Women Jogging on St. Charles Avenue at Night

Today’s bike ride took me up to campus for summer school night school with a quick ill-fated stop at the post office–the summer heat takes its toll on power supplies, and the station on Louisiana Ave was all burned out. I wasn’t much looking forward to tonight’s class session on sexual violence. Important stuff, yes, but it’s hard to talk about, especially when it is so personal for so many of us, and for just as many, it seems, it is all overblown and women need to just use common sense and stop dressing like sluts and drinking too much. Yeah, in my experience it can be a tough dynamic to manage in the classroom. Class went surprisingly well, with most everyone staying respectful but still voicing honest opinions and concerns. When I was riding my bike home I passed a number of women out for evening runs, a wise move in our already-stultifying summer heat. As I whizzed by them I thought about how recalcitrant this idea is, that the way to solve sexual violence is for women to take all precautions, to make sure we aren’t outside alone at night and that we only drink with friends (though, especially for college women, friends and acquaintances are their most likely attackers), if we drink at all. Those simply can’t be our solutions, because the women I passed tonight need a world where they can go running after dark, and I need a world where I can bike home at any time, because that’s how I’m going to be moving through the world for the foreseeable future, and I am most assuredly not taking applications for an escort. I don’t know the answer, but I know it will mean some serious rethinking of masculinity, and as much as I don’t want to teach this stuff, I’d better stick with it.