‘Cities are meant to be difficult places of encounter, conflict and dissent. They are always being made and remade. The key is to break free of the corporate control of public space, as well as the public sector apathy; so that creativity and dissent and critique can flourish, and we can let go of fears associated with subversive culture.’ –‘Refitting the Corporate City: Five Principles for Urban Survival’, Paul Chatterton.
‘Space was adumbrated as a product of, and experienced through, bodily movement and psychological and optical projection. Space was interior, enveloping, enclosing, ritually sanctioned and structured by the body’s motion through it. As such, it tended to break down the rigid stylistic categories of architectural history.’ –Architectural Historian: Anthony Vidler.
Entering a shop, (which is a common ground for females- one of the few places we can wander without being instigated) and I roam the aisles looking for something specific. I feel a strong gaze on me, and I acknowledge a man, staring. Each way I turn, he is there, and I become aware of his unsettling focus. I feel so embarrassed, I laugh to myself. I pay and make my way out, forgetting the awkwardness as I leave.
I get to the end of the road, enroute home. I hear a clicking sound, a masculine catcall. I turn around slightly caught by surprise, and he is behind me. I feel a creeping anxious feeling in my stomach and I stop. I get my phone out of my pocket and pretend to be contacting someone- although my phone is dead. He has crossed the road, stops on the island and turns around. Still staring. I start to walk back, and am searching for recognition in the faces of people walking past me- do they realise? Have they noticed? I look through the glass windows of the café, hiding almost, and he is walking towards me.
It’s then that I walk fast, almost running. Back into the crowds, hoping I don’t stand out, hoping I will merge with the other bodies.
By rethinking and reflecting, I feel perhaps I overreacted. But I know I felt stalked, followed. And I am tired of feeling like this city is sometimes not my own.
‘Being born a woman is my awful tragedy. Yes, my consuming desire to mingle with road crews, sailors and soldiers, barroom regulars- to be part of a scene, anonymous, listening, recording- all is spoiled by the fact I am a girl, a female always in danger of assault and battery. My consuming interest in men and their lives is often misconstructed as a desire to seduce them, or as an invitation to intimacy. Yes, God, I want to talk to everybody as deeply as I can. I want to be able to sleep in an open field, to travel west, to walk freely at night.’ –Sylvia Plath