Walking alone as a girl

“Hey! She has a nice butt! How old is she?”

I was walking to i-Tea with three other girls when a grown man yelled that at us as we crossed the street. He even started to follow us until one of us turned around and saw him doing so. We disgustingly came to the conclusion that he was talking about me as the others were wearing longer and looser outfits.

I was in eighth grade, 13 years old. 

There’s nothing as terrifying as being a girl and walking down the street alone or even with the company of other girls. 

After hearing the recent news of Sarah Everard being kidnapped and murdered while walking home, I was in horror but also terror-stricken as I remembered that could be something that happens to me. As anti-Asian hate crimes have risen by 145 percent, I have never been more fearful and paranoid when I walk by myself, including a simple five-minute journey to my dance studio in the neighborhood I grew up in. 

It’s not just paranoia but true, genuine fear. 

When I walk home I have to think about how I’m going to defend myself. I have my keys gripped between my knuckles, my Hydro Flask ready to swing, and my phone ready in case I need to call someone. I constantly look over my shoulders, I’m self conscious of my outfit, and at most, I can only wear one earbud on low volume. I’m looking at self-defense kits specifically made for girls to keep myself safe when I go to college. If someone is ever walking behind me, I already get nervous whether it’s been 30 seconds or two minutes. 

There have been too many incidents where women are kidnapped, harassed, assaulted, murdered, and raped when they walk alone. We have expressed our fear and trepidation. We have statistics and evidence. We watch videos and have weapons to defend ourselves. We create and share tips and tricks. And yet, despite all this effort we have put into getting our voices heard and understood, we are still being talked over, pushed aside, and silenced.

We are still being told it was “our fault,” or “she was asking for it,” and “well she shouldn’t have gotten drunk.” Why is that it’s always the women’s fault? Why are we continuing to victim blame when in any other circumstance, it would be the perpetrators’ fault? What more do we have to scream at the top of our lungs for there to be change in how the world reacts? How many more women does it take for the world to take action? You’ve already harassed, assaulted, and/or raped most of us: that’s all of us too many.

This isn’t something girls can control, and it is out of our hands. This is a men’s issue; men are the people harassing us, men are the people staying quiet, and men are the people gaslighting and dismissing our experiences. No, it is not all men, but it is almost all women. So, boys I need you to speak up for your female friends. I need you to call out all of your friends for their actions and words. I need you to hold yourselves to a higher standard.

7 thoughts on “Walking alone as a girl

  • May 19, 2021 at 6:18 pm

    This is a great article that spreads more awareness to this issue and it’s so sad that most women and young girls experience these kinds of things.

  • May 18, 2021 at 1:18 pm

    I too have experienced things like this. I used to walk home from school past one of the middle schools and I had to stop going that way because Id get rude and just generally uncomfortable things said to me at least once a week. People shouldn’t have to go through that for just existing.

  • May 17, 2021 at 1:00 pm

    I also walk alone after school and I’m always cautious of my surroundings. I agree that so many girls are afraid of walking outside alone and that they always have to be aware, but it is not fair because it isn’t something we can control or do about. I believe that our community should have a safe environment for all gender, so we can go outside without trembling in fear.

  • May 17, 2021 at 9:26 am

    I have experienced similar things in Castro Valley and in life in general. In all of these instances I was not doing ANYTHING that could remotely be used as “justification” for what happened (not that there is any justification, no one asks to be harassed and no one should be harassed). People who try to justify this behavior are not only insensitive, they are just plain wrong.

  • May 16, 2021 at 8:15 pm

    This article is well-worded, educational and I personally understood/experienced things that Alex wrote about. The sentence that stood out to me is “no, its not all men, but it is almost all women”. This sentence is sometimes overlooked, but if you take time and deeply think about it, it is a powerful sentence. Sadly, almost everyone I surround myself with from friends to random people have most likely experienced something written in this article. Scared to walk alone or with friends, protecting themselves with tasers, pepper spray and more, getting sexually or verbally harassed; this is a women’s reality.

  • May 16, 2021 at 8:06 pm

    I got followed through the supermarket by a boy about my age last year. I did not know him. He followed me wherever I went in the store, occasionally whispering things like “hey, baby” in my ear. He only let up when I went to check out. I’ve never been one for activism, but I think it is extremely important to teach growing children to do better. To treat others, including women, with respect. I, too, am paranoid when I walk alone, but I’ve never found that to be specific to my gender. People need to be careful when walking alone, period. There is most definitely a dissimilarity when it comes to women, though.

  • May 3, 2021 at 2:05 pm

    I think that it is VERY intelligent of you to bring items that you can defend yourself with. If you witness someone being attacked – REGARDLESS of their race, gender, age, culture, religion, anything else that might have to do with their identity – CALL THE POLICE on the attacker and the attacker will most likely get arrested like how they should be, and then the attacker will go to jail. It is NEVER the victim’s fault, it is ALWAYS the perpetrator’s fault – the perpetrator CHOSE to assault, kidnap, and kill people, so that is OBVIOUSLY their fault as they should NEVER have chosen to assault anyone, and what the perpetrator is doing is ILLEGAL!!!

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