Note: This is not a post about running, but about walking. Specifically me walking in the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center’s 2014 Walk for Change. So, it’ll probably be more of my musings on the reasons I went out on a slightly damp, overcast Saturday for a good cause. If that’s not your thing, feel free to skip ahead.
27 Minutes. Next bus leaving at 9:05 a.m.
31 Minutes on foot.
The route mapped from my house to DCR’s Artesani Park, site of the BARCC Walk for Change for which I have been raising funds for the last month. I had aimed to beat my goal from last year–my super-generous friends donated a total of $500, and I dressed in a costume picked by my top donor. This year, I was going cheap, and going to dress in my Finn (from “Adventure Time”) costume, leftover from Halloween–and from being a huge nerd.
Me at the 2013 Walk for Change. The top donor picked a colonial outfit.
I didn’t make my goal, however, and set out in my regular clothes and the BARCC walk T-shift from last year. I set out on foot, deciding the 4 minute difference was worth it getting there a few minutes early.
The weather on the verge of raining from the moment I left my apartment. I immediately regretted dressing as lightly as I did–so, in many ways, not unlike when I go for a run. I found my friends, including an adorable and excitable puppy named Stormageddon–Stormy for short, and we got ready to walk along the river and back. I carried an umbrella and, as a member of the BARCC Hotline fundraising team, a sign that read “Hotliners are hot!”
I started walking last year, in part because I have a handful of friends who work for the organization, and in part because it feels like the right thing to do. The much-maligned phrase “rape culture” became apparent to me after the Steubenville rape case. Watching reporters wail about the future of the young athlete rapists, rather than the future of the survivor was eye-opening.
But even before then, the big moment when I realized there was something wrong was sitting on the train, a few months prior, with nothing particular going through my head. An epiphany struck when I realized that, for me, one of the biggest things I fear when I wander through some of the less savory parts of town, is being mugged, robbed–and in rare occasions, injured. I know I am statistically quite safe, as a straight, white, 6-foot-tall, male. I am also fortunate that I usually feel safe when I wander through town.
The girl sitting opposite me on the train, eyeing a particularly loud and creepy gentleman with suspicion, possibly had worse fears going through her head. (I grant, I have no idea what was going through her head in reality, but I was more likely dubbing the fears expressed by female friends in for her actual internal monologue). When the train stopped at its final, and all of our stops, she let him get off first. I kind of wanted to offer to walk her home, but worried that, in context, that would be equally creepy.
Fundamentally, there was nothing different between me and this woman on the train. We were two twenty-somethings who happened to live in the same neighborhood. We lead different lives, but there is nothing inherent in me that makes me “deserve” my fears, nor anything that makes her “deserve” hers. So, it struck me as vastly unfair that I’m scared someone will take my wallet, and this woman (a stand-in, really, for the people I care about) was afraid of being sexually assaulted.
I didn’t know what to do about this, but I wanted to do something. Then, one of my BARCC friends sent out an email inviting people to the walk.
The walks themselves are token gestures. I spent both walking and chatting with friends, and building connections with them. I aimed to raise more money this year, but ran out of time (that said, the Walk for Change donation pages are still open for contributions).
The speakers at the kick-off events insist we are making a difference, and I’ll admit that I don’t really feel like I am–at least, not directly. I know that my presence alone supports my dear friends who are working on the front lines at BARCC. That my friends appreciate me being there to support them, so that they can go and support survivors through some of the roughest times in their lives.
That is kind of priceless. That is worth coming back for next year.