is totally normal!!!
The other day I was having lunch with a few ladies from work and we started chatting about a very common condition amongst women: ‘being afraid of strangers (men) approaching when you’re walking alone’, or in short, BASAWYWA (just made it up, love it).
OK so let me explain the concept a bit, because some people (let’s face it, men) probably never had/don’t have BASAWYWA. I believe this is mostly a double X thing. To explain BASAWYWA let’s take the following scenario:
- It’s 9pm and it’s dark outside (it’s winter).
- You get to your tube (subway) station and start heading home.
- Suddenly you hear footsteps behind you. You
- a) know is just a fellow commuter on his way home – you don’t have BASAWYWA.
- b) assume it’s a creep who is going to grab you on the first chance and drag you to the next alley, so you start frenetically looking for something sharp or a spray in your bag, at the same time you speed up the pace, start sweating and wondering whether you should start running – you are a BASAWYWA sufferer.
- c) hear the steps getting closer, are about to freak out (as portrait in b)), but the person overtakes you and without even noticing you heads their own way and you sigh with relief although your heart is still racing– you are a BASAWYWA sufferer.
Oh trust me I am not making BASAWYWA up. It is a real thing. We had quite a giggle sharing stories of different freak-out moments: I once hit someone with my school books (heavy) out of pure fear and all he wanted was to ask me the time (ouch)! But I confess: I have a very severe case of BASAWYWA.
And I’m not alone; one of my favourite stories was when one of the gals in the group found herself in the park at night (Hyde Park) heading to Green Park tube station, she heard steps behind her, ‘like really close’ and she did the ‘head tilt’. (You girls out there know the move right? When you want to take a sneak-peek at who’s behind you but don’t want the person to notice it but of course they do? Yeah it takes skills). Anyway, she looked over her shoulder and it was a guy, ‘uh-oh!’ – she thought – ‘what do I do, what do I do?’. As she was considering breaking into a run the guy said: ‘excuse me!’ – at this point of the story all the girls went like ‘ohhhh terrifying’ – ‘excuse me, I just wanted to say I am not trying to creep you out but I realise I am walking really close to you, would you like me to skip ahead so it doesn’t freak you?’ Haha! We were all crying with laughter. In the end he was a nice guy and they walked together to the tube station.
‘However’ – I said – ‘it could as easily be a trick to ‘snap’ you!’ Jeez! How dark is my brain? Honestly! I knew I should have never watched ‘Taken’. To be fair though, saying ‘I’m not a creep’ is probably one of the worst things. I would probably be running before the guy hit ‘eep…’
Anyways we continued sharing stories and tips on what to do: run, grab someone and pretend they’re a relative, ring on someone’s door and pretend that was where you’re heading, grab a sharp object just in case (keys are good), have a deodorant or perfume spray at hand… “I once told my dad I thought someone was behind me and he said ‘if that ever happens again, just run! And I was like, daddy, what if it was one of the neighbours? ‘Just run’” – one of the girls said.
Although we had quite a good laugh at lunch that day I couldn’t stop but thinking how awful it is that no matter where you live in the world or how much CCTV your city has, if you’re a woman these are things you think about. And worst, if you don’t, your friends will probably think ‘are you crazy? You need to be prepared!’
Come to think about it, it’s quite sad. That we’re still not at a point where women can feel 100% safe, not even in the wealthiest of countries. I mean we’ve come a long way and are much luckier than other women in other corners of the world, but still… And as much as the men in our lives love us, they won’t ever really know that fear. Because no one’s really ‘afraid’ to get their wallet or phone stolen; I mean it’s annoying but not the end of the world… Women though, women have far much more to lose, or at least they are aware that far worst things can happen, if the creep behind them turns out to be… well, a real creep.
I wonder if there will be a day when I won’t have to tell my daughters they have to run, ring people’s doors, and hold their keys as if it were a weapon… I wonder if one day I won’t immediately assume the footsteps behind me are there to rape me. If I’ll be able to walk home at night from the subway station without having my heart racing out of my chest only because there’s a guy walking close to me… I wonder.
And for the guys out there reading this and thinking ‘that’s ridiculous, I’m not a creep!’ – We’re not saying you are, this is not an attack on you, you are probably a nice guy. Unfortunately, if it’s late at night and you’re walking behind us, it’s safer for us if we assume you’re not. Nothing personal.
I came to sad realisation that maybe being a woman means that at some point in your life you will experience BASAWYWA. I mean, it means a lot of other wonderful things. But it also means that…
I swear I am not changing focus on my blog; two massively feminist posts in a row, makes you wonder right? But I am a feminist and these things matter to me, and also, I thought I ought to share…