In the wake of the murder of Sarah Everard it’s natural that we’re having conversations about the dangers women face. There’s an outpouring of women’s stories of the violence and harassment they experience and the fears they have for their own safety, especially when out alone at night. These stories upset and anger me – no woman should have to put up with this shit. But at the same time I feel uneasy when it’s assumed that these experiences are universal, that this is the way life is for all women, because my own experience is not like this. I have never experienced harassment beyond an occasional wolf-whistle and I love walking alone at night, in both urban and rural places.
I am someone who needs time alone on a regular basis. I need this for my creative work, but also for my happiness and sanity. Like Virgina Woolf, I need a room of my own in which to think, write and compose without disturbance, but I also need outdoor spaces in which to be alone. I need to lose myself in woods, to wander streets while mulling on ideas, to visit meadows, gardens and cemeteries on moonlit nights and say “hello” to the moon above me. My imagination needs the freedom to run wild in outdoor as well as indoor spaces and I won’t sacrifice that for anything.
I’m not writing this to deny or downplay the experiences of other women, but just to call into question the narrative of universality that’s being told – the idea that all women experience regular harassment or worse and live in fear of violence – and to ask, am I the only one who doesn’t? Are there any other women like me out there?