You Scored! Now Take A 'Walk Of Shame!'
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You Scored! Now Take A 'Walk Of Shame!'

Or how about a victory lap? Why the idea of "the walk of shame" is a major loser...

You Scored! Now Take A 'Walk Of Shame!'

As the brisk air filled my lungs and made me shiver, I couldn’t help but smile at the absolutely lovely scene I was strolling through. The sky was bright and the sun was lingering sleepily over the hills, greeting the world and welcoming Sunday in a properly lazy fashion. There were birds chirping, and I walked down the middle of the street with a clear head feeling fresh and alive, despite my leftover outfit and makeup. I arrived home at about 6:40 am, and as I mulled about the kitchen to make a snack (is it considered breakfast, then?) in a pleasant mood, I wondered why the activities of mornings like these are so poorly labeled.

Here I was at home after the dreaded “walk of shame” feeling delightful — should I have been feeling ashamed? I had just stooped to an all time low and *gasp,* walked home in the morning by myself after a fun night out. I decided to crash somewhere else instead of struggling home in the freezing cold, under the fall of darkness; I guess that’s something society has decided is wrong and that I should feel guilty and ashamed of. Oops, my bad. I guess I missed the memo because I don’t regret a damn thing about my night and my enlightening little escapade returning home afterward.

Despite my delight and conscious conceptualization of my walk home, I still felt the need to sneak out early, just after the sunrise but before anyone else would be awake and about for the day, to avoid the possibility of being ‘caught’ in last night’s attire with bed hair and smudged eyeliner. I felt silly thinking that way, because I had nothing to be afraid of and could have easily gotten a few more hours of sleep before returning home (where I probably would have continued to sleep, to be honest), but the thought of seeing someone I knew in my mussed up morning state was enough to lure me out of one warm bed, into the -5 degree temperatures and back into my own room for the remainder of the morning.

I felt the need to go home because I was hungry and wanted to get some quality sleep before the day ahead, and I didn’t want to fumble around in the morning and deal with roommates and the like. Or at least that’s what I told myself… none of that really mattered that much, and maybe I was avoiding the fear of impending judgment had I stayed a little longer and been seen going home. Maybe I wanted to feel accomplished having gone for a walk before 7 am, but who really knows what that thought process was. Bottom line is, if there was any kind of subconscious fear of being shamed running through my mind, that is a big problem.

Why do we still shame and judge women for having fun (which sometimes involves expressing their sexuality) and heading home afterward?

It’s as if with the fall of night boundaries are lifted, expectations become blurred and judgments hazy. But, with the rising of the sun, once again expectations settle, and women are no longer to move about under the looser terms of the darker hours.

I knew that I faced nothing but silent judgment walking home if someone would have seen me, which makes me very lucky — the fact that I even have to say that is absurd, but it’s true. There have been cases of serious harassment of women walking home, where male students sit out on porches or on the roof of what is usually a fraternity house, yelling insults, laughing, and throwing crushed beer cans and other trash at women walking by in the morning. Some of these guys join in the taunting of the girls who have just left their own rooms to walk home. This brings up a host of other issues (like respect, double standards, groupthink, sexual harassment, and exploitation), but nonetheless, emphasizes the immense amount of shame directed at women for pursuing sexual lives that aren’t completely private.

Performing the walk of shame, and might I add what a performance it is — trying to make hair and makeup presentable without any tools to do it, smoothing wrinkled clothes that are not designed for daylight hours, and walking with poise on tired feet in last night’s heels is all part of the show, all while trying to maintain an unaffected demeanor— puts the sex life, or really the supposed sex life, of a woman on display for passersby and the infliction of societal judgement. But it’s not a secret; it shouldn't have to be something kept under the lock-and-key-privacy provided by nighttime. Men have sex lives; women have sex lives. Sex is good and healthy and should be a respected act, not a humiliating one!

No one should have to feel bad about walking home, no matter what they look like, what time of day it is, or what the activities were that they were doing before going home. The walk of shame could transition into something empowering to get rid of old stigmas that just plain make people, especially women, feel bad about themselves. It would be a much more victorious finish to what was probably a great night to be able to take “the stride of pride” home instead of a “walk of shame.” People should applaud those who make the trek back home after a night, cheering them on, I mean after all… they probably scored!

So now that it’s spring break, I’m home and inside hiding from the brisk air this time, I will delight in not having to walk anywhere for an entire week. But when I return to college life, I plan to cheer on the brave souls who spend the night and start their day with a walk, and I hope others will join me! Happy spring break, I hope that yours is warmer and involves more shameless living than mine will! Keep taking “victory laps” and “walking with pride” my friends!

xoxo- Abby

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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