CW: mentions of gender-based violence
As the first of the Autumn sun begins to set, it dawns on me for the first time this year that the end of summer indicates the end of female freedom. I have to say goodbye to my solo winter evening runs and navigate my thought processes that will no longer allow me to be as free as I dream.
For now the night belongs to CIS men. The Sun sets and the streets are no longer safe for me to frolic as I please. Out there, on my own, I am defenseless as the darkness swallows me whole and spits me back out into the dangers that lurk in the emptiness. Maybe there’s nothing there. Maybe my fears are irrational. And I know, ‘it’s not all men.’ But it’s enough men. It’s enough park attacks. It’s enough gender-based violence. It’s enough to know that I am not safe at night.
But I am not scared of the men. I am not scared of the attacks. I am scared that I have to think before I leave the house. That it is better to be safe than sorry. I feel alive when I run in the park at night and not because I am running; because I am so aware of my presence and the realities of my vulnerabilities. The adrenaline pours through me as I search for the light at the end of the tree shrouded path and plod on forward enthralled with the thrill as my evening run is now an adventure sport. And as I aim towards a sprint finish, it is not to complete a personal best; it is because I am running for my life – away from danger towards safety of the bright street lights.
And it is then I realise this is not my time. This is not the space it used to be where I can be alone with my thoughts; take a break from reality; gain some perspective. This is a battle of me against my survival. And I mourn the fact that my time will only be my own again when my friend and protector, the sun, is out to stay for a while and I will no longer be racing against the time it takes for the moon to rear its head.
Image courtesy of Luke Stackpoole