Gal’s Guide


Story by Spectator Staff

We are four college-aged women who all don specs on our faces while working long hours at The Spectator. For now we are journalism students, but we have plans of conquering the world. However, before we do we have a few things to learn.

This week: staying safe.

Jessie Tremmel

Op/Ed Editor

Ask any of your male friends what they do to remain safe while walking home, alone late at night.

I doubt they consciously do anything.

As females, we are conditioned to worry about our safety while alone. We carry our keys between our fingers, keep our finger hovered over the tab on the pepper spray and wear shoes that we can sprint in. We are told we should be able to protect ourselves. Heck, does anyone remember Sandra Bullock’s talent during the pageant in Miss Congeniality?

SING. Bullock taught females how to fight off an attacker. Solar plexus, instep, nose, groin. Finally, a talent that is useful. I can credit my self-defense skills to a chick flick.

And let’s be real, statistics show you are more likely to be sexually assaulted by someone you know. According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, in between 80 and 90 percent of cases of sexual assault, the assailant and the victim know each other.

While stranger danger isn’t something we all should forget about, I think we all need to be aware of where we are, who we are with and what the intentions of others are.

Courtney Kueppers

Managing Editor

Are you supposed to be on your phone or aren’t you? If you are, it looks like you could quickly call 911, but it also means you are distracted and possibly an easier target.

Will wearing your hair in a ponytail make you easier to grab? When you get to your car in a parking lot, should you check under it to see if any potential harm is hiding there in the dark?

Do these things sound ridiculous to you? Because they do to me, but they are things college-aged women and high school girls are told over and over again. We get bombarded with messages about how to stay safe if walking alone at night. They are vast, they are conflicting, they are confusing and most of all: they are unsettling.

We need to stop scaring girls and women. We need to stop associating night time and walking alone with rapists, abductors and perverts hiding in the bushes. Not because the threat isn’t real for way too many girls and women but because we are targeting the wrong crowd. Instead of teaching females how not to be raped, let’s teach everyone not to rape.

An entire population of people should not need a pal to get them to and from their destination after the sun goes down.

Kristina Bornholtz

News Editor

I was walking home from a late night at The Spectator office last week – late as in past midnight. It was dark and quiet as I started the 10-minute walk back to my house, and not even thinking about it, I slipped my headphones on and started walking.

It wasn’t until I thought I heard a noise behind me – a noise that turned out to be a biker trying to pass me – that I realized what a dangerous situation I was putting myself in. How dare I try to listen to music instead of paying attention to my surroundings?

As women, we are trained our whole lives to be afraid of walking around alone at night. There are always threats of someone hiding in the bushes, prowling around, waiting to take advantage of the unsuspecting woman walking home alone.

I remember getting this lecture as an eight year old and have revisited it again and again my entire life.

In conversation with a male friend, I learned he liked to take runs at night because it was convenient for his schedule and there was less traffic to worry about. When I asked him if he was afraid, he asked, “Why would I be?”

It’s a shame that walking home alone has become a series of recommendations on how not to get assaulted, instead of teaching society how not to assault. But unfortunately that is the reality we live in now. And as a woman with a lot of late nights at the office ahead of me, I’m not just going to not walk home.

Use your resources. Take a self-defense class, carry pepper spray, download revolutionary apps like Kitestring, designed to alert authorities if something should happen. But don’t let the fear keep you from doing the things that you, as a human, have a right to do: like walking home alone at night.

Anna Mateffy

Photo Editor

During winterim two years ago, I visited my friends on campus. After watching a late-night movie in Putnam, I walked up the hill to stay with my friend in Chancellors. I had never seen campus so dead; no lights in any dorm rooms, no voices came from rooms lining the sidewalk. Then, a set of pickup truck headlights caught my eye as I walked past Governors.

I scolded myself for my sudden fear and kept walking. But the headlights started following me just slowly enough to stay in my periphery. By the time I got to Oak Ridge, the rumbling of the pickup truck’s engine fueled my quicker pace.

I saw my friend waiting for me inside Chancellors’s doors and started running when I heard the pickup’s engine shut off and the doors open and slam close. My friend held the door open and slammed it behind me. We looked outside behind the locked doors as two men glared at us, climbed back in the truck and drove away.

Since then, I’ve understandably been a bit wary of walking alone on campus at night. If I’m in town during a break, I do not walk alone after dark. I either drive or walk with a buddy. During the school year, I am not so adamant about walking with someone, but I can’t seem to shake my heightened awareness of my surroundings.