Why do women constantly travel in pairs? It’s the question of the century. We go everywhere is she-packs. To the mall, to the parking lot, to target, down the hall, and to the restroom. It’s not uncommon to hear our potty-pairing scoffed at each time one announces the “need” and the others trickle into line (see what I did there?). So the question is “why?”
To be honest, I’ve never really given it much thought. I don’t really ask my friends to join me on my trip to the bathroom nor do I offer to attend with them if they go. So the thought didn’t really cross my mind unless someone made fun of the “she-pack potty-pairing”. Until today, when it hit me. The “aha” moment. All it took was a screenshot of a worried mother sharing a story about how she was followed and pestered in Dadeland Mall. Another woman was asking her personal questions while she was briefly separated from her husband and alone with her children. Her mom-gut kicked in and she knew something was wrong. After the strange woman asked several times to “help” her get to her husband, and offered to carry her children, meanwhile asking her personal questions about her address, her family, and her phone number, the mother clutched her children tight and ran. And then it hit me, it hit me hard. THIS is why we travel in packs.
It didn’t hit me while I was running around the sketchy parts of downtown Miami or when I was sitting between several police officers and inmates during Mental Health hearings. It didn’t hit me when a strange woman and man with a gun-shaped bulge sticking out of his side asked me for a ride to the Checkers across the street because their car had broken down one night while I was filling my tank. It hit me when my mama-bear instincts were triggered by a fellow mama bear protecting her littles at a mall.
We’ve grown up in a world where we’re taught the buddy system. We use it on field trips, while camping, while we’re traveling. Even as children, we’re taught to hold our “buddy’s” hand while we cross the street. When there’s a perceived danger, however slight, of becoming lost, taken, or hurt, we are taught to use a buddy. Only when we feel more prepared to protect ourselves are we more confident in traveling solo. Even then, using the buddy system is something we fall back on if we’re even subconsciously insecure of our surroundings. Whether it’s a social insecurity or a safety insecurity, the she-pack is something we inadvertently turn to.
How unfortunate that as women, even something as simple as using a public bathroom propels us to travel in groups because deep down we know there is safety in numbers. How unfortunate that we fall prey in shopping malls, parking lots, and empty bathrooms.
Although this may only skim my thoughts on the issue and hit the very tip of the ice on the topic, allow my intent to be very clear. Long live the she-pack. Don’t avoid asking a friend to accompany you for fear of looking like a crazy person for needing a bathroom escort. Don’t shy away from bothering someone to walk you to your car because you forgot something. Never EVER avoid asking someone to join you on a Target run because you don’t want to bug them. There is safety in numbers. There is safety in backpacking around potential witnesses.
Above all, learn how to defend yourself against the evils of this world and teach your children the same. There is so much good but what is good without the small but undimmed presence of evil. Take up Karate, take a kick-boxing class at the gym or a self-defense class at your local community center. If you like to workout from home (which seems to be a flooding trend), throw in an online free self-defense class into the mix. Regardless of your position on gun control, you don’t have to own one, but learn how to use one. You never know if or when you’ll be in a position where you might just have to pull a trigger.
We’ve been taught to fear danger more than we’re taught to spot it, avoid it, and protect ourselves against it. This Holiday season while you’re traveling, shopping, and always, be mindful of your surroundings, listen to your gut, and remember there is strength and numbers, and in a right hook.