I don’t know if it’s one of the better or worse things about getting old, but you tend to see cycles come around – whether you like them or not.
Take the recent Bridgeville shooting – it’s not *that* close to me, thank God, but close enough that I have friends on FB and such that know/knew people either there or were in the area. And, sadly, I can’t say that I’m surprised at the revelations coming out about the shooter.
In Canada, it’s summed up in two words. Marc Lepine.
Twenty years ago, this lunatic ran amuck in a Montreal university, gunning down female engineering students because, well… he hated women.
Yep… sure does. And then, as now, warning signs were missed and mistakes made that may have prevented this. The problem, as I see it, is that those measures that may find these mentally ill men before they break loose and wreak havoc also infringe on one’s personal liberties, and no one seems to be keen on cutting those back, in either country.
But I digress.
Back then, as now, the focus shifted to trying to keep women safe – self-defense courses rose; marches were held; vigils with candles were weepy ceremonies with the television cameras right there. And then everyone goes away and life goes on, as it must. Women can’t allow themselves to change their lives because of the possible threat of some lunatic running around.
But… well, you have to.
Having worked over 15 years in public and private security, I learnt a few things along the way. And the first one was to always, ALWAYS be aware of your surroundings. No, you don’t have to carry a taser or a blackjack or a weapon of any sort, but be aware of what’s around you. It always startles me when I see some young’un running blissfully through the park, iPod blaring so loud that I can hear it, and totally unaware of what’s around her. Other than the obvious danger of being run over by a pack of cyclists, you’re also placing yourself at risk because you don’t know what’s nearby. A car? A group of thugs? Just another runner looking for a friend? If you’re plugged in and tuned out, how can you protect yourself?
You don’t have to change your lifestyle; you don’t have to take courses and gear up with pepper spray and buff up to the point that you make Linda Hamilton in T2 look like a fat slob – but, for goodness sake, BE AWARE of what’s going on around you. Don’t leave your drink alone at the table while you go to the washroom unless you’re with friends who will watch it for you. Don’t wander around in dark alleys because it’s a "shortcut" home. Don’t be afraid to ask a male friend to walk you out to your car in the parking lot at night.
Yes, in a perfect world we’d all be like Amazons on Themyscira, safe from attack anywhere and able to handle ourselves in any situation. And there are millions of good, wonderful men out there who wouldn’t raise a hand to a woman, no matter what. But the reality is that we, as women, are often targeted just because we are women.
Be aware. Be safe.