People always comment on the fact that girls go everywhere in pairs, how they can’t even go to the bathrooms without a friend. It seems to be scorned and looked down on but in actual fact, there is a very simple reason as to why this is.
Ever since we were young it’s been drummed into our heads that it’s not safe to go anywhere alone; from holding our parents’ hands to walking with your partner on school trips, from a young age we’ve been taught to go places together. At the time, it was unclear as to why this was so important and until recently it hadn’t quite hit home for me.
My friend and I were walking home from the cinema one day when a man with a face scarf on sprinted across the road towards us and started walking alongside us. We were both aware of him but continued with our conversation while subtly slowing down to see if he would overtake us. He simultaneously slowed down. I had my left side with my bag closest to the wall and he was on my friend’s right side, when I looked across at him I could see him staring at me behind her. We sped up and as imagined so did he, subconsciously we drew closer together and then I stopped suddenly to pretend to tie my shoe lace. It was so sudden that he took a few paces before realising where upon he stopped and leant against the wall watching us. At no point did he speak to us, yet just this unwanted and odd presence was intimidating enough that we turned on our heel and sprinted away from him, outrunning him was easy and he did not put up much of a chase. Instead, he just ran across the busy road in the opposite direction. It was unclear as to what he wanted as we didn’t stick around to see if we were about to be mugged or kidnapped but if either of us had been alone it would have been ten times as scary and could have had serious consequences. I have been fairly removed from dangerous experiences as I don’t live in a city but it happens everywhere and you cannot escape it.
This is an insanely mild occurrence in comparison with some of the stories that you hear, speak to any girl and they will definitely have had experienced something along the same lines some more serious than others. I’m not being sexist in saying girls, according to Rape Crisis 95% of the calls to the helpline were female. This may be due to the stigma around sexual abuse towards boys meaning that they often feel that they cannot report it as it is not ‘manly’ but also the fact that women are generally considered the weaker sex meaning that they are
There is definitely something to be said for safety in numbers, it is common for girls to find that when walking alone you feel as if you are prey just waiting to be picked off. It is not a coincidence that packs of animals are the strongest predators, a pack of men is immensely intimidating for the simple reason that they can overpower almost anyone if they work together. In the same sense a group of women are just as powerful but perhaps in a different way, their vulnerability is reduced considerably and often they feel the power they radiate. It is this reason that victims of crimes are usually picked due to the fact that they are alone and at their most vulnerable, this is almost definitely why 1,700 of rape victims were aged 15 or under (where age was known), those aged under 25 represented 33% of service users and 23% of all victims identified as disabled.
So next time you comment on how these girls don’t go anywhere alone, it’s not because they think people will think that they have no friends, that it will damage their image. No, the real reason is it is simply a safety precaution that has been drummed into them even if they themselves don’t realise it.