If, like me, you are silly and female, then you most likely walk home alone in the dead of the West Philadelphian night. I’m not talking about the standard stumble home on a Friday or Saturday when the drunken hordes cavort home on similar trajectories to yours. I’m talking about those quiet weekdays when you accidentally consume too many Red Bulls and wind up having overstayed your patience at Van Pelt until an unsanitary hour. There’s just nothing like leaving the library at 3 a.m. and having to constantly look over your shoulder to make sure you’re not being followed home by some creepy man in a creepy hooded sweatshirt. The truth is, while there some dangers are laid out trap-like for the young males of the Penn population, there’s nothing quite like that inculcated fear that stews within the confines of a girl’s heart as she nervously tries to make her way home. The rustle of leaves, the pattering of heavy footsteps on the Locust Walk cobblestones or even the outline of an approaching pedestrian: these all translate as imminent danger at ungodly hours and instill in me the bolting instinct. Now obviously, there are many resources here on campus that allow us the luxury of avoiding the lonely walk home (898-WALK or Penn Transit being two such options). However, I have sadly been cursed with a weighty ability to overestimate my own worth/capacities for self-defense… I have run countless scenarios in my head in which I Chuck-Norris-Roundhouse-Kick an oncoming assailant in the face, making him drop to the floor while simultaneously swinging my backpack into the face of his aggressive companion. However, I have recently begun to realize that these are unrealistic estimations of my abilities. If I should be faced with a would-be attacker, I would most likely be stuck in position, paralyzed by the fear of oncoming peril. And there is nothing amusing about that prospect, images of Chuck Norris or not. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the men and women whose job it is to stop me on my way home and ask if I need to be escorted home, because it really is a wonderful service that they are offering. However, there is something that makes me uncomfortable with having to make conversation for 15 minutes with someone I hardly know. Maybe it’s because I’m British, or maybe it’s because I’m quite simply an awkward person, but the fear of conversation outweighs the fear of the dark and winding path home. I have luckily never come across an attack on my numerous midnight jaunts. But in light of the recently reported assaults that have happened on and near campus, I am increasingly feeling that I should leave my imprudent conversational angst behind so that I, at least, don’t become another statistic.


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