Fear is the one, true constant in women’s lives. It is part of every day and almost all interactions. Even those who are supposed to be keeping them safe can be a threat.

1. The female fear factory

Women live in constant fear, both on and off campus. This is a visceral, real emotion that’s part of everyday movement and encounters. And often, when women want to speak out or resist, they fear the escalation of the danger.

“The fear of who might walk in there at that point. Who may walk in next? You never know.”

“He also believed that campus rape culture was not a big thing because campus is pretty controlled and the fact that he doesn’t see how scary it is to be a girl on campus is quite frightening.”

“I don’t think you ever feel safe on campus…”

“I cannot explain the fear. It just went all through my body. And I just didn’t know, I was literally praying so that I could just get home safely. Because I was alone. It was dark and no one knew, there was no one around…”

“… (T)here were three guys in front of the rez that started making pig noises at her… And she said she felt completely uncomfortable and anxious and they kind of just laughed at her as she walked a bit faster.”

“… (E)specially when (men) talk about stuff like prison and they always talk about like ‘Oh man, if I was in prison, if somebody raped me, I’ll just kill myself.’ However, we as women are expected to deal with it every single day. We know that there is a risk that something might happen to us in the sexual harassment kind of way, and we’re just expected to deal with it. However, men can’t even fathom dealing with such an experience.”

“…(H)ow many times have we had to wait for Ubers alone? And how unsafe that can be.”

“She was at a club in Stellenbosch and this guy kept trying to come near her and start up a conversation and she was like ‘no leave me alone’. …(H)e came up to her, grabbed her and tried to kiss her and she pushed him off …(A)nd she just remembers him being violently angry… (S)he said she was sobbing for days on end and she was just really shaken about what happened.”

2. Fearing campus security staff

Many women have had very negative experiences with campus security staff: inappropriate flirting, unwanted attention, and threatening acts.

“The campus security has also been known to like walk girls home and make advances at them and you really can’t feel safe anywhere in Stellenbosch, anywhere, including having campus security by your side.”

“I’ve spoken to a lot of women that said they felt campus security has been inappropriate with them or flirtatious. A number have called them names, like, not derogatory names but maybe inappropriate names. Names like ‘baby’ or ‘sweetie’. However, women still call campus security to be their safety net if they don’t want to walk home alone, and I think that puts a lot of women in vulnerable positions because it’s a practice they have to employ.”

“And these campus security gentleman wanted to sit with us on this bench and we had told them to go away because we were having a really deep conversation. However, they did not want to leave us alone and we ended up leaving the bench.”

“…And then as the week went on it got progressively worse, he would say things like, ‘I’m dark meat, let me drag you in here and show you the way’…”

“(She would sit) outside her residence and security guards and campus gardeners would invade her personal space and make passes at her, calling her ‘sweet little baby’ … (T)his illustrates the inequality of gender dynamics, regardless of their role as a gardener or as campus security. They felt the entitlement of being a man that they could approach a woman in a certain way.”

Thank you for exploring the second shared theme of Fear. Please click below to move onto the third shared theme of Alcohol.