The odds are higher at night, when alone, on an unlit street, wearing a shorter dress….at least, that’s what we tell ourselves. So we can pretend we are safe. We don’t step out after 8. We don’t go to the bathroom alone. We take self defence classes. We live by the rape clock. We abide by the rules. The odds, we hope, may they be ever in our favour.
The thing is, these odds, they never seem to be getting better. For every outrage, we seem to think there is a glimmer of hope. We reassure ourselves, that our daughters won’t have to be afraid of the night. We want the destruction of the rape clock. We want for it to have no need to exist. But until we stop living by it, that will never happen.
My best friend, he tells me I’m too trusting of the world. He shakes his head at me, and I can see him being amazed by how ‘naïve’ I’m being. My father tells me I don’t know how terrible people can be. My sister thinks I’m reckless for having taken a cab at 10 pm – ‘Your safety,’ she says, ‘comes first’. True. It does come first. But what can I do to ensure it? No, not increase the chances. ENSURE it.
Tell me where I am completely safe. Tell me where the statistics say I will NOT be raped or catcalled or harassed or molested or groped. Tell me where the odds are zero. Because only then can I be sure you won’t blame me for what happens. Tell me what I can do so you won’t blame me for being alone, for wearing shorts, for it being dark, for my hair falling a certain way or my voice being too high pitched or my shoulders being simply too alluring or for Chowmein making a man go wild.
Tell me how I can make sure that you will not claim I asked for something that cannot, by definition, be asked for. Stop me from living my life the way I want to. Tell me I trust too much, that I don’t take enough precautions. And then turn around and have the audacity to say #NotAllMen.
The rape clock survives because the victim who doesn’t know who she can turn to for help. A victim who does not need to be reminded that if they had done something differently, this might not have happened. The key word being ‘might’. Maybe a girl skipped that NYE party that night. Safe from a molestation. The rape clock ruled in her favour that night. The next day it doesn’t feel as benevolent. Or maybe the next month. Or the next year.
We live by the rape clock, till its hour hand impales us, and the minute hand sweeps our remains away. I simply do not trust the rape clock. I know it is wicked, I know it is cunning, and I know it can turn on me any moment. It runs on statistics.
‘Lies, damned lies, and…statistics’.
Which probably explains why I’m not too keen on following it.
I never was good at math.