One of my favorite things about being a college student is the ability, to an extent, to pick my own schedule. This gives me the freedom to have classes that fit with my work schedule, as well as the choice to give myself a day off here and there. There has been the rare occasion though, that my schedules don’t align and I end up with something I dread-a night class.
Night classes shouldn’t be scary, right? It’s just school, it’s not any different from a class during the day. But as a female, as someone who has been walking to their car with pepper spray and keys between fingers for five years, they are. And here’s why.
For years, I’ve been taught that the worst time to walk anywhere alone at night. That this is prime time for people to take advantage of me. And it’s not just a myth, there are statistics to back it up. 1 in 4 women experience rape during their academic career (Cleveland Crisis). If you look around a class of 20, that’s 15 of them. Last semester alone there were three accounts of assault on my campus. However, with only 32 out of every 100 rapes reported, the number was likely much higher than that.
While I’ve been taught every possible way to defend myself, I’ve never once heard boys be told that they have anything to fear at night. I am in no way discrediting male survivors of assault, but the data for females is just simply, higher. By a lot. I’ll be honest here, I’m small, and not very strong. If someone really wanted to, they could. And that scares the daylights out of me.
So what do we do?
Quite simply, we start with how we raise our children. Teach boys and girls not to rape, instead of teaching girls how to do everything right in order to minimize risk. That kind of teaches implies it’s the victim’s fault, which leads to them not reporting an assault if it does happen. It’s a snowball effect.
I know at least at my school, the security is pretty relaxed. The one time I actually had to report something (unrelated to this topic), I never actually heard back from them. College security should take assault cases very seriously. As should the police. Many survivors feel as though they are not able to report their attacker because of the way police handle those cases. Questions such as “What were you wearing,” and “Were you drinking,” should be eliminated from the reports. Rather, the focus should be on what the attacker was wearing, and what they looked like.
Night classes scare me, and probably will for a while. Walking alone at night is a big risk to take for a female in our society, and if an assault does happen, many of us don’t feel comfortable telling anyone. But there is room for change. As parents, we can make an effort to change the next generation for the better. An even better place to begin is with ourselves. Let’s make night time feel safe again.