The following excerpt entitled, "The Lessons We Learn," comes from a report on two women viciously murdered on the AT.

"The day after the murders were reported in The Washington Post, a woman camping along the Appalachian Trail was reported as saying that she felt safe hiking with a male companion. She said "But when I think of the women out here hiking alone, it really scares me." If we see this as the isolated incident, rather than a hate crime with political implications for all members of the targeted group, then statements like this can be made. But how would a statement like that play in the case of the 40 odd African American churches that have been burned (see News pages this issue)? Imagine an African American saying "When I think of African Americans going to all black churches, it scares me. I feel safe going to churches that are predominantly white."

[We succumb to many dangers by] ceding whole arenas of life as "too dangerous" for women alone. Many women feel they would be "asking for it" if they went certain places without male escorts. So we simply agree not to go places such as camping, out at night, or into cities without a male escort.

"I miss my husband"

I once talked to a couple of married women about why they missed their husbands when they were gone on business trips. I found this strange, because I loved it when my husband went away (I was married at the time). I loved feeling the freedom to be and do whatever I wanted. When I asked them what it was about their husbands they missed and why they did not relish time alone, they replied that they didn't feel safe -- that they were afraid to be alone. So, in addition to all the activities women may not participate in outside their homes due to the "danger," many women don't even feel safe to live alone.

It's not even that we are not safe in certain locations. We are not safe anywhere we go without a male escort. We feel safe in our own homes (as long as a man is there), we feel safe in the woods (as long as a man is there), and we feel safe to go out at night (as long as it is with a man). I suppose we feel safe to go some places without a man -- a shopping mall during the day, the grocery store, the day care center to pick up the kids (coincidentally all things which fit neatly into women's traditional roles). But major areas of our lives, especially those which defy traditional feminine roles (such as going camping alone or living without men), are circumscribed because of the supposedly random isolated incidents by a few psychos."

(Murder on the Appalachian Trail Mantilla, Karla; copyright Off Our Backs, Inc. Jul 1996; Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved)

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