Dusk had turned to dark but I still had 7 miles to ride before I was home. The bike path I was on took it's usual detour down, away from the road, into a stretch of isolated desert. I've ridden this route so many times, but this is the first time in the dark. There's two figures riding BMX bikes towards me. They are not kids. Men, tall, deep chests and thick arms. As we approach each other they see that I am a woman and begin to whoop, yell and cat call. My mind is flashing through the facts: I'm on a faster bike and have a head start, could they catch me? How far till the path comes back to the road? If worst comes to worst then what?
We pass each other in a second and they continue on their way. I ride home.
Caroline recently wrote two excellent posts on the economic vulnerability of women who are mothers and those posts really resonated with me. What has also been on my mind is physical vulnerability. I can rage and get all pissed over cultural and societal flaws that put women at a disadvantage. I must also admit I sometimes feel miffed at the biological evolution that made women smaller.
So, I collect heroes among female athletes, Mia Hamm, Paula Radcliffe, Dara Torres, Cynthia Cooper, Lynn Hill, etc. I collect them in fiction: Buffy, Black Mamba (aka The Bride), Xena, etc. I love this blogger who talks about women, risk assessment and being able to say "fuck off" with feeling. I look inside myself and cringe at how much I've internalized society's message that women should be accommodating, and I admit my own conflicted feelings about raising girls in our culture.
Meanwhile, that ride in the dark occasionally crosses my mind. What if worst had come to worst? I've started taking a bus that carries me in light and company across those isolated stretches till the days grow longer again. Also, I'm going to buy a can a mace.
I wish I could wrap up these thoughts with a nice neat "and that will solve everything".... but ya. Whatever. So instead, I will wrap up these thoughts, hit the publish button, then do a round with my speedbag. Because that always makes me feel a little tougher.