Many writers, from Walter Benjamin to Guy Debord and Henry David Thoreau have treated the subject of walking and its relationship to thought and creativity. In this work, the researcher builds on this tradition through a consideration of gender and violence in cities. Insisting that walking is both a political and creative act for women, the researcher here revives the concept of the Flaneuse, and asks, is this still an impossible/purely literary figuration, even after one hundred years? What does the impossibility of the flaneuse say about women's rights? Through investigating the biographies and claims of women writers such as George Sand, Rebecca Solnit and Simone De Beauvoir, the researcher explicitly links aimless, solitary walking and the creative process, and asks whether, in restricting women's embodied movement, we don't also restrict their creative freedom?
This essay is a contribution to women's writing about walking. Female writers who have treated the subject of walking include Rebecca Solnit, Cate Kennedy, Laura Kipnis, and George Sand. Scholarly writing on the subject considers how shopping malls constrain the walking woman subject for commercial gain. This essay combines biography, literary analysis and personal narrative, and is also part of an ongoing conversation about women and access to public space. Written in the aftermath of a Melbourne woman's murder, it continues the researcher's work on responding to crisis, and using creative work– specifically creative nonfiction– to intervene in public discourse. The work explicitly responds to Victoria police' assertion that women should stay home, catch private cars, or deploy a buddy system to stay safe. As such it is a creative response that is both personal, and provides historical context and deploys Lopate's movement from the personal to the universal in investigating its subject.
Significance: This work was published in The Monthly, a nationally distributed magazine
Publication classificationJO3 Original Creative Works – Textual Work