I am a woman.
This is why I carefully consider where I leave my car in the parking lot. Driver's door next to a cart return is ideal. If that's not an option, I park where I'm least likely to have someone park next to me.
This is why I check my back seat before I get into my car. Even if it's parked in my driveway.
This is why I'm scared to run by myself in the early mornings before the sun comes up, even though it's often the only time my schedule allows.
This is why I run in the road if I am passing a home with a privacy fence or lots of bushes along the sidewalk. And why I run on the boulevard and hold my breath (figuratively, of course) whenever a car drives by.
Why I wear or carry two different GPS tracking devices when I run, and why my husband knows how to use them to find me.
Why I'm tempted to leave him with a picture of what I'm wearing every time I leave for a run, including a close up of the tread of my shoes. Just in case.
Why I won't go into the gym if there is only one other car in the parking lot.
Why I started teaching my children, both my son and my daughter, about consent when they were one and three years old.
Why, when I walk or run past the high stone retaining wall, I wonder at its legitimacy. Is there actually just dirt behind it? Or something else? Maybe I'll cross the street when I go past that house.
This is not paranoia. These are the thoughts of a woman living a time when rape culture runs rampant.
When sexual assault earns a slap on the wrist. Or sometimes a high five.
When young girls are taught that if a boy harasses them, it means they like them.
When young boys hear that it is okay, even normal, to show affection through physical, sexual, or emotional abuse.
When a catcall from a passing car has become so normal that it earns an eye roll at most.
I am a woman. And I have had enough.