Your say / nighttime

‘A woman’s Sat Nav after dark’

By liz clarke, Tuesday Sep 17, 2019

Turn left.

Turn right.

Slow down pace to let swerving man pass.

Turn left.

Slight right.

Speed up so that there is a good distance between me and man behind me.

Cross road.

Stare hard at a man waving a bottle and shouting at me.

Continue Straight.

Remember to put on my large, noticeable, over ear headphones. No music though, so I can hear what’s going on.

Turn Right.

Cross road to avoid group of drunk men walking towards me.

Continue Straight.

Walk purposefully, fast and with attitude.

Continue Straight. Route longer but busier.

Cross road to avoid raucous pub.

Speed up so that there is a good distance between me and man behind me.

Slight left. Ignore man gesticulating at me as he approaches.

Continue Straight. Slow down pace to let man pass me.

Turn Right. Take long route to avoid dark road.

Continue Straight. Street lights broken – find keys to hold.

Turn Right. Walk in road to avoid overgrown hedges at the side of the common.

Continue Straight.

Continue Straight.

Turn Right.

Home.

Footnote:

I started making this mental list of all the things I had done almost unconsciously on a short journey home following a night out (I like a good walk in the relative quiet of the evening). Behaviours leaned over a lifetime.

It was a perfunctory list, not so bad, noted with a sigh rather than with fear or anger. A list that pretty much every womxn reading will be familiar with. As like most (not all) of my walks home, it ended with nothing more than tired feet. I thought I might make a piece of writing out of it and thought no further.

The next morning I learned that a serious sexual assault took place nearby. Along one of the routes that I would have taken if my ‘sat nav’ hadn’t advised against it for being secluded. Shaking with anger and sadness I write this; not because “it could have been me”, but that this learned behaviour is part of our lives, to save our lives; and is likely to be part of our daughters’ lives too. When will it end? #stopviolenceagainstwomen

Liz Clarke is a live artist and facilitator living in south Bristol.

Main photo by Derek Britton

Read more: Women set to march through Bristol to Reclaim the Night

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