I shouldn't be afraid to walk to my car alone, but I am. I should be able to feel confident as I walk under the night sky to retrieve the wallet I left in my passenger seat, but I'm not. Instead, I walk with my keys between my knuckles even though I've heard that by the time a man gets that close to you you're in trouble, but I've always been taught it never hurts to be careful. The short walk to the car consists of anxious glances to the left and right and jumping at the sound of anything other than the gravel that crunches with each step because I've heard the stories of what happens to girls who walk alone late at night.
I shouldn't be afraid to wear a dress that accentuates my curves, but I am. Do I expect to be noticed? Maybe, possibly, yes. Do I expect a possible whistle or a guy saying hello? Maybe, possibly, yes. Do I expect to be taken advantage of? I don't, but I am haunted by the stories of young girls and women being told that maybe if they had covered up more then maybe they wouldn't have been assaulted, as if their outfit is an invitation to do whatever one may please with their body.
I shouldn't be afraid to leave my drink unattended at a party, but I am. I shouldn't have to monitor a boy like a child to make sure something is not slipped into the red solo cup that could cause me to slip into helpless unconsciousness because somehow, if something happens, I may be asked how much I drank that night rather than focusing on how I'm drowning every single day in the painfully scarring details that live with me forever about how a boy forced himself upon me when I wasn't capable of saying no.
I shouldn't be afraid to report a rape, but I am. I so desperately wish that I didn't have to be afraid, but far too many times women have fallen victim to the blame of not taking the safe route and walking alone, teasing men by wearing clothing that is deemed as revealing, or putting themselves in a difficult situation by having a few drinks. I am afraid to feel guilty even though the guilty one is the man who would use my body as if it were just a form of entertainment. I am afraid that no one would believe me and that I would just be seen as the girl who cried wolf.
I am afraid that the man who attacks me will be excused for his actions because "he was under the influence" or because "he thought I wanted it." I am afraid that the saying, "boys will be boys" will escalate from excusing boys for hitting us on the playground to excusing boys for violating a woman's body and the rights that come along with it. I am afraid that there is a group of people trying to be heard but the roaring sound of rape culture is deafening them.
I shouldn't be afraid to walk to my car alone.
But I am.