There are certain risk associated with living alone, especially living alone on a ground floor. I learned that lesson around this time last year, when my area flooded. At 6:30 in the morning, I awoke to find the water was already half way up my car tires and that my apartment complex had become an island. My roommate’s girlfriend took the canoe to the gas station in search of alcohol (since we and our cars were stranded).
The other apparent risk of living in a ground level apartment is creepers.
Last Thursday’s events lasted only five minutes. I awoke to find a man in a hooded sweatshirt straining to look through my blinds into my bedroom. After he noticed me, he tried to hide before popping up to look through again. I contacted the police and my landlord. The situation has been handled.
I felt violated and couldn’t help but wonder if the guy was just messing around, was after me or was after my stuff. Either way, it was a slap in the face that reminded me of the kind of world we live in.
I’m very passionate about human rights and love to debate solutions to the world’s problems. As a woman, it goes without saying that I have particular interest in gender equality. While this is something I want, it’s not something that exist in any kind of perfect state. While I may be able to live on my own, have a career and vote, there are still people out there who consider me inferior because of my gender.
One of the options I considered for Thursday night was having my boyfriend sleep over in the hopes the presence of a man would deter any malicious intent. In thinking that, I had to admit that this world is more likely to respect my apartment, possessions and person if I associate it all with a man.
My weakness does not come from my gender. If I had the time and motivation to go to the gym and learn how to fight, I could hold my own in a fight just as much as a man. I could learn the differences in fighting someone larger than me and someone smaller than me. My gender does not stop me from defending myself as much as my daily choices do.
A man’s strength and ability to defend himself doesn’t come from his gender either. Just like my ability, his comes from the personal fitness choices he makes on a daily basis. It just so happens that men are more likely to be involved in activities that provide them fighting skills.
Thursday was a lesson in how the world views masculinity and femininity. The first reaction most of my friends had was to insist I not spend that night at my place for my own protection. The second most popular solution involved D spending the night. Hypothetically, let’s say I went with that second option. What would have happened if his presence didn’t deter an assault? What would people say if he failed to protect me or got seriously hurt trying to keep me safe?
I bet that, if he failed to protect me, a lot of blame would be put on him. He’d probably feel guilty, not just because he couldn’t protect me but because a ‘real man’ should be able to protect his lover. If he was able to protect me, but was hurt in the process, likely most would feel like he did his duty. While it would be sad that he was hurt, most people would feel like he did what was right.
The world changes slowly. I wonder if, had been male, my friends would have been so insistent that I not spend Thursday night in my apartment. Instead, would they have given me tips on how to fend off a thief or assailant?
I’m not trying to claim any reaction to my creeper is right or wrong (except for the creeper. He was definitely in the wrong). Everyone provided me solid advice based on surviving the world we live in. I can discuss how men and women are viewed in this world in the hopes of slowly changing public opinion to a more equal view of the genders, but that action does not protect me in the moment.Thursday made that abundantly clear.
Even if we lived in a world with perfect gender equality, there would still be crime. People would still be assaulted. Living as I do wouldn’t be any more or less of a risk than it is today. Promoting change and working toward a better future is important, but we still need to know how to protect ourselves today.
Would you ever live on a ground floor apartment? What’s the scariest thing that has ever happened to you while living alone? Do you think men and women are given different advice about how to protect themselves?