Alexander Burridge's 3 Reasons to Volunteer:

1. Accomplishment

Often, people fall into a trap of focusing on themselves when they are feeling down. Maybe someone did not get a job they wanted. Or perhaps a person gets dumped by an expected lifelong companion. Maybe someone feels they have underachieved after looking at Facebook and seeing great things a high school classmate has accomplished. When feeling down, helping others is a proven way to improve one's mood and attitude, and it can provide a sense of pride and accomplishment. The act of giving to those in need is an inherently good action and leaves people with a wonderful feeling of joy.

2. Gratitude

One can become more appreciative of life by serving others that have less. Whether volunteering at a soup kitchen, visiting the elderly at an assisted living center, or helping families after a natural disaster, service enables people to be grateful for what they have. Seeing people who have fewer advantages, especially those who are spirited and thankful for small things, allows one to realize just how fortunate he/she is in life.

3. Friendships

Volunteering is a great way to build meaningful friendships, not only with other volunteers but also with those who are served. One of the most profound and fascinating aspects of these relationships is how volunteers will learn from those served and vice versa. As these special bonds are built, they lead to impactful connections that last for years to come.

Of course, these are just a few reasons to volunteer and serve others. One can never go wrong by helping others as opposed to merely focusing on oneself. Volunteering invariably and inevitably contributes to personal growth, development, and satisfaction.

About Austin Alexander Burridge: Helping others has been of paramount importance to Austin, and as a part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Austin gave back to the community around him. He also has participated in annual peanut butter drives, The Minnesota Sandwich Project for the Homeless and collected canned goods for local food shelters. Additionally, Austin has a passion for the environment, which he pursued when visiting the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, and the Amazon Rain Forest while studying at the School of Environment Studies, which investigates ecological systems and their sustainability

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Social Control

According to Merriam Webster, social control is "the rules and standards of society that circumscribe individual action through the inculcation of conventional sanctions and the imposition of formalized mechanisms." Social norms, rules, laws, and structures within a society are just a few of the methods that keep our society "in-line".


Informal vs Formal

There are two types of social control. There is informal social control which is enforced by family, peers, teachers, etc. and is often referred to as "socialization". Informal social control refers to values, norms, and belief systems of a society. Then there is formal social control which is enforced by the government through police and military. Formal social control refers to laws of society and topics such as terrorism.

For more information regarding informal and formal social control, check out: Definition of Social Control

Positive Social Control

Positive social control is related to the idea of getting rewarded for good work, rather than be hurt for doing something wrong.

For example, you will be given a raise at work if you prove you deserve it, but you will not be tortured if you don't take that extra step. Socialization is the primary way that social order is kept, and is a perfect example of positive social control. There is also a physical organization to society that keeps everything in harmony. Traffic signals, paved roads, and crosswalks are just a few examples of how physical additions to our everyday lives work together to avoid conflict.

There are many benefits that come along with positive social control as well. Raises, bonuses, and praise are all rewards that come along with following rules and norms.

Negative Social Control

Negative social control is related to the idea of discrimination and/or shame. It uses harsh punishment, torture, pressure, and/or threats to keep the peace and order rather than rewarding good behavior.

For example, Hitler used violence and discrimination to keep the Jews "under control" during the Holocaust.

For more information regarding positive and negative social control, check out: Types of Social Control Formal & Informal, Positive & Negative

Examples of Social Control

Religious Social Control

People who follow a religion tend to develop morals and behavior patterns based on what their religion preaches. These people will avoid committing crimes, hate-speech, or anything else their religion deems as "sinful" in order to avoid punishment during or after their death. Many people tend to believe that religion was created with the sole purpose to control people and keep the social order, while dedicated followers beg to differ.

Economic Social Control

Economic social control is attainable by controlling production or controlling an entire society through their economics (cutting off food supplies, stealing from the poor, etc.) Richer people and industrialists tend to control the lower class and their consumers through status and money.

Wealth = Power

Political Social Control

Political social control is the most influential type of social control. The government regulates money, sources and supplies, the laws, police forces, and many more which when put all together becomes social control. The government balances every aspect of what creates harmony and peace within a society, protecting the people from anarchy.

For more information regarding examples of social control, check out:: Social Control: Meaning, Types and Unfavourable Effect

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