Women Approach Danger Differently: If Trayvon Martin & George Zimmerman Had Been Women

iStock_000002184685XSmallIf Trayvon Martin had been a woman, he would not have been on the phone as he walked on the night he was killed.

Women know not to appear distracted as we walk alone at night. He would have had his head up, his eyes and ears alert as he walked briskly toward home. I am certainly not blaming Trayvon Martin for what happened the night he was killed, but I wonder —  if he had been a woman, and had noted a car circling him menacingly, he might have called a friend who would have told him to hang up, call 911, then call back. If he hadn’t called back, the friend would call 911, too. She would ask where he was so she could tell 911 if she needed to. If the friend was close she might have come in a car to pick him up or she might have advised going to a house along the way, maybe one with a minivan out front because families are safer havens, and wait there for the cops or a ride. If Trayvon Martin were a woman, he might have kept walking, heart in throat until he was home, then he would have rushed inside and checked the doors and windows and waited for flashing lights in the neighborhood.

Trayvon Martin would never have approached the driver if he was a woman.

Women know not to confront a possible attacker. Women know what to do if they’re being stalked along a road. Women are taught flight, not fight.

On the other hand, if George Zimmerman had been a woman he would not have followed Trayvon Martin in his car. I’m not weighing in on whose fear was more valid that night, but if Zimmerman had been a woman, odds are he would have checked the locks and windows and weighed the options of pulling into a nearby driveway to call police or waiting until he got home if he was feeling unsure. He might have called a neighbor and asked the neighbor to watch out a window to make sure he got home OK. If he hadn’t gotten home in the right number of minutes, the neighbor would call 911. Or he might have kept driving, but away from the unknown figure on the street. The locked moving car would have been a haven against being attacked. A gas pedal as self-defense. If George Zimmerman were a woman, he might have kept driving, heart in throat until he was home, then he would have rushed inside and checked the doors and windows and waited for flashing lights in the neighborhood.

George Zimmerman would never have left his car if he were a woman. Women know not to leave a safe spot when a person they perceive as suspicious. Women know not to put themselves in the path of danger.

Women are given a handbook of evasive maneuvers. We are taught teamwork, utilizing friends, neighbors, law enforcement to watch our backs. We know the numbers to call, the doors to knock on to get from danger to safety. We know not to engage the frightening stranger. We are not offensive, we are defensive. A woman doesn’t go after the threat. We try to get away.

We often bemoan the things we have to teach our daughters about how not to get attacked. This weekend, after a jury said that George Zimmerman’s actions were justified and Trayvon Martin’s were punishable by death, I thought for the first time that the lessons we teach girls to keep themselves safe should be universal. That we should teach all of our children how to get away, not how to stop a bad guy in his tracks. That the woman’s handbook of evasive maneuvers is the right one.

Because if either Trayvon Martin or George Zimmerman had acted like a woman, Trayvon Martin might still be alive.

Rebekah Kuschmider is a D.C. area mom with an overdeveloped sense of irreverence, socialist tendencies, a cable news addiction, and a blog. Rebekah has an undergraduate degree in theater and Master’s in Arts Policy and Administration and a decade of experience managing arts organizations and advocating in the public health sector.  Rebekah also blogs about her life, her thoughts, and her opinions at StayAtHomePundit.com.She was voted one of the Top 25 Political Mom Blogs at Circle of Moms. Her work has also been seen at Salon.com, Redbook online, and the Huffington Post.

Image via iStockphoto

  • Sam Wheat

    I love the imagination and creativeness that was used to write this story!

  • If Trayvon was a daughter and not a son, he might not even have been allowed to walk alone to the store. I remember growing-up thinking it was so unfair what my brother was allowed to do, vs. what I was. Very interesting way to look at the situation.

    For me, the biggest what if is… what if Zimmerman didn’t have a gun? Without the gun, it is unlikely the situation would have happened at all and really, really unlikely it would have resulted in a young man’s death.

  • I appreciate the thought that went into this piece. I have to wonder, however, if even the first part is really reflective of the steps women take. I’ve always been taught that when one feels there is danger, it is BETTER to take out a phone, even if you have to pretend, that way the potential attacker will know someone else is “witnessing” or hearing what is happening. That way you yourself feel better knowing someone is at least with you as you are trying to make your way home.

    I think though the question of how women and black men are told – equally – that they don’t belong on public streets is an interesting comparison that should be explored more thoroughly. When I’ve read first hand accounts of black men who have had to endure stop & frisk, always on the lookout, always having to be wary of what their ‘behaviors’ may provide someone by way of excuse, etc., I’ve thought of how similar those experiences are to those of women, who also are always on the lookout and made to feel that they are not safe.

    Very well-written piece! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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