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Fickle [userpic]

For ultra-cheap drabbles and coloring, check me out here. Still dedicated to Haiti, of course.

Fickle [userpic]

Okay, so, I know I said I wouldn't do this but:

Go here if you want to commission my coloring skills (seriously cheap, guys), or here if you want to bid on my writing skills.

I'll write/draw pretty much anything, and anything you offer goes straight to charities dedicated to helping Haiti.

Fickle [userpic]
Take Back The Night (this is MY night)

When I was younger, I used to be scared of the dark.

By younger, I don't mean five or six. I mean thirteen, fifteen -- that sort of younger. I used to be scared of the dark because I have an overactive imagination. What I can't see, I populate with horrors. Zombies, vampires, haunts and ghouls lurked in every corner, ready to snatch up me if I let my guard down.

Then I grew older and a new danger was added: Rapists.

Take Back The Night, the classic edition, usually has a parade/rally at the end, where people march in a long column, carrying candles. The idea is that there's safety in numbers and so the girls carrying the candles can march into the night with no fear, reclaiming it as a space for them and refusing to believe that the night is only safe to walk in if you're a white, cisgendered, heterosexual male.

Today, I did a Take Back The Night march of my own. I didn't mean it to be one when I started out. I just wanted to get some exercise, so I walked 7km to my cousin's house, chatted with her for a little, then refused her offer to give me a lift so that I could get more exercise by walking back. As I walked back, it started to get dark. I'd left my house at 7:47PM. Now it was past 9PM, and I was walking down the same street where my father had been followed by three men and had racist insults thrown at him.

I was walking alone, in the dark, in the same country where my teenage, female cousins were followed home by racist idiots who threw rocks at them while yelling insults. The same country where I'd seen a small East Asian girl get trapped in a corner of the bus by some Austrian man, while right next to him, a soldier in full uniform sat and did nothing. The same country where on the way to my cousin's house, just an hour ago, I had a man yell something at me from the window of a moving van.

I was alone, it was dark, and it was definitely hostile territory.

I had my cellphone on me. I could've called my mother and asked for a lift home. Considering the terrain, my parents would've been glad to oblige. I could've waited at a bus station, taken the bus, and my parents would've been none the wiser. Both of those would've been safe moves to make. Smart moves to make.

Instead, I turned my MP3 player onto repeat 1, kept 'Defying Gravity' from the Wicked soundtrack playing, and walked home defiantly. My parents first moved to Austria when I was 5. I went to a German kindergarten. I speak German. I buy groceries here. My parents pay rent for the house we live in. We contribute to the Austrian economy.

I have just as much right to walk the streets as any Austrian does. I have just as much right to walk the streets unmolested for the color of my skin, my eyes, my hair, the accent in my words or the rainbow band on my wrist. The streets were not built for the exclusive use by men. The concrete has no impressions in it that say 'both genders by day, men only by night'. Why should I have to only walk outside safely alone during daylight hours? The night is mine, and the streets are mine as much as they are yours.

I have the right to walk the streets at night if I chose and tonight, I chose to exercise that right. I flinched when people went by me on bikes, and my hands curled into fists with no conscious instruction from my mind. When I saw a man walking in front of me and realized I was catching up to him, I chose to keep walking instead of crossing to the other side of the street, even though I could tell by the way his steps slanted that he was drunk. I overtook him and walked on, expecting any moment to feel him throw his cigarette against my back.

He didn't. I kept walking.

And now, I am safely home, tired but exulted by the knowledge that for an hour and a half, the streets of Austria were mine by moonlight, in the night, in the darkness. This is the part of my post where I'd normally be encouraging you to follow my lead. I won't -- not for this. I did something reckless, acting out of a sense of how I wanted the world to be instead of how it is. I can't tell you to do this, to walk out into the night and assert your right to do so with no more fear than a member of the ruling class, because it could get you hurt. It could get you beaten up, insulted, raped, spat at, or killed, depending on where you live and how poorly you fit their idea of power looks like.

If I thought it would change anything to tell you to do what I did, to walk freely in the night time, I'd tell you to do it. But women aren't going to take to the streets en masse to make the point that the streets belong to them as well, and telling you, alone, to go out and reclaim the night would be telling you to be a target. I won't do that.

But I will say that if you do? You will feel powerful. You will have taken for yourself the hours that society insists are reserved for those with power; you will have taken their power and proven that their power is your power, and there is no reason why you should not have that power too.

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