AuthorHiggins, Maeve

"Every now and then, it is true, a man rises unexpectedly in our midst like a pine tree, and looks savagely at us, and sends us hobbling away in great floods to hide in the caves and gullies until he is gone."

My friend Megan shared those lines from the Lydia Davis short story, "Men," on Instagram in March after a thirty-three-year-old woman named Sarah Everard was abducted and murdered on her walk home in London. It happened on a busy, well-lit street.

For me and, Id venture, most women, this talk of savagery and hiding rang true. Certainly, in the United Kingdom, there was a massive outcry as the deadly consequences of misogyny roared to the forefront of our minds once more. It made me recall all of the times I've been harassed on the street, in cities around the world.

What a shame that something as fundamental as walking safely in public can be taken from us, and will remain largely out of reach until there is a sea change in how men treat women.

Through this pandemic and the consequent lockdowns, one of the things I've been missing is spending time alone in public. I'd forgotten about the slight but constant vigilance required just to navigate my way through the world.

Having a pint and reading a book in a bar is an exquisite way to spend a couple of hours. As the alcohol seeps into your body, so do the words, softening the boundaries between the reader and the writer.

When I lived in Dublin, this was an unremarkable way to spend an afternoon for men, but for me it was a tightly organized mission. Which pub was safest? Which seat was hidden enough not to attract attention but still be in view of the bartender in case of a hassle? Was there a taxi stand close by? What time did it get dark?

I accepted these layers of concern, having internalized that when it came to leisure time the rules for cis men and the rest of us were different. Or rather, some specific rules existed only for the rest of us.

Wayne Couzens, a police officer with an elite London unit, has been charged with Everard's murder. When the British government responded to her killing by suggesting it would put more undercover police in nightclubs, the reaction was derision and...

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