[Trigger warning for discussion of sexual violence.]
I had a Thanksgiving dinner with a some of my relatives last night. One of the topics of conversation that my mother and grandmother found it necessary to discuss is how I have a class that gets out after dark this term. *EEP GASP* Well, doncha know, when your class gets out after dark and you have to walk two whole blocks in the darky darkness to get to your car, well… you know what can happen.
I pointed out that it’s one day a week that I have this class (response: “Well, once a week is enough”… whatever the hell that means). I gave a visual of how many blocks I have to walk from the bus stop by using my fingers to draw out a little map on the table. I clarified this invisible map again. I repeated how it’s just one class and there’s still plenty of folks out and about or inside their homes at 6:30 pm.
This also wasn’t the first time my class schedule and darkness had been brought up recently. About a week ago when my mother found out that I walk! two blocks! in the dark! once a week, she and her boyfriend immediately turned to talk of weaponry. Do I carry that pepper spray my mom got me for Christmas a few years ago? A suggestion that I purchase a knife. (I’ll be sure to add this knife to my Christmas list this year.)
A few things piss me off about these conversations. It seems they think if they don’t tell me about Vague Bad Things That Happen In the Dark To College Girls that that very Bad Thing will happen to me (and that if I know about it, I can somehow prevent it). Also, there’s this notion that I don’t already freak the fuck out walking around at night by myself. That second conversation happened about half an hour after I almost cried walking to my car because I was so scared after seeing someone standing out in the middle of a park that I had to go by. Also, last year I didn’t sign up for a class because it got out in the evening. Finally, this thing I’m supposed to be afraid of is never actually articulated directly, yet they both are trying to spook me with it.
When this particular dinner conversation still wasn’t over after goodness knows how many minutes, I finally took the opportunity to break through the opaque language and fear-mongering.
“Well, 70 percent of sexual assaults are by someone the victim knows… so…” *sassy head tilt*
Never have I seen a topic so quickly changed. On a dime, I tell you. I looked over at my partner who was doing the restrained version of this and smiling a little. Meanwhile I was trying not to burst out in laughter because BAM, I just did that.
Next topic? A man who got shot nearby that bus stop I get off at. My family needs to stop watching the local news.