After dark

Apparently there’s a man in my area assaulting women. The coverage comes with the usual advice:

investigators [believe] the offender or offenders [are] local, and warned women in the area not to go out on their own at night.

I’m one of those misbegotten women who doesn’t have a designated protector this week (my husband is overseas, I don’t know anyone else in the area, I don’t own a car and walk to and from the shops and public transport all the time) so for me this constitutes advice to be housebound between sunset and sunrise. Not terribly possible really, I already have plans for Saturday, Monday and Thursday nights and when I come home from them I’ll be bravely forging my way home from the train station alone. (After all, since there’s an attacker on the loose, it would seem unwise to ask for or accept an escort from a stranger!)

There’s been extensive commentary on the wrong-headed nature of this kind of advice before: many women are as much or more at risk from people who live in their house, some women are at risk from the kind gentleman who offers to accompany them on their dangerous walk home and some of us just plain have lives and can’t drop everything to hide ourselves from the local pervs and bastards. It’s like asking us to not only lock our doors, but set up force fields and install nuclear bunkers in order to protect ourselves from house theft. Probably better to suggest that if there’s a man near you in the wee hours wearing bikini underwear that you yell really loudly and hit him in the nose if possible.

Having said all this, I am wondering how good I’ll be at braving the mean streets this fortnight after reading that. I’ve had enough creep experiences on the late night trains already this year to make anyone want to get a car. (One guy was masturbating and trying to corner me, another was drunk and muttering fantasies about slitting the throats of all the passengers and raping all the women.) It’s not as though the risk of sexual intimidation and assault is so low as to be actually practicially zero.

Incidently, I’m really not looking for advice about this. I’m complaining about the woes of existence. I do know I’d probably feel happier if I took a self-defence course at some point, but suspect it would be false confidence: most non-trivial impacts will sublux my right shoulder, and at that point I believe a fight would be lost.