Re: I'd love some advice on this...

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Posted by Paul Cerra on May 23, 2002 at 18:21:23:

In reply to: I'd love some advice on this... posted by Alissa on May 23, 2002 at 16:09:58:

Hi Alissa,

let me offer you my point of view. I'm going to try to show your
husband's perspective before I switch over to taking your side.

Your husband may be acting a bit overprotective, but he is not acting
entirely without reason. Men have a rather paradoxical relationship
with personal safety. On the one hand, they are often dismissive of
their own safety, feeling that "it can't happen to me." This feeling
often lasts until they meet a woman and begin a relationship, because
it's then that a man sees firsthand "how the other half lives" -- how
she won't park her car in a dark lot; how she won't walk alone at
night; even how she prefers upper-level apartments to those on the
first floor (sorry, Brits -- ground floor for you) because they are
perceived as being less accessible to prowlers. Once he has someone
in his life who he cares about, he drops the feeling of
invulnerability and switches into "protector" mode.

Violent crime is predominantly directed against women. Since the
readership of this forum is predominantly female, I'm not making any
major announcement here. But if you don't already know, most women
who are victims of violence are attacked by people that they know --
family members, boyfriends, husbands, even their children. It is much
more rare for a woman to be attacked by a stranger. (This is why,
when a wife is attacked, the husband is always a suspect.) When they
do happen, these crimes (so-called "stranger-on-stranger crimes") are
the most difficult to solve, and they are also the most personally
devasting to the victim (if she survives) and her relatives, because
these crimes are often very violent and sexual in nature.

Can you guess what many FBI agents and law enforcement professionals
believe is the single most dangerous LEGAL profession for women in
America? I said legal, so don't guess prostitute. Construction
worker? Traffic cop? Crab-boat fisherwoman? Nope. It's real-estate
agent. Why? Because, like prostitutes, these women get into cars with
strangers. They allow themselves to be alone with strangers. They go
to secluded, deserted locations for lengthy periods of time in the
company of strangers. And they do it every day.

In some ways, a henna artist making house calls is not all that
different. Her clientele is somewhat transient; she is available at
short notice; she is willing to travel to unfamiliar locations; she
must focus her attention on her job rather than on her personal
safety; and she may often be alone with strangers.

So my point is that it's not unreasonable for your husband to be
fearful for you. But there is a difference between being fearful and
paranoid, and it sounds like he might be getting a bit close to the
latter. Now let's look at it from your perspective.

First of all, there ARE differences between henna artists and real-
estate agents, despite my attempts to make them sound similar. For
one thing, the henna artist isn't getting into cars with strangers.
She doesn't go to a series of empty, deserted buildings with
strangers; she goes to a single address in a presumably inhabited
neighborhood. And finally, because henna is a predominantly female
activity, she is more likely to be in the company of women than with
men. So while there are potential reasons for your husband to worry
about your choice of business, there are an equal number of reasons
for him to be comforted by it.

Alissa, you've got every right to have your own business, and you
have every right to act as you see fit. You've clearly tried to
minimize the risks, and you've tried to assuage your husband's fears.
So what it is coming down to, as it usually does, is a tradeoff: are
you going to stop living your life so that you can have a 100% chance
that you won't fall victim to a stranger-on-stranger crime? Or are
you going to try to be as safe as possible while realizing that you
live in an unsafe world that you can't completely control? I think we
all know the answer to that.

Therefore, the best advice I can give you is just to pay attention to
your personal safety -- which you are already doing, it seems. A cell
phone is a valuable asset if you don't already have one. Trust your
instincts -- do not suppress them. It sounds like you've already
learned to do that by listening for "red flags" when setting up
appointments. Let people know where you are going to be, and give
them a specific time when you will return -- something it sounds like
you're already doing. None of this can *guarantee* your safety, but
it will reduce the risks. In the end, we all take risks each day just
by being alive, and the tradeoff to eliminating those risks entirely
would be to stop living. And that's just not an answer!



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