Tag Archives: stalker

Fake Safety

26 Mar

I feel I should warn you, this maaaaay turn into a rant…

I like to hike; I tend to flip between what I think of as “real” hiking and “fake” hiking.

Real hiking is a trail you can’t just stumble on, you need to take gear because you could encounter all manner of random wilderness situations (and by gear I mean like, water, a phone, spare socks, rain shells, stuff like that, not ya know, ropes and carabiners so I can scale the side of a mountain, what am I, a mountain goat? ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

Fake hiking is more trail walking, trails you can get to more easily (I have one accessible from my neighbourhood), you just take music, maybe a water bottle, you don’t need to worry about being out too long in the elements or being stranded in the forest.

The majority of the time I do both of those types of hikes alone.

Of these two I think most people think “real” hiking is the more dangerous. I might come across wildlife, you can die in the wilderness, what if a sudden storm hits, or I fall and break a leg and nobody finds me. I tend to be the idiot who doesn’t always tell someone where and when I am going, and I pack light because I’m going for speed and distance, not a leisurely stroll. And again, I tend to be doing this on my own. What can I say, my days off aren’t most people’s days off and I like doing stuff like this on my own, I can go my own pace, enjoy being alone in nature, but ya know, not touching it cause ew. It’s just a thing I do that I don’t think too much about.

However, I think the argument can be made that my “fake” hiking is way more dangerous, and you wanna know why? Because of humans!

There was a story on the news lately about a woman downtown, in her own neighbourhood, out running errands in broad daylight, who got followed by a guy for 40 minutes. She eventually found a group of strangers at a park and asked if she could stay with them, telling them this guy had been following her. She had been recording him while he followed her, he could tell he was being recorded, but that didn’t scare him off.

It was crazy. It was scary. It was unfortunately, not a new or isolated incident.

I first heard about this when reading an article online, the woman who got followed had a message for women out there that basically boiled down to the things we hear all the time, be careful, don’t go out alone, blah blah blah. Not that I’m trying to be rude to her, just that isn’t a new message, I’ve been hearing it since what, before puberty?

That message pisses me off.

Why, whyyyyy should I modify my day, my errands, my life, my leisure activities, to avoid being stalked like prey? Why, do we as a society, tell women to hold their keys between their knuckles, take self defence classes, don’t walk anywhere alone, completely modify your life, if you want to be safe. But ya know, not actually safe, just a pretend safe that can be taken away from you in a moment when some ass decides to stalk you during the day, in a populated area, just because he can.

So this was bad enough. I was more mad at the message being thrown out there, the message that to stay safe women have to change a bunch of stuff instead of men keeping their jerk friends from doing stupid things, men policing other men when they notice they may be a threat to women, policing systems cracking down on predatory behaviour more swiftly, the judicial system keeping predators like this in jail once they are caught and awaiting trial and then the penal system keeping them behind bars where maybe they can experience what it is like to be hunted.

But then, oh it got worse. A friend who knows I like to hike alone sent me a link to a video where a woman, on a trail I go to often (I mean, not yet this year, but often in other years) got followed by a creeper of a guy. So she did one of the other “tricks” we are taught, where you stop and pretend to retie a shoelace so the creeper passes you by. A bit farther down the trail he was behind her again, there are no trails branching off from that main trail so he had to have gone in to the bush, hidden, waited until she passed, then started following her again. Super awesome and totally normal behaviour right? So she keeps going, getting more scared, understandably. She tries losing him, it doesn’t work. She calls the cops and is telling them what is going on, where, if I remember correctly, she was told don’t take video or pictures of him as it might set him off. She then saw a woman coming the opposite direction from her so she told her what was happening and asked if she could walk with her. The woman said of course, turned around and they went together. They also came across a lone woman starting off her hike that they warned so she joined them. The three of them got back to the parking lot together, waited, and yup you guessed it, creeper came out, went to his vehicle, pretended to drive away, then eventually did drive away.

We don’t know what would have happened if that woman hadn’t found another person on the trail to pair up with. We also don’t know what would have happened if they didn’t warn the third woman they saw who was headed directly towards the creeper. I mean, we can hazard a good guess, but since none of us can see the future (if you can see the future hit me up, I have lotto questions!) we have to what, breathe a sigh of relief nothing bad happened and move on?

How is this ok?

I had actually planned to use that trail tomorrow. I hurt my knee this past week and wanted something without a high elevation and that trail is perfect for it. But now I’m all, huh, maybe I shouldn’t…which is so wrong! I shouldn’t be stopped from having a nice long “fake” hike, on a trail that is thought of as safer because I won’t run into a bear or cougar, because it is now the hunting ground of some guy.

Oh, and again, with this article, the focus was on women changing their behaviour to stay safe, not on society changing it’s behaviour to keep all citizens safe.

I know not all guys are predators. I am not saying all men are evil. I am saying that something has gone very very wrong that the victim in these situations is being judged for doing something we should all be able to do (go out alone), and we are propagating the myth that the only way for women to be safe is for them to modify their behaviour. Do we, as a society, really not know of any other way to keep women safe, so they can hike, grocery shop, walk to meet friends, etc. alone?

I shouldn’t have to be debating with myself on whether I think it is safe to go on my hike tomorrow or not because of this. I shouldn’t be wishing I had a big mean looking dog I could take with me. I shouldn’t be cursing because my knee is not great right now, which means I can’t run, which means I now think of myself as easier prey. I shouldn’t be thinking that a run in with a bear or cougar is a less dangerous situation for me.

I have no answer for this rant of mine, I mean I do, it involves castration and a lot of time behind bars for crimes that have been shown to be precursors to more violent crimes against others…but that isn’t a popular opinion. So instead I guess I will walk with keys in my hand, and change my route to be harder to follow, and be suspicious of every man out there I pass, because that is what I can do to stay safe…but not “real” safe, just “fake” safe, which is apparently the best I can hope for.

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