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Indeed, prevailing social norms dictate that females be fearful and cautious about using public spaces perceived as potentially dangerous or threatening. “Women’s Place: Urban Planning, Housing Design and Work-Family Balance.” , 76, 7 September 2016. (1993) “”The Woman in the Street:” Reclaiming the Public Space from Sexual Harassment,” : 6(2), ______________________________________________________ Natalie Patterson is a second year Master’s student in Urban and Regional Planning and is pursuing that Program’s Nonprofit and Nongovernmental Organization Management and Economic Development certificates.In fact, women who have been found to be in the “wrong place at the wrong time” have borne at least partial blame for the harassment or attacks they endured in some court decisions. She earned her BA in Environmental Studies and Geography from Calvin College.
The recent case of former Stanford University undergraduate Brock Turner and his unnamed victim provide an example of this phenomenon. Her current research interests are focused on faith based communities and how they serve the interests and needs of individuals with disabilities.
Turner capitalized on one of these questionable spaces (a poorly lit area near a dumpster) to rape an unconscious female resident, and the presiding judge in his trial has been sharply criticized for the leniency of the sentence he imposed. Speculations on Housing, Urban Design, and Human Work.” 1.1, 59-72. doi=10.1.1.467.3025&rep=rep1&type=pdf Accessed 7 Sept. Natalie enjoys running, reading and exploring the ‘green and blue trails’ of the Blue Ridge Mountains by foot and kayak.
Personally, I have chosen not to carry a weapon when I run, but this is not to say that I am not conscious of the potential risks of physical or psychological abuse I bear when I use the Roanoke Greenway.
Running, for me, as for many of the other female runners I know, is a therapeutic and self-esteem boosting activity. (2006) ‘Risky bodies at leisure: young women negotiating space and place’, , 40(5), pp.853-871.
Sadly, however, it is nonetheless true that many women have been completely deterred from utilizing the Greenway (and similar public spaces in Roanoke and elsewhere) in light of the potential personal risks to self or psyche or both that these locations may harbor.
I do however remain hopeful that increased public recognition of this discriminatory reality, more gender aware and sensitive design of public spaces and ultimately, a more complete change in social norms and expectations, will soon ensure that women enjoy the possibilities such locations represent safely, and without a second thought. The physical design of houses reflected these norms by providing specific spaces in which women spent their time (for instance, designated areas for a laundry room).More generally, social norms prescribed that women should create a “nurturing and soft environment” in their homes, while their spouses were expected to work in the larger, more risk filled, work-a-day professional environment beyond (Bondi 1992).This reality limits women’s engagement with such public entities in ways that men need not, and often do not, consider (Mc Dowell 1983).Whether these specific potentially threatening spaces actually produce physical or verbal attacks does little to allay the feelings of fear, anxiety and avoidance experienced by women who must nevertheless remain mindful of them (Green and Singleton 2006).I do occasionally wear headphones to block out catcalls and similar harassment, but I do not pretend to be completely comfortable on the Greenway at dusk or in that path’s bathroom at any hour, without someone standing watch outside. Nevertheless, I do routinely pursue an activity I enjoy in that public space. Because males are much less likely to be victims of a random sexual or physical assault in public spaces than women are, they may not prove as sensitive to that potential as one might hope, as demonstrated—in the case of the Roanoke River Greenway—by the presence of public bathrooms without doors and locks.This is to say that leisure activity for women “is deeply gendered, both in terms of the spaces and places that young women occupy and their behavior within such spaces” (Green and Singleton 2006, 2).Men engaged in such behaviors are often demonstrating “territorial harassment”—untoward comments ultimately predicated on a view that the public environment in question, whether a street, sidewalk, a subway or a park—is “distinctly male turf” in which, in this view, women do not have the right to act autonomously.In these cases, as these males understand gender roles, women traveling to work or otherwise active in public spaces are outside of their “appropriate” home-sphere, and their goal (conscious or not) is “effectively to drive women back into their private sphere, where they may avoid such violations” (Thompson 1993, 323).