Leave Us The Fuck Alone
A mere four days after I set off on an adventure to the other side of the world alone, a woman was killed in her own town. In my town, actually, metres from her home, a few hundred from mine.
Before my trip, people kept telling me that I was brave for embarking on a solo journey into the unknown as a young woman. The reality is, I am not brave: I just want to see the world. I was also told me to be careful, not to travel to new places at night, arrive when it’s daylight, keep my wits about me when I’m out drinking, not let strangers buy me drinks and not wander the streets alone at night.
As a result, I spent the weeks leading up to my departure anxious feeling anxious about the things I had been told and all that I should be wary of. Instead of being excited to experience new things and meet new people, I was scared.
Two weeks in, the fear hasn’t left. When I heard what had happened to Eurydice Dixon, only a year older than me, I felt sick to my stomach. Only weeks earlier, I had been home, in a city where I felt safe, walking back to mine from the tram at night by myself with my headphones in, thinking that something like that would never happen to me. But to Eurydice Dixon, it did.
I am 21 years old and exploring countries and cities on the other side of the world renowned for their partying and crazy nightlife, yet because I am alone and I am a woman, I have spent most nights back in my hostel before dark. I haven’t been drunk or taken drugs. I am wary of most men, hesitant to chat, especially where there is a language barrier.
In Amsterdam, against my better judgement, I went on a date to a secluded spot by the wharf with a handsome stranger who smiled at me on the ferry. As soon as I got there, I immediately thought of everything that could go wrong and, as result, I didn’t enjoy myself.
The thing about travelling alone is that you are forced to make friends with strangers, but that is pretty limiting when you’re taught to be scared of half the population. It makes me angry, because I don’t want to spend four plus months of solo travel missing out on experiences, drunken adventures, opportunities to kiss strangers or seeing cities lit up at night in order to feel safe.
The sad reality is though, while for me it’s just four months of my life of being alone and permanently feeling like I need to be on guard, for other women – such as those in our offshore detention centres – that feeling can last their whole lives. For Eurydice Dixon, it was just one night of being alone that very prematurely ended her life.
When are women going to be able to feel safe all the time? When are we going to stop feeling scared of walking home alone? Of travelling alone? Of catching the tram at night alone? We are capable and strong and brave, but we shouldn’t need to be capable, strong and brave just to exist. Why must we continually be on the lookout for alarm bells, walking home with our keys in our knuckles and making sure someone knows where we are at all times?
I sit here wondering what can possibly be articulated that hasn’t been before. As a woman who was subject to the anger and violence of a man I trusted at a young age, I am already scared. I am already wary. I am already angry. It already gets in the way of relationships and has altered the way I respond to certain situations.
Men, call your mates out. Watch the way you treat the women in your life on a daily basis. Let us enjoy this crazy big wide world without feeling scared, without needing to always be on guard. Basically, just don’t be overpowering, aggressive fucks; mind your own business and let us mind ours. It can’t go on anymore. Do it for your mum, wife, girlfriend, sister, aunt, niece, cousin, future daughter, friend. Do it for all women, all over the world. Please make the change; it starts with you.
Cover by Jayakumar Ananthan