*For those who have been around since the early days, you may recognise this piece as it has previously been featured on our IG. It’s a really important topic and I felt it needed a place amongst the articles on here, so here we are.*
Last night I went for a run. It was great. I love night running, it makes me feel alive and free. It’s challenging and it’s cathartic, you know?
As I was running, I became very aware that every night run I have ever done has always come with a degree of unease and a level of preparation that is akin to getting ready for a zombie apocalypse.
This has become so normal to me that I don’t really see it as anything unusual. However, with a spotlight shining brightly on the safety of women and girls, it made me realise how much I change my behaviour in an effort to feel safe. My family have me on google maps so they can see where I am. I normally brief whoever is at home of my intended route and rough finish time. I am constantly aware of what’s around me as I run, I avoid dark paths and run only under the streetlights.
This has always been taught as common sense. Just an accepted part of life.
‘Look out for yourself.’
‘You are not safe.’
From taking self-defence classes as a young teenager (the teacher of which turned out to be a paedophile btw, talk about irony). To my friends swapping ‘stay safe’ advice like, carrying aerosol deodorant with you. If someone attacks you, you can spray them in the eyes and give yourself an opportunity to run away.
My realisation that I have just accepted this stuff, not always happily, but as a part of my existence is just so… shit. Instead of, “I’m just going for a run” turns into, “oh I’m just going for a run and potentially a fight for my life”. Alright, I know that might sound a bit dramatic, but we are talking about a similar scenario that has literally just happened to Sabina Nessa, Sarah Everard and countless others over the years.
It really is shit.
I believe it is completely possible that we can change our society for the better. We all have an equal right to a sense of safety and freedom no matter what your sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or colour of your skin.
I don’t believe my having a vagina should mean I come with a higher set of risks, a different set of rules or that I should feel cowed by an increased chance of violence.
What an utter load of unfair bullshit. Elements of ourselves should not equate to increased risk of harm.
Until the happy day where I, and my fellows, can go night running completely naked and feel completely safe. I will continue to mentally prepare for a fight every time I walk alone. I will continue to learn ways to defend myself, hopefully from a teacher who isn’t a paedophile. And, I will continue to share with my friends ways to keep ourselves safe.
I will also not give up my spot on the streets, after all, I have just as much of a right to be there as anyone else. Plus I need my cathartic run time and fuck anyone who tries to take that from me.
Part of the reason that this platform exists is for people to feel safe to be who they are. We are trying to move towards a better world with better opportunities and better mental health. We want to help people strive towards living life as fully as they can. In order to work towards this, we have to take on some of the shitty, messy and difficult issues when they come up.
Please feel free to comment below. Especially if there are any changes we need to make when talking about marginalised groups. We welcome feedback and are aware that we may have blind spots.
Keep safe out there, and let’s swashbuckle our way to a safer world.