Is it safe to go there all by yourself, naked?
Yalou loves to swim outside in nature. It provides freedom and calmness. However, there is something bothering and she's discussing it in the blog below.
"By the way, is it safe to go there all by yourself, naked?" I receive the message after I told him about my victory on this cold Monday morning. Wim Hof would be proud of me. "Yeah why not?", my outrage isn´t being perceived on the other end of this invisible connection.
Instead, I receive an explanation about “being a woman by herself”, about how nothing will happen “but keep an eye out”. About how many men “are still stronger, dumber and frustrated.” And “not to scare you! I´m just being realistic”. A small knife in my back pocket (wait, wasn´t I naked?) wouldn't hurt.
I, on the other hand, am hurt by these comments. Yet another man telling me what to do and what not to do. Another man telling a woman to be cautious. Another man who equates being nude with being an object of lust. Once again it becomes clear that men and women are not yet equal in our society. And the frustrating part is, I can't blame him. There are more than 100,000 victims of sexual abuse in the Netherlands each year alone. 1 in 8 women in the Netherlands have fallen victim to rape according to the Sexual Violence Center (Centrum Seksueel Geweld).
But the fact that it still has to be pointed out makes me mad and sad. When will women be sent off with the beautiful words 'have fun' instead of 'are you careful my dear?'
As women, we grow up in a society where alertness is taught at an early age. Victims of sexual abuse get questions and accusations thrown at them rather than the perpetrator being condemned. It wasn't until March this year that sex without consent was criminalized by law and - legally - recognized as rape. A step in the right direction of putting the blame on the perpetrator and not on the victim. Because it doesn't matter what you're wearing, it doesn't matter if you didn't say no, it doesn't matter if you were alone somewhere, naked or not; others have to keep their hands to themselves if you don't wholeheartedly agree.
So these kind of well-intentioned messages annoy the hell out of me. They pull me back into a reality that I no longer want to be a part of. If I had been a man, it wouldn't have mattered. But I'm a woman so it can be dangerous. The cold water drowns out my thoughts and worries. It brings calmness. Today, I was alone in nature and I felt free. Maybe that's why the message got on my nerves; who is he to think I'm not checking whether or not I’m safe? Us women have to. Always. I just don’t want to admit it.
It's time for the perpetrators to change.
by Yalou van der Heijden
About: Yalou is a visual anthropologist, photographer and blogger who focuses on sustainability, awareness and spirituality.