On Saturday, August 11th another woman was raped in my neighborhood. This one occurred at 11:30 in the evening on Fullerton, a very populated street, about a block from the DePaul campus. The Chicago police have released a sketch of the offender. His description matches the rapist in four of the other cases that happened this summer.
This attack has Lakeview residents even more on edge, and rightfully so. I am terrified, this one happened on a street that I walk down regularly! Every attack makes leaving my home seem scarier and scarier. All of the pepper spray in the world does not make it any easier.
Of course with any tragedy there are opportunists waiting to benefit. Today my room mate encountered a group called "The Guardian Angels." They are a group of militant men who escort women around the city to 'protect' them. I cannot find a website for them other than this from Hawaii. Basically they are a group of guerilla misogynists.
As far as Sarah and I could discern, the service is free. Still, I maintain that they are opportunists. They instill fear in women by telling them that they are not safe unless they are escorted by a man. If this is what America is coming to I wonder how different we really are from Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan where women are not allowed to leave their homes without a male relative in tow. Already we are told not to walk alone, not to walk too late, not to dress provocatively, to carry pepper spray. How much more terror must we be subjected to?
I wonder why the solution to sexual assault is always changing the behaviors and attire of women. These changes suggest that we are somehow responsible for our own rape if we fail to comply. Why does the discussion NEVER focus on why MEN rape and how to stop it? Why are women expected to live in terror and to live by a rape schedule that limits their movement? Men do not have to do this. In all of my life I have never heard a man talk about the consequences of wearing an article of clothing or going to a bar alone.
Rape and other sexualized violence against women is terrorism. Rapists are terrorists and need to be regarded as such. Until women can wear whatever the hell we want to wear, until we can walk home alone, until we can leave the pepper spray in our purses, until we do not have to have a 'cell phone' buddy and a rape schedule we will never be empowered as full human beings. This is one of those things that so many men just DO NOT get and the Guardian Angels prove it (I am sure that they are well-intentioned in their own phallocentric way). Living in terror changes a person. What would women be like if we did not live our entire lives in terror?