Sandwiched between International Women’s Day and Mother’s Day was an uprising of anger, frustration and sadness, in the wake of the death of Sarah Everard.
What happened to Sarah Everard has struck a chord with every single woman, not because abduction and murder are prevalent, but because violence against women is.
I sit here writing this as a woman, who by my own admission, has brushed so much under the carpet for a multitude of reasons and I am not alone. That time when a man put his hands up my skirt in a club, when a ‘friend’ took advantage of me in the back of a taxi after a night out, the time when I was followed home after school and had to bang on someone’s door because I was so terrified…I could go on, but what I am trying to say is, I didn’t report a single one of those incidents and there are millions of women who unfortunately share those same experiences, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t happen. And it certainly doesn’t mean our streets are safe for women.
I think people have resonated so much with what happened to Sarah Everard because it’s the realisation of the fear, hard-wired in all of us, of what could happen. Usually brushed off by most of us as paranoia. The product of an over-active imagination, as you notice someone walking behind you and quicken your step, praying for more streetlights and people, reaching for your keys, ‘just in case’. Unfortunately, it’s not paranoia. The knowledge that men can be predatory and violent is something we live with on a daily basis.
How do we bring about change in the wake of Sarah Everard’s Murder?
Amongst all the courage, bravery and solidarity there are cries of ‘not all men’ doing the rounds on social media – the thing is guys, if you’re reading this, we already know it’s not all men! You’re missing the point; we know it’s not all men, but we don’t know which ones it is, so we end up having to be wary of all men – by necessity.
We all, as women, risk assess our behaviour 24/7, because there is a credible risk of harrassment or violence from men, which is based on past experiences, and the experiences of every woman we know, that we might be in danger.
Sarah did everything we’re taught to do (which is a whole other issue). She let those who were waiting for her know she was on her way home, she took a well lit route, she wore footware that she could run in and bright clothing…but it STILL WASN’T ENOUGH.
And what angers us more than anything about all of these issues, is the silence. The deafening silence.
Now is not the time to sit back and let us fight for basic liberties, alone. Now it’s time for every man to stand with us and start the conversation with their mates, fathers, uncles & colleagues so that we stand a real chance of bringing about change.
By opening up the conversation within male groups and doing your part as a man to help make women feel more comfortable within society you will be helping to ease the terror that women feel on a day-to-day basis.
And lastly, for those reading this who’ve behaved in such a way that a woman has felt threatened by you, it’s not too late to learn, grow, change and alter your ways. Acknowledge your past actions, realise how they’ve affected the women around you, and strive to BE BETTER.
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