I realize I'm a little bit late to the party, but I've been pondering life as a woman a lot since the #Yesallwomen hashtag made its big debut about a week (or was it two?) ago. As a woman, I am always careful. And when I slip up, I get pretty angry at myself. Most of the following post I actually wrote in my journal about a month ago, and I thought it would be fitting to share some of it here.
We as women are always looking over our shoulders, and it's something a lot of men do not understand. Even my own wonderful boyfriend thinks I'm "overreacting" in certain situations.
I've been a lot more paranoid lately. Every random man walking by my apartment or standing near my car or trying to make small talk is, to my overactive brain, a predator. A rapist. A serial killer. I've always been weary and paid attention to my surroundings. Because I've seen that episode of Criminals Minds.
Blame it on my grandparents. I spent my childhood watching NYPD Blue, Law and Order, old film noir detective movies, Magnum PI, Murder She Wrote....basically if murder was involved, I watched it. And that theme has continued into my adulthood. Criminal Minds is my current obsession if you didn't already know.
But the last few weeks my paranoia has gone up a few notches. I like to think it's more than paranoia though. I like to think it's my brain protecting me from any sort of negative things that could possibly happen. I just bought a brand new car. Is one of those bike-riding teens in my neighborhood who I've seen eying my car going to steal it?? (Disclaimer-I really don't live in the greatest neighborhood-it's pretty much like a block or two away from the "bad" neighborhood.) My boyfriend has been out of town a lot recently too. So maybe it's a completely normal reaction to feeling vulnerable.
I've told people about some recent "close encounters". Those guys standing right outside my apartment, just watching me walk from my car to my door. The whistling I heard early one morning outside my bedroom window, and the empty beer bottle sitting on my porch. What if I'm being stalked? What if someone is canvassing me?
Am I overreacting? Definitely. But I'm not going to stop. I've read those articles in Glamour and Cosmo. I'm not letting my guard down. I'm keeping my phone on me when I walk my dog. I'm barracading my doors when the boyfriend is out of town.
Because what if I'm not overreacting? Too many women make that mistake. They don't want to seem rude, they want to be nice. Even though something in their gut is telling them to walk away, call a friend, go to a crowded area. When there are strange men standing outside my apartment building watching me, and my palms get sweaty, my heart starts racing, and I want to throw up, that's my body giving me a message. 99% of the time the person you're worrying about is completely harmless and doesn't even realizing they are making you uncomfortable.
But what about the rest of the time? I for one am not letting my guard down. Like I said, I've seen that episode of Criminal Minds.