Thursday, August 2, 2007

How Do You Live In The Big City?

I was just noticing the other day things I kinda do out of habit.

For example, if it's late at night and I'm on my way home on the bus, a few stops before mine I'll take my keys out of my bag and loop them through my fingers. I tell myself, and most other people that ask me why I'm doing this, that it is so I don't have to stand in darkness in front of my door fumbling desparately for my keys. But I also know that in the event of an attack that keys to the eyeball is a great way of saying "Don't Fucking Touch Me."

Further, if its really really late, when I get off the bus, I will also ring up the boy on my cellphone, and talk to him until I enter my apartment and lock the door. (After which, I settle down by spending mindless hours on them internets...)

I noticed the other day, too that when the pizza guy was dropping off my order and attempting to make small talk as I fumbled with my credit card, that when he asked me if I lived here alone, that I automatically said, "No, my boyfriend lives here too." In fact, I usually tell male strangers, who either deliver me pizza or are hooking up my internet connection, when they inquire about my living arrangements that I live with a boyfriend. Though I don't make a point of saying so if they do not ask.

And of course, the boy doesn't live with me. I live alone. And most of the time, this is a fact I proudly admit to. No roommates with the need to have clean dishes at all times for this witch. No rent collecting from people who haven't been home for a week for me, no sir-ee.

But I just find it weird that I have those automatic defenses, when I've never actually had the experience of being attacked, nor have the cablemen ever been threatening or menacing at all. And despite reported increases (or maybe its just increases in reports...I dunno) in gun violence in Toronto, I do not feel like I am unsafe in my city. I love this city, and I love that I live alone and independant in it, though I am certainly not lonely or without community.

It's not like I haven't experienced the pitfalls of cat-calling and other horribly sexist behaviours. I served in a dirty sports bar for three years; I've jammed my fair share of elbows in greasy drunken necks belonging to bodies that just tried to rub their sweaty balls on my leg as I pass by with a tray of beer. Yes, I'm still bitter.

Am I just being another paranoid white woman in the city? These habits of mine, they are not particularly conscious. They just happen automatically during certain situations. I don't even remember when I started to do most of them. To be honest, my own personal city-safety is not really on my mind all that much. It is a much bigger concern to both my parents and the boy then it is to me.

Am I just socially conditioned to behave in matters of (attempted) self preservation as a woman, then? Is this how women grow up in cities? I mean, the boy calls me when he's walking home late by himself sometimes, but he doesn't prep his keys, and no one really ever asks him if he lives alone when the guy from Rogers comes over.

Maybe I just watch too many episodes of Cold Case.

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