student to student
A recent discussion in government class brought a very real issue into focus for me. The topic was sexual harassment, and soon it became a heated talk over whether or not women have the right to feel scared.
It had never before occurred to me that some men would not understand why women consciously grab for their keys when they hear footsteps behind them. Or how men could feel stereotyped if women feel threatened when a man, starts walking toward them on the street. The longer I think about it the larger the grey area grows, can women assume every man is bad and can men assume every women knows that it’s just a coincidence they are walking the same direction.
It’s the vulnerable factor that keeps women, even those secure in their self-defense skills, on edge when walking alone or out at night. Yet in Park City worries such as these rarely cross our minds. I have had no second thoughts when carousing Main Street late at night with only a few girlfriends. My mom walks the dog at night alone in our neighbor hood. But our small town is growing, and this was highlighted a few weeks ago when a lady was attacked outside the Park City Library. Although it happened during Sundance, such events are not to be purely blamed on the out-of-towners brought in by the festival. After all Sundance encouraged people to walk instead of driving or taking public transportation. And the Park City Library, a main venue, was a fairly bustling place.
As our small town grows so does the risk associated with living in a city.
Although it may seem small now, the exponential growth of Park City will soon make it a city, not just a town. Although it may keep its
small-town feel, Park City will no longer be a place where locals recognize each other, our small town bubble will burst. When this happens the women of the town will officially receive the right to be anxious when they are alone in a parking garage or when they hear someone behind them. Right now, as one boy in government class said, "for a girl to be seriously afraid in Park City is slightly paranoid, unless a prior event has happened, people in Park City have little reason to be concerned". So while we may still view the recent attack a fluke, it is hard not to consider ourselves prime targets. We are constantly bombarded on the news with stories of terror and perverts, all happening in some community, which also probably considers itself small and safe.
The best part of having this safety talk in class was that many of us are getting ready to move on to colleges in big cities, where there is always reason to keep your guard up.
So while we all may feel well protected in our mountain town, it doesn’t mean we should abandon all regard for our safety and security. As the nice people move into town, so do the creeps. While development can mean great things for Park City, it also means increasing our concern. We may have more stores, but in return, perhaps we sacrifice our right to walk alone at night near the Park City library. So the debate continues, whether women’s fears can be justified despite the fact that they live a life of relative safety.
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Hotel occupancy in the Park City area during Sundance is projected to drop dramatically from a typical year as organizers shift the event online.