I refuse to be a woman afraid of walking home at night

I refuse. 

I refuse to look over my shoulder the moment the sun clocks out for the day. 

I refuse to feel the knot of nerves in my stomach pull tighter at the thought of an after-dark stroll from the gym.

I refuse to allow the men who assault, harass, rape and murder women to have power over what I do, where I walk, who I see. They do enough damage in this world.  

I refuse to entertain people who, upon hearing that I will walk home at night after the gym, or from the shops, will tell me that I’m asking for trouble. 

I refuse to give up freedom and independence in my life to satisfy the wide-eyed stare of a friend who parrots “But you cannot walk around by yourself after dark, it’s dangerous for women!”. 

I refuse to read lists of instructions detailing how I can escape the possibility of being attacked. 

I refuse to shoulder the weight of making myself ‘unrapeable’. 

I refuse to believe that women are just here to make themselves safe, alive women. 

These lists tell us: don’t wear your hair in a ponytail because you are statistically more likely to find a man grabbing a fistful of your hair. And guess what? Women will never stop wearing our hair in ponytails, and why the fuck should we?

These lists tell us: don’t walk home at night alone! How could you? 

How can we?

We are not just vulnerable puppets, here to live by instructions society has set to simply avoid being attacked. There is more to our lives than this. 

Do not expect us to live in a world that seems to spin on the fear-mongering of women.

I refuse to be a woman afraid of walking home at night. 

Amy Smith

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