I like to go places and do things. I’m not sure what my problem is, but I get bored easily and need new experiences constantly to occupy my mind and to entertain myself, which is probably why I like living in big cities and traveling. And those are two things women are often warned not to do, especially (dun, dun, dun) BY THEMSELVES, lest they be raped, killed, molested, stared at funny, etc. I know that the main predisposing factor to being raped is being female, and I know that we live in a world in which women are victimized much, much, much, much, much more often than men are, but that isn’t what I want to talk about right now (I’ll get back to that soon, I’m sure). What I want to talk about right now is the fact that women’s lives are constricted by the mere threat of male malfeasance, and by the threat that engaging in activities that aren’t sufficiently in line with what’s expected of women will result in (oh, no!) spinsterhood.
I like to travel. I’ve been to 31 countries in the last 7 years (no, I’m not counting Canada), all of them by myself, and it seems like every time I’m planning to leave the US, the media, my family, and even some of my friends align themselves into an Axis of Warning in order to keep me from getting on the plane, which nearly works every time. They succeed in scaring me enough to consider NOT going and doing something that I’ll remember for the rest of my life and that will make me a more interesting person. If I listened to movies like Brokedown Palace (which, in addition to trying to scare women off of traveling, sucked worse than Lord of the Rings) and to overblown reports of one in like 9 zillion female travelers being kidnapped or otherwise victimized, I wouldn’t have any of my awesome stories that start with, “Dude, you would not believe what I saw this guy eat/do/stick up his ass in _____.”
And it isn’t just that. Every time I turn around someone is telling me, overtly or implicitly, that I’m taking my life into my hands by living in a major metropolitan area alone and daring to ever exit my triple-bolted apartment door. It seems that if I were to heed the advice explicit and implicit in the news and entertainment media, as well as our culture in general, I’d live with 75 of my armed male relatives in one big house 200 miles from the nearest Post Office and I’d never go outside. Then I’d be safe as hell. As long as none of my 75 armed male relatives was a rapist or anything.
But, were one to move into a house with 75 of her male relatives, she still wouldn’t be safe from being single, that most terrifying of prospects that we women are threatened with by our well-meaning mothers and aunts. I used to be married to a dude who knew when we got married that I’d be traveling 3-4 months a year and had no problem with it, but my aunt was nonetheless constantly telling my mother to warn me that I’d better knock that shit off, stay home, and start having kids lest he leave me for someone who more closely matched her idea of what a married woman ought to be up to (that isn’t what happened). I also keep reading articles about how women are more likely to be killed by terrorists than to “find a husband” past this-or-that age, and about how bad the “odds” are for single women in the city I live in, since there are 100,000 more of them than there are single men.
Is anybody telling dudes any of this bullshit? I know they get the message that if they don’t grow up and make a bunch of money they’ll never land that trophy wife, but are they getting messages from 15 different directions telling them that they need to be afraid, afraid, AFRAID all the fucking time?
Like I said, I know women are more likely to be victimized by men than vice versa, but isn’t part of the goal of rape and violence to push women into a corner and limit their freedom and movement? Aren’t the threats of rape and violence terrorist tactics? Didn’t the president tell us that we shouldn’t let the terrorists win? Alright, I’ll stop joking, but I mean it. Limiting our own lives out of fear of male violence is just as self-defeating as not being aware that the threat exists and failing to take the necessary precautions against it. And so is heeding the bullshit idea that our main objective in life ought to be landing a husband, any husband, and that we ought to tailor our interests and activities toward that, and only that, goal.