"Surely Allie's not scared, is she?", joked a male colleague as I left work at 8.30pm once, saying "Wow - it's dark out there!".
He, of course, was basing his comment on my known feminism and "attitude" as men call it. But he'd subconsciously told me two things.
1. HOWEVER strong, however "ballsy" a young woman thinks she is, she always needs to take care at night (and automatically does).
2. Men don't.
And that started me thinking: The reason we worry and take care is BECAUSE of men. Perhaps 1 in 20 muggers are women (though, by nightfall, that probably drops), but the REAL risks come from men - who are either drunk or preying on drunken women.
And those real risks don't affect men. Could 1 in 3 million rapists be women? I doubt it. I couldn't imagine it. It's that little think again - the root of all evil - which I'm never sure whether to mention here.
But being careful is automatic, isn't it? Whether you're in Beijing or Bangkok or Birmingham or Boston, we know there are certain things we CAN do, CAN'T do, SHOULD do, and SHOULDN'T do.
How many men think about whether they can walk home safely, worry over a heavy they've seen - or think they've seen - in a car's headlamps, or ensure their belongings are hidden from view beneath their coat? How many wonder if the boy lurking in the shop doorway is drunk, or try desperately not to establish eye contact with the suit at the bus stop?
And then, when you're metres from the station or your front door, a night bus deposits TEN teenage boys looking for action.
"Cor, got the time luv? I mean the time to give me one?"
"Here - I've been waiting for you all my life, luv!"
It's not good enough for people (predominantly men) to say, "oh they're just having fun" or "if they're drunk they couldn't get it up anyway" - or for them to offer to 'escort' you home.
The last thing we want is another man thinking he's helping a damsel in distress.
And don't get me started on building sites and road workers.