The other night, at around 11 o’clock, I stood outside a karaoke bar and debated whether or not it was safe to make the block-long walk from the bar to the park. Even though I only lived five blocks away, I knew that walking on my own all the way home would have been too risky, but one block to the taxi stand? Surely it would be okay to walk along a well-lit street to the park and then have one of the taxis chauffeur me the rest of the way?
I took a poll of the smokers standing outside. “Do you think it’s safe to walk to the park to get a cab?” I asked.
“No way. Uh-uh. Don’t do it,” was the general consensus. Sighing, I went back inside and feeling embarrassed, asked one of my male roommates if he’d mind walking me home. I had to wake up at 5:30 the next morning and needed to get home and get some rest.
He was gracious about it and kept insisting that he didn’t mind but I still felt bad about having to ask him. One of the qualities I pride myself most on is my independence. I embrace the whole, ‘woman, man, fish, bicycle’ motto and have always done whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted and never needed any male protection before.
Until now, anyway. Here was an example where being strong and independent wasn’t enough. Hollering “I am woman, here me roar!” certainly wouldn’t have scared away the rapists or robbers. But a six-foot-four male Englishman? Apparently that did the trick.
“I feel like you’re my babysitter,” I whined on our walk back.
My Spanish tutor is also a Tae-Kwon-Do master and in between verb conjugations and discussions about Guatemalan politics, he’s taught me a few of his moves. I now know, for example, how to break someones arm. What good this will do me if I’m ever attacked, is probably next to nil because I only know how to do it if the mugger attacks me from the front.
But it’s a start.