“When I was in college, a teacher once said that all women live by a ‘rape schedule.’ I was baffled by the term, but as she went on to explain, I got really freaked out. Because I realized that I knew exactly what she was talking about. And you do too. Because of their constant fear of rape (conscious or not), women do things throughout the day to protect themselves. Whether it’s carrying our keys in our hands as we walk home, locking our car doors as soon as we get in, or not walking down certain streets, we take precautions. While taking precautions is certainly not a bad idea, the fact that certain things women do are so ingrained into our daily routines is truly disturbing. It’s essentially like living in a prison – all the time. We can’t assume that we’re safe anywhere: not on the streets, not in our homes. And we’re so used to feeling unsafe that we don’t even see that there’s something seriously fucked up about it.” — Jessica Valenti
After reading this excerpt from one of the many amazing piece written by Jessica Valenti, I too looked back at my life and realized that all of this is true. And as I have spent a better part of my life – esp teenage years – in Pakistan, the problem faced by me and women like me is even more complex. As a middle class Pakistani woman, I was raised to look at every man as potential rapist hence things as simple as rolling down the car window and asking for directions have been pondered upon relentlessly, often times not asking men for directions because we thought someone will jump at us.
That was me as a teenager, I overcame that fear as an adult but continued to develop other safeguards. I once drove with a bust tyre instead of changing it like a normal person because it was dark and there was not much traffic on the road. After a particularly scary incident in Islamabad, I even bought myself a taser because I thought I may actually need to use it.
At times I wonder if women in any part of the world are free of this ‘rape schedule’. Do they even realize that this is what they are living with and that they need to break free and that one of the most important ways to fight back is to raise sons who are conscientious and treat women like fellow human beings, and not potential playmates. Are there any mothers among us who do not judge other women in front of their sons explicitly because they want them to grow into decent adults?