On safety + personal space while being a woman

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Last night, I took to Twitter to yell about something complicated, anger-inducing, emotional and downright frightening: the recent, persistent violation of my personal space that I’ve endured in San Francisco. Sometimes when I have a problem that needs solving, quick, short bursts of concise text help me get to the center of the issue: in this case, I’ve lived here for a few years now, but have never felt as physically threatened and violated as I have in finding my way through its streets as of late.

Until just a few weeks ago, I’ve been lucky– I’ve walked the streets of this city relatively unimpeded for 3.5 years, purposely blending in and not sticking out from the crowd. After yet again having a person lay his hands on me without my permission and without good reason for the sixth time in a month yesterday evening, I couldn’t bottle it up anymore.

So I let loose…

 

Over the past few years, I’ve picked up some “survival motions” that I shouldn’t have to go through for my own safety and sanity. I shouldn’t have to do some of these these things, by the way– my body, my clothing, nothing about my physical presence should be up for public policing and shouldn’t be the basis for unwanted attention, but they all are. I should not have to worry about being chased down, but I do worry about how to safely escape being overpowered, attacked, propositioned, about being told to smile or about another person laying his (or her) hands on me in public without permission or no apparent reason. I shouldn’t have to worry about these things, no one should ever have to worry about these things, but lately they’re all I can think about– and it’s not okay.

[Thank you again to everyone who reached out with a kind message or support in the middle of my rant. I truly, truly appreciate it.]

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