Monday, March 06, 2006

Reclaim the streets

I’ve already posted something similar about the issue of street sexual harassment.

It’s assumed that a woman walking alone in a public space becomes public property. A mobile display of body parts that seem to be suddenly disengaged from the actual person that she is. I find myself thinking twice about a lot of things when I step out.

I debate over which route I should take home, depending on what time of the day it is. I think about getting tinted windows when I’m driving home alone at night. Whether outstation trips are safer by bus or by train.

I think twice when I rummage through my closet and look for something to wear. I have separate clothes for when I use public transport. For when I drive. For a girls’ night out, when we don’t want to be hit on by strangers. For when I’m with the boys and I know someone will be looking protectively over my shoulder.

I wear separate faces for friends and strangers. It’s not who I am, the brisk-walking, half-frowning girl you see on the roads.
I smile a lot. I like laughing at myself. I do charcoal sketches. I like my navel ring. I tell rambling stories and I forget what I wanted to say initially. I'm proud of my muscular legs.
I'm more than a girl with a backpack.
I love walking alone. I would love to bend over and pick up a torn butterfly wing from the sidewalk. But the footpath is not mine. The roads are borrowed. And the public space is for a public from which I am excluded.

Much has been said. But so much more needs to be heard.

As part of the Blank Noise Project blogathon.