If You Go Down to the Woods Today

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Yesterday, I got it into my head that I wanted to go down to the creek and read a book.

So, I packed a thermos of coffee, a blanket, a book, my journal, and my knitting, and I headed out to Jackson’s Park. Not exactly a trek across the Andes; I live right next door. No sherpa required.

I found a nice spot down by the creek – not the bigger part of the creek by the pagoda bridge, but the little, windy, secret part down by the trail. It was a beautiful day yesterday, not too hot, but not chilling into fall quite yet.

I spent a pleasant couple of hours. A little Atwood, a little entrelac, a bit of “dear diary”. But the most amazing thing about sitting beside running water for me is – BOOM. Instant nap. Now, is it safe for a lone woman to take a nap down a little-used trail? This occurred to me after the fact. It felt quite safe at the time, but in retrospect, was it really?

It pisses me off that I have to even consider whether I was safe or not. It’s a public greenspace, and I was doing nothing but enjoying the day. I was fully clothed, doing nothing illegal, and being very quiet, doodling and dreaming. On my own time. There should have been nothing but pleasure attached to my small excursion. And yet, somewhere in the back of my head, there was a feeling that I did not have a right to be there alone; that I was somehow putting myself at risk, and should “know better”.

What bothers me is that the onus of protecting my personal safety was put on me. The expectation is for ME not to put myself in a position where I’m isolated from any assistance. Well, that’s not where it should be. The onus should be on other people not to be violent, aggressive assholes. I should be able to do as I please, if I’m harming no one. I feel like I do NOT have the right to be alone, and I very much like to be alone.

So, yeah, the whole “she was dressed slutty/drunk/asking for it” argument in response to rape. Don’t presume to tell me how to dress or behave. I’m a damn grownup, and I will behave in any manner I see fit, should it harm no one else. We need to educate the perpetrators, not the victims.

I’m not a victim, not this time. I had a great day goofing around in the woods, and I saw no one except a lady with an excitable little dog and a guy on a bike, and I think I startled him more than he did me.

What really galls me is that I had to even consider whether I would be safe on my own. I just feel like I should have a right to simply expect to be safe, without having this niggling little voice in the back of my head telling me that I’m being reckless. Yeah. Reading and knitting are totally reckless. I’m a rebel, baby. But apparently, not allowed to be a loner.

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