I got photographed for something called "The FEAR Project", about sexual assault. I didn't really mean to; they had a tent up and were actively soliciting passerby, explained very briefly that I'd be Fighting For The Sistahs and shoved a model release in my hands and a lens in my face. Smile, snap, thank you ma'am.
A few weeks later I saw the final display (which didn't contain my picture, they photographed a zillion people and only displayed about twenty photos), which consisted of various community-member portraits interspersed with text about how "sexual abuse affects us all." It's not that I disagree, but... the title of the project, combined with the shots' tendency to show people looking scared or hurt, kind of bothered me. Because these weren't portaits of sexual assault victims, just of people. The message seemed to be "we are all afraid."
I am not afraid. Not because I live and work in safe neighborhoods, not because I take Krav Maga and carry mace, not even because one of my closest friends is a Washington State Patrolman (and avid gun collecter). It's not situational like that. It's because... I could get grandiose, but frankly it's because I'm just stupid enough.
I'm stupid enough to put my vulnerabilities out of mind and live my life as if I were in a First World country with internal peace and the rule of law. I'm stupid enough to think that fear is an assault commited upon me only if I allow it. I'm stupid enough to think that going out and speaking my mind and being sexual are fundamental rights, and if I wouldn't let them be outlawed by the entire government I'm sure as hell not letting some goon (who may not even exist) scare me out of them.
And I'm stupid enough to think "I'm only going to live once, and won't I feel stupid about all those missed opportunities if it turns out I die of a heart attack?"
Maybe I should be afraid. Maybe a little caution would save me a lot of pain and humiliation someday. Hey, isn't walking with a male escort or shutting up about your stupid kinky sex life an awfully small sacrifice compared to what an assailant or a stalker could do? But fuck it. I'm not talking about should. I'm talking about am.
And I am not fucking afraid. Of anything.
Seeya later, I'm gonna go swimming with alligators now.