What happens after 8pm? Do monsters with big claws come out of the closet and vampires with sharp teeth out of their hideaway? What are we all so afraid of when the sun goes down and the streetlights turn on? Is it the shadow following us, or the ominous sound coming from the dark passage?
Fortunately, we do not live in a world filled with monsters and blood sucking vampires. Which brings me to the point of what exactly are we afraid of. We are afraid of ourselves -- us humans. But why is that? Why are we scared of that man that follows us around whistling tunes of romantic songs? Why do we get so scared when two men on a bike slow down to get a better view of us?
Being a human, I am scared of many simple things like cockroaches or the giant spider sitting on the bathroom wall. But as a woman, I am afraid of other things. I am scared of walking alone in a dark alley, coming home by myself at night, and sometimes when I see a group of men staring at me.
Growing up I was unaware of the fact that I had to have this fear built inside me before stepping out of the house after dark. Most of us, us women, are taught to look at every man as a threat.
So, when we go out for work or pleasure after 8pm, we have to have our guard up and keep an eye open for prospective monsters disguised as men. I have to protect my phone, my laptop, and my body. After dark, my body is looked upon as raw meat by a hungry pack of hyenas. The continuous calls from my loved ones after dark are a constant reminder of the terrifying things that can happen to a woman.
To some, all this might sound far-fetched or made up. But trust me when I say this: None of this is made up. I am scared; we are all scared of the ugly and horrible things that can happen to any woman at any time of the day.
Now let’s look at this from another angle. Do you think a man will be scared of the same things as a woman when he goes out to meet his friends after work? Why is his phone the only valuable thing that he has to protect? How can he roam around in dark streets and not feel an inch of fear of the horrible things that can happen to his body? How come he does not need a male friend accompanying him to his house?
The answer is simple: They do not feel threatened, nor, should I say, is there anyone to threaten them. His mother never gave him the lecture on how men can take advantage of someone walking by themselves after 10pm. That way, most boys grow up having a wonderful childhood with no fear of monsters trying to attack them. That is why a man can just walk out of his house, wearing his shorts in the middle of the night without anyone’s objection.
A man feels no fear of rape while a woman is constantly living in that fear all her life. But this is not about rape, this is about freedom -- my freedom and yours. If a man can walk around the streets with his legs bare after dark, so should a woman be able to. If a man can get out and have a cup of tea in the streets, so should a woman is she pleases. If a man has the freedom to live his life, so must a woman.
No one is asking men to not go out after dark just because most women cannot. We are asking men to make it a safer place so a woman can also enjoy her freedom without living in a cloud of fear. The sun comes up and the sun goes down, but we should not have to hide ourselves inside our homes or cover ourselves with extra shawls when it is dark outside.
Over the years I learned that freedom does not come for free and neither will people hand it to you, it has to be earned. So, every time I get out of my house with the light of lamp posts guiding me, I am earning my freedom. Instead of giving in to the fear that has been embedded in us since we were young, we need to put on our heels and lipstick and fight the fear instead.