Woman Home Secretary Speaks Out On Street Fears At Night
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has told it as it is: many of us, men and especially women, are fearful of being out alone at night. Only really unimaginative or insensitive people – or perhaps some opportunist political opponents – would disagree with Ms Smith. This is not a new state of affairs. We have but to recall past feminist campaigns to ‘reclaim the night’ to know that.
So Jacqui Smith, the UK’s first woman Home Secretary, doesn’t enjoy being out alone at night.
This is surely not a new or startling revelation. The Home Secretary’s ‘admission’ – to me, a simple statement of a truth recognised by many – feels far more like reality than much of what we read in the papers.
Reclaim (‘retake’) the night
The idea that there is something to fear, out alone at night, is instilled in many girls (and some boys) from a very early age. In 1976 a movement began to recognise and act on this fear, by ‘reclaiming the night‘ from the men who were deemed to make it dangerous.
Women across Europe and the USA marched thirty years ago to demonstrate their belief that streets should be safe 24/7; but only more recently has this action begun again.
Telling it as it is
It feels very disingenuous that male politicians should denounce a woman in their midst who speaks candidly on a matter as fundamental as personal safety.
I hope these same men would not encourage their own female friends and family to walk the streets unaccompanied at night.
Making the streets safer
Sometimes people have to travel alone in the dark. To make their journeys safer, it is first necessary to speak the truth, to acknowledge realities, even when unpleasant.
Only after we know and understand problems can we ameliorate them.
Let’s start by thanking Jacqui Smith for being candid; and then let’s see how we can all, together, conscious femininists or not, reclaim those scary streets.