June 16, 2014 § Leave a comment
While most Alabamians are out enjoying this gorgeous weather, I’m stuck in bed sick and worrying about being shot. I grew up in the age of Columbine, so school shootings are something I’ve thought a lot about, using that slaughter to mark the end of my childhood as I realized I could die anywhere, anytime. This is always present in my mind in some way, though I usually picture it as a random situation rather than being hunted down.
In the wake of the recent Santa Barbara school shooting, I’ve been thinking more carefully about my own risk. The shooter’s vocalizations and writings about his terrifyingly misogynistic views towards women have stuck a special cord with me, leading me to reevaluate my own safety here in Birmingham.
As some of you know, I was stalked and harassed by a young man over a period of four years. I felt reasonably safe for most of that time because I didn’t live in Alabama, but when I moved back to Birmingham, my concerns rose to such an extent as to have the police investigate whether said stalker had a gun license or permit. After seeing him in my neighborhood, I was relieved to move out to Texas where I could hide in anonymity. But now I’m back in town again, and he’s seen me here. So with that in mind already, plus the rantings and ravings of a lunatic rejected by women in Santa Barbara, I once again feel my own vulnerability. I hesitate every time I leave my house when I know I’m entering into the public sphere where I have no protection against lunatics with weapons who view me as theirs despite my constant, clear rejection.
So what do I do? What can I do? I’ve been looking into taking some self-defense classes (which are LONG overdue), purchasing a tazer, and even buying a gun of all things (yes, I can shoot. I’m from Alabama, after all.) but really, none of that will protect me from someone who wants to shoot me. The self-defense and tazer aren’t bad ideas though because I do reject guys at bars firmly and without wimpy excuses. I simply say “I’m not interested.” with my most serious, intense look which I think is far more feminist a thing to say than “I have a boyfriend.” It’s certainly better than letting a guy buy me a drink and follow me around the rest of the night. Unfortunately, men don’t like rejection and far more insecure men don’t like a woman being blunt and to-the-point when she rejects them, so I have feared for my safety a few times in retrospect, after I’ve safely made it home but am reflecting on my absurd walk alone to the car.
Despite the steps we take to protect ourselves, we are always vulnerable. As a woman, I will always be a target, always a victim. I wonder sometimes if being bold and blunt and a feminist (and occasionally a smartass) will result in my demise at the hand of a man who felt disrespected, embarrassed, or rejected. I suppose everything we do has a price.