A little background: I was a victim of sexual abuse in my early childhood. I grew up being somewhat overly concerned about my safety around men. Ones that I knew and ones that I didn't. Because I learned that even someone who is suppose to love you can hurt you. Rightfully so, I was apprehensive walking to my car in the dark, being alone with someone who could easily overpower me, or having an attacker waiting in my backseat. But, even if I had not experienced it for myself, I would still have been told to BEWARE OF STRANGE MEN. I keep my keys handy, I look around and make sure I am aware of my surroundings. I think about what I have in my hands that could be a weapon, or look for an easy escape route if I feel unsafe. I've been taught to not get too comfortable in the world when I am all alone.
I've attended meetings about self defense for women. I've heard police officers speak about safety and how to avoid being a target for an attacker. Heck, my own husband tells me to watch out and be aware of my surroundings every time I head out the door to Kroger.
All the (albeit ridiculous) discussion of men pretending to be women to take advantage of the new bathroom laws and rape women in the bathrooms has got me thinking. I know a TON of great men who would never ever hurt anyone like that. In fact, it's safe to say there are exponentially more men on the planet who would never attack/rape/kidnap/roofie a woman than those who would. So, I asked my husband:
"Does it offend you in any way that all men are looked at like potential threats to women?" I clarified with an anecdote. "Does it bother you that if you were walking behind a woman in the Kroger parking lot that she has probably been told to consider you a threat to her safety and be suspicious of you?" And, he said no. He said he would, in fact, go out of his way to be non-threatening. Make noise, jingle his keys, so that she knows he is there and isn't trying to be sneaky. And I just kind of looked at him. It had not occurred to me before that a kind, normal dude like him would have to worry about scaring a woman in a parking lot. Simply because he is a man.
As a mom of boys, it saddens me to think that they will grow up being treated as a potential threat to the safety of women around them, simply because they're male. It's our job to make sure to raise men who would always be kind and loving and never hurt anyone. Male or female.
I am not trying to start a gender discussion so much as take a hard look at the impact a fallen world has on our day to day actions and reactions to something as simple as my husband walking in a a parking lot or my son taking a girl on a date (in like 25 years when I allow that). It hurts my heart that as women we have to constantly be on our guard for attackers, and that the men we love have to constantly be on their guard to not look like an attacker.
Trust me, sexual assault is more real than anyone would like to imagine. Rainn.org states that every 107 seconds another American is assaulted. And that's ONE country in our world. That works out to be about 293,000 victims of sexual assault every year. Those are just the ones that are reported!!!! Also, that's not just women. Men are victims of sexual assault and even LESS likely to report it. In fact, 68% of assaults go unreported to the police.
It's not a gender issue. It's a heart issue. There are horrible, evil people in the world. We all have to be on guard. I hate that innocence is stolen, women walk around scared, and good, normal, men walk around hoping no one thinks they're a rapist while they're getting milk at the grocery store or pumping gas late at night. So, yes, I am concerned for my gender's safety. Also, what about our boys?