If we shouldn’t walk alone? We shouldn’t go home, either.
The best thinking has been done in solitude. – Thomas Edison
Without great solitude, no serious work is possible. – Pablo Picasso
A man can be himself only so long as he is alone, and if he does not love solitude, he will not love freedom, for it is only when he is alone that he is truly free. – Arthur Schopenhauer
Oh, how deeply these men understood the importance of solitude. Imagine the great works we’d have missed had so many men not assumed without question their human right to not only endure solitude, but seek it out! At home, in a garret, on a street or in a café; by the sea, down a lane, on a mountaintop…
But I’m waxing romantic. Walking down a street alone, or across a park is as banal as using toilet paper sometimes – just an unnoticeable act of practicality. So ordinary in fact, you shouldn’t need to think twice about it.
And yet, it is on the ‘advice’ of many public servants, police authorities and respected moral philosophers – the very people so certain of their own common sense that they humbly put themselves forward as appropriate keepers of public safety, human progress and civic order – that we women, young and old, one half of the world’s population – should take care to not walk home alone.
And yet, if we sidestep the lazy socio-emotional overture of that suggestion and follow that bizarre logic, it would follow to consider these choices too, ladies:
Don’t go home;
Don’t go to a university.
Don’t accept a mentorship.
Don’t accept a ride home from a friend.
Don’t become a surgeon.
If you must go shopping, do be sure to have a gang of ladies unbothered by other priorities readily available to accompany you and your vegetables to the car.
Don’t go out! But — be careful if you’re staying home.
Don’t say they didn’t warn us!
There are 34 women dead in Australia since January 1st. Some of them happened while the woman was walking alone — although the vast majority was not perpetrated by strangers lurking in shadows, but to a partner, ex-parter or family member.
What that number tells us is this: There is an important conversation that needs to take place about the prevention of violence and rape against women and girls.
The thing is, that conversation dead-ends the minute anyone starts it with ‘advice’ to women about where (and how) they can walk. Because it is the most cowardly of beginnings, it doesn’t rid us of the act of rape. It simply swaps out the potential victim in a tail-chasing trap of ‘inevitability’.
It’s the non-starter that abdicates all responsibility for trying to stop a problem at its core.