Social Norms Essays

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.

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Moreover, Turner’s father publicly insinuated that the victim had placed herself in a dangerous scenario and contended that women should be more careful in the future to avoid such spaces.

These behaviors suggest that some people persist in judging women harshly for using public spaces and that social conventions concerning those norms continue in practice to restrict female freedom of movement and action and, thereby, their civil rights.

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.

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.

The message of such catcalling is that women do not belong in public spaces unaccompanied by a man.

While, in most instances, lewd and vapid remarks remain just that, as ugly and hateful as they may be, they do serve to signal a vague hostility and as a reminder of the constant potential of personal violence to those women so targeted.

The dominant customs of the period expected women to spend minimal time outside their homes, apart from ensuring that responsibilities for the care and management of that dwelling and their children were met.

This social expectation of separate spheres of activity and influence continues to characterize the behavior of some men, and therefore shapes, in turn, how women affected by that male conduct relate to public spaces.


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