Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

15 March 2010

Women's History Month: Why I hate parking garages

Today's Women's History Tidbit:
1905: Actor, writer and director Margaret Webster is born in NYC, where she will found the American Repertory Theatre and become the first female director of the Metropolitan Opera House.*


 
Damned if we do, dead if we don't.

That's what I was thinking the other day as I was reflecting on the ever continuing death and disappearance of women and girls in our world. Chicago's hand gun ban is in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. Those who want it reversed include people who live in some of the roughest neighborhoods of Chicago and believe that owning a gun is the only way to truly protect themselves and their families. I was thinking this while in the shower, where I feel the safest.

Then as I was parking in a public garage, I was thinking of how much I hate them. They remind me that I'm a woman. That I'm vulnerable. That I need to park in a well-lit spot so that I'm not hidden and big baddies have less space to hide in as well. There's a Target that I frequent where even if it's pouring rain, I will park on the top level so that I don't have to park under anything. Why? Because I feel more safe that way. I finally admitted it to my husband a few months ago when we actually shopped together. He was floored at my thought process. And he's not a guy to not consider safety when traveling out of our home.

But parking garages are my weakness.

I can walk anywhere in my neighborhood without much thought of safety. I wouldn't even know how many gangs intersect at a nearby corner if it weren't for my neighbor telling me. I am safe in my cocoon of ignorance and bliss. Until I park my car...alone.

When I do walk to my car alone at night, I do the girl trick...I call a friend, usually my husband. "Hey, it's me, just walking to my car. Walk with me." When I saw that Shayla Raymond was talking to her boyfriend on the phone while waiting for the bus to arrive, yet still died from harassment, I was floored.Yes, a possibly drunk driver hit her and threw her into the path of another car, but the blood is just as red on the hands of the men who were harassing her. They entered her safe space at that bus stop and she moved to get away from their prying hands and words into the path of a car. Stop Street Harassment also blogged about Shayla.

A few months ago I was coming home from some event kinda late. I was on that high you have when you were just hanging with new friends and had a great time. The martini helped too. I was reading a book on an El train when I noticed this flock of college aged women. Blond, pretty and having a great time. Then the dude. This dude walks into their circle and is trying to engage them. They send clear signals of no, including I also believe a "No, leave us alone." But he didn't.

Instead he kept inching into their space. And he looked like he was enjoying himself...yes, his hand in his pocket, smiling and making some moves with his hand. eewww...The women kept trying to keep him away from their festivities. He kept trying to crash. Finally when we pulled up to a stop, I screamed at the top of my lungs for the fucker to get the fuck off the train. I pushed him off. But I let go too soon. He slipped back on. By then the other men on the train woke the fuck up.

They made a barrier between him and the women. The dude kept complaining that he had the right to be there, he wasn't getting off the train and I know he threw some names at me. I can't recall what he said cause I was fuming and running on adrenaline. But he was still on the train and the next stop was in my direction not his. I wasn't going to rely on a group of lazy ass men, who didn't give a rats ass until I stepped up, to protect me. I got off the train and moved to a new car at the next stop.


Which brings me back to the handgun ban.


I support gun bans. All of them. 1000% sane, regular hunting people should not have guns built to kill people. Period.


But I think, would women be safer if we all were packing heat? Would Shayla be here today if she could whip out a gun instead of walk into the street to get away from harassers? Would I park anywhere the hell I wanted if I had a gun inside my purse? Would I had kept that dude off the El train if I had waved a gun in his face?

Honestly, no. Honestly I think even if every women in Chicago, in the world were armed, we'd still get harassed, pushed, groped and assaulted. I don't think arming ourselves will solve one damn thing.And that's really sad.

* Source: 2010 Women Who Dare Engagement Calendar from the Library of Congress

1 comments:

I also live in a large city, and I share similar worries. It’s sad that many women can’t go anywhere in big cities, without being harassed by men or fearing worse. It all goes back to our society's mindset on men and superiority. Men have hidden privileges and a higher status than women, and that's quite clear through our gender roles today. Although much has improved over the years, it's obviously still a problem. With women being so vulnerable from lack of power in our culture, the constant violence has been a neglected problem.
I think what would help is more education on feminism and woman's history - to bust stereotypes of feminists and to expand the movement.