I walk the streets alone

In lieu of the statement made by Félix Bauzó, the PRPD lead investigator to the hit and run that claimed the life of singer/songwriter Ivania Zayas at around one in the morning on Saturday, February 7, 2015, I’m writing this post.

Bauzó, whose statement “we need to investigate what a lady was doing by herself crossing that avenue alone,” has sparked outraged and protest of the machista way of thinking of Puerto Rican culture amongst many progressive women, prompting thousands of them to photograph themselves while walking the streets alone. It has also, inadvertently started an artistically inclined movement online with the hashtag #andandolacallesola (walking the streets alone) as women take strength in writing poetry, share photos and open letters, along with other forms of artistic expressions to convey their feelings and their bravery of walking the streets alone in a country whose criminality is rivaling the infamy of Mexico City.

Here, I’m adding my two cents to the movement – this poem sparked by not only the machista statement of Bauzó, but by the fact that most of everything I do is in fact alone. It has been so for quite some time. The fact that my ‘independence’ seems to be considered strange, offensive, and intimidating. While I didn’t think twice about going anywhere alone in New York, or anywhere else I lived, it is here that I sometimes stop and think of the treatment that I’ll get because I’m alone. Awkward silences and glances are what fill the eyes of many men and women that I meet throughout the day. Often times when I got to the mechanic, or hardware store, I’m usually suggested to inform ‘your husband’ on how to fix something and when I inform them that I am the one that’s going to be fixing, I’m hear a slight scoff under their breath and watch as their eyes widen in surprise.

The fact that Puerto Rico still has a long way to go in recognizing the ability of women to do things on their own is confounding.

Where there’s a group of women struggling to break free from the patriarchal way of life that has ruled this country since before the U.S. invaded in the Spanish-American war of 1898, there’s another group that holds on tightly to a way of life that deems them ‘not strong enough’ to carry themselves alone in this world. Making those who want to focus on their careers, without thinking of children or marriage more of an anomaly. Often chastised by a community that strongly believes that a woman’s place is next to a man, and behind a few children, probably at a desk somewhere – but often the snide remarks of “what’s wrong with her that she doesn’t want to get married?” are heard everywhere.

As a progressive community, we still have long ways to go, for full gender equality in Puerto Rico. Discrimination of gender, sexual identity are a part of every day life. “That’s how it is here” is what is said with an attitude of you can’t change things. But, if we are going to be a part of the world, we need to change the way we think. We need to grant equal rights to everyone, and most importantly, we need to stop limiting ourselves in our ability to accomplish things. Re-education, realization and inspiration needs to happen before we can truly respect one another, to realize each of our strengths and capabilities.

Until then, the group of women fighting for their rights to walk alone will use the power of the internet, to spread the word that women can do many things alone – including walking an avenue, at 1:00am, 3:00am or 6:00am.

I walk the streets alone

#andandolacallesola
#andandolacallesola

No man. No children. Just me.

There’s nothing that can stop…me

I am the caretaker of my father

The leader of my pack

I walk the streets alone

I keep myself alert

Close the doors. Windows up.

Never let anyone know where I live.

Still, I walk the streets alone.

For years it has been so.

I get the wondering looks

“Where is her husband?”

“Where are her children?”

“Why is she alone?”

Then I get the ‘resolved’ looks

“They must be at school, work, or home”

They cannot fathom, that I walk the streets alone

I walk the streets alone

I answer to no one

I apologize to no one

I am a lone woman

Who can walk…

…the streets alone

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s