Do you think it’s contradictory to tell me not to go out at night while disagreeing with victim-blaming as a whole?
Last night I texted my brother, as I usually do most nights, to see how he was doing. After talking briefly about my approaching birthday and my aspirations I said to him, “Being a lady is hard. Is being a guy hard?”
After a few exchanged texts I then said, “I don’t like it when people tell me to stay in at night. It’s not fair. Rapists get 24hrs in a day and I only get 12.”
I should add that amoung the many driving forces that pushed me to move out of my mother’s home, my experiences as a little girl aided my decision. From ages 10 to 14 I wasn’t allowed to go out without my brother. When I was 11 my mother enrolled my brother and I into swimming classes. I got hooked very quickly and learned how to float and glide through the water like a pro; I was happy to find that at the end of my third course I had master enough of the techniques that I was allowed to move on to the next level. My brother however didn’t pass, which frustrated him to the point that he refused to return to our recreation centre. Because of this I was not allowed to move on to the next level. To be honest with you, I still only know how to float.
While I understood my mother’s logic, I often felt like I was being penalized for being a girl. I hated that someone else could choose what leisure activities I could partake in. If my brother wasn’t going there, I couldn’t go there; yet, if I wasn’t going there he still could. When I moved out I was allowed to go out at whatever time and wherever I wished, but I also realized that I was now the only one who could protect me.
My brother said the same thing to me last night: “Remember, down there only you have your back.”
To aid my insomnia and PTS without medication, I take on activities that tucker me out: I go to the gym to run. To stop myself from staying up until 7am every night I’ll jog on the treadmill for 30minutes, lift some weights and run on the elliptical. Now I only do this 4 times a week at most and I’ve noticed a significant difference in my anxiety attacks and sleeping pattern. Somedays, when I’m tied up with work and other projects I won’t get home until 9pm and I’ll realize that I’m on the brink of overthinking what’s needed of me and decide to go to the gym to calm myself down. If I walk I won’t get there until 10pm then I’ll stay until 11:30pm or even midnight. I realize that this is “risky business” but the worry that I have of having a panic attack alone at home is often much stronger.
Later in this conversation my brother says, “Victim-blaming is true and not true at the same time.”
I immediately tell him that victim-blaming is awful, but then he explains himself. And for the sake of paraphrasing what he said I’ll use analogy. My brother told me that while the wolves in the jungle should not be eating people they still see humans as meat. So, I as a human should know not to go out into the jungle at night when the wolves are looking for prey. My brother told me that while it wouldn’t fully be my fault for being eaten I would still have some part in it. I realize that this analogy loses its bearings because wolves act on instinct and as animals cannot be held accountable for their actions (killing them or putting them down is usually how their held accountable, isn’t it?).
So although I understood where my brother was coming from I still felt what he was telling me translated into victim-blaming. Just because I walk alone at night does not justify the actions of a rapist (Here’s the analogy loop hole). I understand his concern though: He was trying to say, “You have to protect yourself from abusers of power even though you shouldn’t have to.”
For this reason, my question is “Do you think it’s contradictory to tell a woman not to go out at night while disagreeing with victim-blaming as a whole?”
You know when people say, “Don’t tell women not to go out at night, teach men not to rape?” I wonder if those people support their female friends walking home alone at night.
Last night, my brother frightened me with rape stories in the news so I left the gym early. When I got to my apartment, I told him I’d start going to the gym earlier. Last night I got to sleep at four. With such a busy schedule, I worry that I won’t be able to maintain this cooping mechanism while keeping my promise to my brother.
Even with my father no longer alive and my brother living in a separate house, my life is still controlled by the actions of men.