Woman Killed on Train for Saying “No”

by Gabrielle Diekhoff

As a woman, my day doesn’t feel quite complete unless at least one graphic, unwarranted sexual comment is made about my appearance by some skeevy dude on the street. If a shadowy figure lurking outside of the subway station doesn’t shout “nice ass!” or “damn!” at me as I pass…did my day actually take place? Or did I dream it? Debatable. What I’m getting at here is that it’s nearly an unreality when a woman or female-bodied individual leaves the house and is able to feel safe and comfortable – or even as if we’re allowed to exist in this world – within our own skin. As I attempt to navigate society within the confines of my female body, I feel like I’ve overcome an obstacle every time I accomplish a task as simple as going to the grocery store in broad daylight; I say to myself, “I made it, I’m safe,” and I tuck the keys which I had wedged between my knuckles for self-defense back into my bag with a sigh of relief.

As unfortunate as this sounds, after a while, a woman grows used to the constant fear that accompanies venturing into public. I board the subway for my work commute every morning wary to an extent, keeping an eye out for anyone whose stare lingers on me for a moment too long, but most of the time, I’m numb to it all. I roll my eyes, I put in my earbuds, and I continue on my merry way. Sure, yeah, there’s a guy on the train threatening to kill anyone that looks at him the wrong way (this is a very real experience I had on the train a few weeks ago), but he won’t actually kill anyone. Sure, a random man just followed me off the train and pestered me for my phone number until I kindly told him to fuck off, but he wouldn’t physically harm me. After all, who would dare cause me harm whilst so many witnesses are around?

After hearing about the fatal stabbing that took place yesterday in Chicago, however, the comfort I once associated with daylight hours and crowded trains has been hijacked from me. Yesterday, around 12:35 p.m. on the southbound CTA Red Line, a man brutally stabbed a young woman multiple times over what numerous media sources, including the Chicago Tribune, are calling a domestic dispute.

Andrea Patterson, a witness who spoke with the Chicago Tribune, said, “I had my headphones on. He asked the young lady a question, she said no, and he got up and started stabbing her. She fell to the floor and he slit her neck.”

Other witnesses said that they heard the two arguing about a child, whom sources have now confirmed was the child of the victim, and the attacker is said to have been her boyfriend, though this has not been confirmed.

I’m struggling to find words to describe how I’m feeling after this heinous incident. The simplest way to put it is to say that I’m absolutely sickened and horrified, though that is still a drastic understatement. This woman had her life taken from her because she told a man “no,” something that I, and women everywhere, have to tell threatening men who intrude our spaces on a daily basis, and something that we should not be afraid to do. 

I’ll end this with a quote from Margaret Atwood that, in light of this crime, has been running through my head incessantly today; “Men are scared of being laughed at, whilst women are scared of being raped, attacked and harassed,” or in this case, murdered. 

Image via Terrence Antonio James for Chicago Tribune

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Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

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