I heard yet another harrowing tale of a young woman disappearing and believed dead on the radio this morning. This time it was a twenty-two year-old backpacking in New Zealand. She was last seen going into a hotel with a man.
In this twenty-first century, you would think it would be safe for a young woman to be out alone. After all, the age of savagery is long gone, isn’t it? What a pipe-dream.
The problem is young women are brought up to believe they are equal in every way to men. I readily espouse this view, but in the area of safety I will always have reservations. It simply isn’t the case, unfortunately, that if a man can go backpacking on his own, women can do the same. It doesn’t work out this way because men are stronger than women and some men, as we have seen time and time again, will avail themselves of this advantage.
This isn’t a rant on men’s sexuality. Most men are decent. Many men are loving fathers to daughters, love their sisters and respect their mothers. I am talking about dangerous men with skewed minds, who persuade themselves that the women they target will want their advances and enjoy forced sex with them. When they go too far and go on to kill their subjects, some are even able to rationalize their actions and manage to sleep well at night afterwards.
Psychologists say the actions of rapists and killers are fuelled by the need for power. Some say they have had fraught relationships with their mothers, and there are many other explanations as to why they are a danger to women. Either way, a young woman on her own will appeal to these men as would a gazelle to a predator on the Serengeti – easy target, easily taken.
In the aftermath of this sad story I hope young women will come to realize that, even though they are as good as men, even though they can do many things as well as men, in the areas of walking out alone and travelling alone, they are on sticky ground. Unfortunately, this isn’t about to change any time soon.
Emancipation is with us yes. It’s alive and it’s real. However, true freedom hasn’t landed in our laps. If young women delude themselves into thinking that it has, they might find themselves paying a very high price for their mistake.