Superheroes are a favourite in our household. From the X-men to Thor and the Avengers – we love all the movies. On the weekend I watched the recent Wonder Woman movie for the first time. It was one of those movies that I really wanted to see in the cinema but it just didn’t happen. Although the WWI setting was a surprise and I’m somewhat cynical about the outfit, I still wish I had seen it on the big screen. With the long list of male superheroes it’s empowering to see a female superhero who can kick butt.
I wish I could kick butt.
Since the end of winter I have been motivated to get a little more serious about increasing my health and fitness. I have no illusions about being anything remotely close to a superhero, but in order to care for Dan, I need to care for myself too. So on a few mornings every week, after dropping Dan off at Yellow Bridge, I have been taking a walk around the streets of Toowoomba.
I’ve always considered Toowoomba a reasonably safe place to go walking in daylight. Mostly I walk the streets of the CBD but occasionally I have taken the bike path that follows West Creek. Except for an occasional cyclist, I am usually alone on the bike path and I didn’t think anything of it – until recently.
Nothing serious happened. Just a comment at a set of traffic lights by a guy somewhat under the weather. As I said, nothing happened and fortunately he headed off with his mate in a different direction, but it made me reconsider the routes I walk. I no longer take the bike path.
The bike path meanders along the creek, behind a string of businesses and where there is less opportunity for witnesses. Nothing has ever happened on the bike path, but it could. So now I stick to the streets of the CBD where there is a steady stream of traffic and plenty of people walking by.
The recent headlines of sexual harassment in Hollywood have reminded me again of the reality of life for women. My first reaction is to be thankful it has never happened to me. Or has it? While I have never been sexually harassed or abused anywhere near to the same extent, there have been the whistles and comments, inappropriate gestures or touches, that we just tend to ignore or sweep aside as a part of life. Has sexual harassment become so normalised that we don’t even recognise it unless it is at the severe end of the spectrum?
As Bec prepares to head off to Brisbane next year, we have had numerous conversations about the daily practicalities of living away from home, as well as the more serious ones about staying safe. It’s an anxious time when your child leaves home, especially when they are also moving to another city. It’s not university life that we worry about. It’s not coping with the daily skills that Mum used to do, either. It’s the unspoken essential part of every woman’s life – keeping safe.
Everyday we are confronted with the stories of women and girls who have been sexually harassed, raped and abused by powerful men and even family members. They have been disbelieved, ignored and blamed. Now I am not a man-hater. I know that men and boys are victims of sexual harassment and abuse too. I also know that there are men who do respect and honour women – they just seem to get lost among all the headlines.
But is it any wonder we get mad.
Is it any wonder we want to kick butt.
Is it any wonder we wish we could be a superhero too.