Why I Shop Alone at 2 a.m.

Before I’m burnt at the stake for writing this post, let me first state that I do know how dangerous it can be for women to be alone in public. In fact, I am closely connected to a story of a girl who was attacked and murdered when she was alone in a park on December 31, 2013. Her name was Lauren Bump and while I never met her, she has greatly influenced my life through the ways that she influenced my best friends’ lives as their small group leader. I think of her often, either from my own thoughts, or because of the things posted on Facebook by her family and best friend. As someone regularly reminded of how real public attacks of women can be, I know all too well how dangerous it can be for a woman to be alone. Therefore, I do not take the subject of public safety lightly.  That being said, I feel it’s important to say what I’m going to try to say with this post.

 

When I was growing up, my brother and I each liked to go for walks around the park and woods in our neighborhood. When my brother went alone, he just left and that was that. When I went alone, I was told to be careful and not to stay by myself for too long. Once, I joked on Facebook about how it was a terrible idea for a paranoid girl like myself to be sitting in the woods alone while reading a book about a stalker. My mom and many of my other Facebook friends didn’t take lightly to this joke. Many of them told me I shouldn’t be sitting in the woods alone at all. Never mind the fact that my brother spent hours on end sitting alone in the woods, but if I sat alone for even half an hour, I was in mortal danger. Now, I get the same reaction when I mention I’ve gone to or am going to go to Walmart after work at 2am. I’m not saying women shouldn’t be warned to be careful. I’m not saying we aren’t especially more susceptible to sexual attacks and kidnappings than men are, because statistically we are. What I am saying is that maybe if we weren’t always so paranoid, then we’d be at least a little less vulnerable. These men are like the lions, tigers, and bears of the human world; they most often prey on the weak. They’re like vampires; they can smell our fear and it fills them with excitement, drawing them to us.

We live in a world where feminism is quickly rising with power. While I personally do not associate myself with these women who call themselves “feminists,” I do believe in real equality. Maybe this real equality should start with women not being afraid of sick and perverted men who may or may not try to attack us when we’re alone. I don’t go to Walmart at 2am to make a point. I go at 2am because going before work takes twice as long because of traffic, because I don’t particularly like people, because I have to get cold things a lot and that means I’d have to drive back home to put it away only to leave again for work, and mostly because I’m scatterbrained so when I go grocery shopping after church on Sunday’s, I almost always forget things forcing me to go again at a later time. Sure, I could go before work, because it’s not always cold things that I forget, but why should I inconvenience myself to go before work, just because it might be dangerous for me to shop alone at night? That’s a myth by the way.

Per extensive research of many different articles I found that 49% of attacks on women happen during broad daylight. Therefore, whether I go shopping at noon or midnight, I’m potentially just as susceptible to be attacked either way. If that is true, then why should I inconvenience myself just because I’m potentially 2% (an incredibly small margin) more likely to be attacked at night than during the day? I’ll tell you one thing, I personally have watched a LOT of shows involving crime and attacks on women. Stereotypically, those crimes most often happen at night to girls who look a lot like me—twenty-something year old girls with light skin, light brown hair, and blue eyes. As someone who is not only naturally paranoid about the littlest of sounds, but who also naturally remembers nearly everything I see one TV, I rarely forget the stories of these TV shows. Therefore, when I am out and about by myself, especially at 2am, I am always on a high alert. When I’m alone during the day, I don’t really think about the dangers that could be lurking around me. Should I not allow myself to be alone more often when I am more aware of my surroundings than when I am not aware? Is it not safer and wiser for me to go shopping by myself during the times in which I know I will be alert than when I probably won’t be? If you are more alert of your surroundings during the day than at night, then by all means do your shopping during the day. If you feel safer when you can see everything around you, then shop during daylight hours. Even though I do sometimes feel the hair on the back of my neck stand up when I’m walking through a parking lot by myself at night, I feel safer shopping at night, because I am more aware of every single noise and shadow around me.

I’m not trying to say that I’m never going to be attacked. I’m not God, so I can’t know that. I’m also not saying that I don’t appreciate the concern of my friends and family who tell me that I should be careful when I’m shopping alone by myself at 2am. What I am saying is that I’m not afraid. I am alert and aware, but I am not afraid. I always have at least one pocket knife in my pocket or purse, I carry a wooden pole in my car to beat someone with if I ever need to, and I have full faith in God that He will keep me safe. Oh, and I have six brothers, three of whom were old enough that we wrestled together and whom I could hold my own with when we wrestled and fought growing up. I’m just saying that I won’t fear shopping alone at 2am, just because the world wants me to think it’s exceptionally more dangerous for me to shop alone at night than it is for me to shop alone during the day. It’s not. To reiterate, many different articles I found stated there’s about a 50/50 chance I’ll be attacked during the day vs. at night.

By the way, I also found a bunch of articles that broke down attacks based on gender. Predators look for one of two things, vulnerability or a challenge. Depending on what the predator is looking for, attacks on men and women are also almost as equal as a woman being attacked during the day vs at night. In cases of robbery and murder, men are more likely to be attacked, whereas in cases of sexual assault and kidnapping, women are more likely to be attacked. If it’s true that men are as likely to be attacked as women, then why should I be told to be careful, while men aren’t warned to be careful too? If it’s true that I am as likely to be attacked at as I am during the day, then why should I be afraid to shop at night? If it is more likely that a predator will go after a woman if he’s looking for vulnerability, then why should I be afraid at all? I know that most warnings are given because the warner wants the warned to be cautious, but that’s not how it comes across. The constant warning of women to be careful comes across more to tell me that I should be afraid of being alone at night than that I should be cautious. I’m not afraid of predators or of being alone at night. I have no need to be. It’s when I become afraid that I will be more likely to be attacked. Therefore, while I will be cautious and alert, I will not be afraid. I am afraid of spiders though. Those devils are terrifying!

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