Don’t Go Out Alone

Well all right, if you can’t imprison and confine and repress women by putting them in purdah, or making them wear bags whenever they go outside, or slicing their genitals off, or smashing their feet, or whipping them with car antennas if they show a bit of hair or wrist – well hell, just get serious and stab them to death. That’ll teach them! I mean they’ve got a hell of a nerve thinking they get to go outside on their own, haven’t they. Who do they think they are? Adults? Responsible human beings like other people? Of course they’re not! They should be safely inside their houses, preferably in their kitchens, doing what women are supposed to be doing.

Oh, I know, that’s a bit unfair and intemperate. This sort of thing could happen to anyone, really, at least to anyone smaller and weaker and more knifeless than the assailant. But so often it is women it happens to, and then out come the warnings.

Detectives last night warned women not to go jogging on their own after a 39-year-old was left fighting for her life following a knife attack by a man believed to be responsible for murdering another female runner…’While we do not wish to be alarmist, we would ask that women who are jogging in parks or exercising their dogs try to be in the company of a friend,’ he added. ‘There are a large number of similarities between the two attacks. Both involved women of small stature, jogging alone through parks.

Try to be in the company of a friend. But what if walking alone is an activity you happen to enjoy and value? And what if the ability to walk alone is an ability you value even more? What if the idea of deciding to stop walking alone in parks makes you feel like a damn prisoner? What then?

You ignore the warning, that’s what, and go on walking alone whenever and wherever you feel like it, just as you always have. And in truth the warning is slightly absurd. Statistically, what are the odds of getting stabbed to death (or stabbed at all) in the local park, even if you are alone, even if you’re a tiny woman and it’s three in the morning? Not all that likely, surely. It’s not as if every park is stuffed with knife-carrying would-be murderers, just waiting for some fool of a woman to come toddling along, is it. No. There appears to be one out there, who has killed one woman and nearly killed another. That’s horrible and disgusting, obviously, but is it really reason to stop going into parks alone? Surely not. A great many more people are killed in car crashes every day, more people on foot are killed by cars every day, but people don’t stop either driving or crossing the street.

But the mere suggestion makes me indignant – as you may have noticed. Well I don’t like having murderers tell me how I get to live my life, even by implication. I’m nowhere near Clissold Park, or London, but that’s beside the point. This kind of thing is a meme, it spreads, it has to be resisted. I used to do a lot of hitch-hiking in my youth – all the way through my twenties, in fact. Alone. Of course I was warned against it, often by people who gave me lifts, and of course I already knew it was dangerous. But I did it anyway. I would have regretted that decision if anything horrible had happened, and I was aware of that when I did it, but I did it anyway. I did not want to be confined by fears. I wanted the adventure, I wanted the adventure that other people got to have, people called men; I didn’t want to accept limitations. So out I went, on roads and highways in the UK and Ireland and California. Defiantly. I had a good time, too. I had my adventure.

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