I was tired on Friday night. I’d spent 4 hours making meatballs for my yearly holiday party, cleaned my apartment and made cookies. I threw on my coat and trudged over to the local pizza shop for a slice, because I was hungry and there was absolutely no way that I could cook – the kitchen was CLEAN.
I really wish I had just stayed home.
As I was making my way back from the store, three men approached me going in the opposite direction.
The first said “Where’s your guide dog?” and without thinking I just kept walking, using my cane and said “I have a cane.”
My feet moved faster, I didn’t want to continue this. And then I hear:
“I’ll be your guide dog. I’ll guide you to my dick.”
His friends laugh, and one of them says “And then mine.”
I was ANGRY. I just continued along my way, moving as quickly as I could through the dark streets three blocks from my apartment. I sat down at the kitchen table, my husband was asleep on the couch. I couldn’t eat. I had been hungry before, but suddenly I just felt sick.
And then I started to cry.
I’m used to this in some capacity. People make “jokes” about my cane and try to hit on me with it (“I’ll let you play with my stick if you let me play with yours”)
Even so, this is the second time since we’ve moved to our current neighborhood that I have felt deeply unsafe and threatened in my area. These comments terrify me, because I know at the root of it, is the fact that people think I’m lucky to be getting the attention. It’s the fact that I know they thought they were being FUNNY.
It’s never funny. It’s always fucked up. It is always terrifying.
My body is mine. No amount of cajoling will get me to give up the right to own it. I hate the people who act as though my body, and my disability, are public property. When do I get to be safe on the streets where I live? When I do I get to stop the knot in my stomach when I step out of the door by myself?
It makes me WANT a guide dog. Not because I deeply need one, but because I think if I had a german shepherd by my side people would think twice before fucking with me.
I spent Friday night trying to stop shaking. I spent Friday night and most of Saturday morning having pangs of anxiety rack my body.
It’s not just about the psychological effects of what people say, it’s about the physical ones. I wish it were easier to be a woman in this world. I wish we had more options than to just to be afraid. I wish there were a way for me to be safer, but the problem isn’t with how I dress, or that I carry a cane instead of walk with a dog. The issue is a social one. It is about how society tells people it’s okay to treat women this way. It is about what we tell people through media, through song, and through action. Would people think it was OK to do this if rape was better handled by law enforcement? Would people think this was acceptable if standing up and telling those guys off happened? When did we become a society that refused to protect each other?
I don’t like living in fear of the people I walk past. I don’t like living in a world where I can’t identify the people who did that to me, and that really, even if I could – there’s nothing I can do. Safety belongs to those with the privilege to not need it. Those who inflict the fear, are those who hold the power – and they are always safer than I am. I will be faulted for going out by myself late at night, the implication being that I am not capable of caring for myself. The solution is not that I should never be let out of my home, but that we need to change the dialogue on disabled safety from that of “it is your fault for being weak” to “preying on those with a disability is evil.” Something in our culture has to change for this to stop happening to me, and to the other people with disabilities who are threatened. Something in our culture has to change so that women’s bodies are not public property.
All I can do is write. Process. Change. All I can do is use my voice to say no, and ask others to do the same.