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Traces of fear

Stephanie wrote a very newspaper strong piece on catching the serial rapist in Umeå:

When the news came out that Hagamanen was caught my phone started ringing off the hook. Friends from both in and out of Umeå rang to tell me – and I was excited! Later, when I was sitting with my daughter on the couch listening to the press conference a thought occurred to me. Hagamannen has been caught, but he has forever changed the way that women move in Umeå. He has, in his wake of violence, left a legacy of fear. Coming from the USA I was taught at a young age to fear the dark and to fear being a lone woman in the dark. We were taught to believe that there were hagamen behind every bush, and the statistics supported this fear. In the USA, one out of every four women are sexually assaulted. We are taught ways to avoid being alone, as well as various ways of defending ourselves. Defensive techniques are passed down from mother to daughter the way that recipes and family stories are. Since making Umeå my home 5 years ago, I have been able to get past those fears and those lessons and experience the ability to move freely – despite my gender. It felt wonderful to be able to walk across town in the evening and not be afraid. But now my fear is different. I fear that the small concessions we have made – walking in groups, walking with a male, buying alarms and defensive sprays – will remain in our subconscious. We will begin to take these new behaviors and pass them on to the next generation. We will signal, by virtue of our fear, that we are the weaker sex and that we have taken the proper precautions to defend ourselves if we need to. I want my own daughter, and my friends, and my workmates to walk again in peace, not fearfully within a guarded box.

Makes me thinking of other, not so life endangering, fears from the past that shape our lifes today…

Archived version of this entry is available at http://blog.mathemagenic.com/2006/03/31.html#a1751; comments are here.

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