Friday, December 07, 2012


My aunt has lived in Brooklyn for decades and never been mugged. She attributes it to her attitude. I'm not sure exactly what her method is, but for years I've tried to copy it. When I transitioned from the suburbs to the city, I decided that this meant not interacting with strange men.

At first, I applied the same method to walking around at the jail. Passing men in the yard or in hallways, I stared resolutely ahead, ignoring them. I hoped this would make me look like I knew what I was doing. I did the same in the neighborhood outside.

I soon realized it method just made me look scared. And it must feel insulting for a man on a street in South Boston, or in a jail for that matter, to see a white woman in business clothes refusing to meet his eyes. Trying to pretend he's not there, regarding his very presence as a threat.

If someone on the street wants to mug me, they'll do it. Ignoring them is not going to stop them. And all those other people who have no interest in mugging me – we might as say hello when we pass. We might as well say, “Good morning.” We might as well smile.

As if we are not afraid of each other. As if we are just people, walking.


Anonymous said...

I think mugging is less common than you think, especially on busy streets with lots of other people around.

Julia Wise said...

I work in a not-busy area of Southie. The crime rate is fairly high.