*Trigger warning , this post contains topics on abuse, sexual assault and other sensitive issues
Sarah Everard, a 33 year old woman who resided in Brixton, vanished walking home alone at 9:30pm 03/03/2021. Remains, which have been confirmed as Sarah’s as of 12/03/21, have been found in a woodland area in Kent.
97% of young women in the UK have been sexually harassed in their lifetimeUN Women UK survey
This has sparked justified outrage throughout the UK and the rest of the world in regards to the safety of women and most of all, education of men.
Now, this isn’t saying only men can be aggressive and it’s only women that can be victims. No, no, no. Domestic violence towards men is very real, but statistically, women are in more danger to attacks from men, especially when alone.
The reason I am writing this post is because I’m angry, and fucking tired of the constant worry women and feel every single day. Will I get cat called? Will someone touch me without consent? Will I get raped? These are genuine questions I would say most women ask themselves every. single. day. WHY?
Throughout our whole lives we are told, ”don’t have your skirt too high”, ”your boobs need to be covered more”, ”too much make up might give the wrong impression”, and it’s always, always for the distraction of men. Girls in SCHOOL have been sent home for these, so they don’t bother TEACHERS…. Can we not see the problem here?
Protect your daughters? EDUCATE YOUR SONS.
We need to change our language when it comes down to teaching our youth things like consent, sexual health and wellbeing, and straight up being decent human beings. Girls and boys.
Phrases like ”boys will be boys” gross, ”treat them mean, keep them keen” so dangerous, ”asking for it” vomit educing, “I just couldn’t control myself” you’re joking right?
My parents and boyfriend are always reminding me, be careful when you’re out or going to / from work. Women and girls have learned to do things such as, putting keys in between our fingers, not having headphones in, avoid gaps in paths and alley ways, but how far do we have to go? Really?
Tell me truthfully, do you tell your son/boyfriend/husband ect as he’s grabbing his coat, ”don’t go raping any women tonight”, ”make sure you get consent before grabbing a woman’s arse at the bar”, ”if a woman is walking past you today don’t wolf whistle or make her in any way uncomfortable”. Having 1 brief conversation with your laddo whilst also chuckling and making jokes to cut the awkwardness doesn’t cut it I’m afraid. Drill it in them, from a young age. (This also goes to young girls as well, they also should know assault isn’t ok, just because someone is man / masculine does not give an automatic pass to be abusive towards them).
If you are a guy, and have guy friends, have conversations, especially if you know of someone who has or will assault. Let me tell you it hits a whole lot different if your peers are telling you to cut that horrific bullshit out. Make sure they are being called out on their wrong doings, a sly comment at the pub can ruin someone’s whole night or trigger past experiences, cut it out.
Ladies, we are told from day dot all the things we shouldn’t do in order to not make ourselves a ‘victim’. A victim is someone to which something has already happened or is happening to, no matter what precautions have taken place. Sarah’s story is a prime example. She was on the phone to her boyfriend for 15 minutes before going missing, wearing clothing which was by no means ‘revealing’, staying on main roads and even walking into a late night shop. And still, the worst happened. So I ask this, do all these precautions mean anything?
Below are some shots taken from an art gallery at Ohio University Southern, a survivor art instillation called ‘What Were You Wearing?”. This showcases the outfits worn by different people at the time they were assaulted:
As you may have guessed, this exhibit was aptly named as a response a lot of assault survivors face afterwards, ”what were you wearing?”. But this just goes to show, assault can happen no matter what you wear. So let’s bin the phrase ‘wearing that, she must have been asking for it”, nobody asks to be raped.
Something that has come out of this subject matter is the hashtag # notallmen. Now, you’re right, not all men leave their house with the intention of causing discomfort or harm to another person. But was the statistic that I mentioned earlier in this post pulled from thin air? 97% of young women in the UK have been sexually harassed.
If you are a man, and you are reading this thinking, “well I’m one of the good ones, I don’t need to take anything from this”. Yes you do. We don’t know what your intentions are, and we have been conditioned, for our own safety to assume the worst so please, do these things to make us feel safer:
- Unless you have permission, don’t approach us, especially when we are on our own and most importantly, at night
- For the love of god don’t walk closely behind us, it’s nerve-wracking. If you can cross the road and walk ahead, this can put our mind at ease
- Don’t get defensive or angry if we seem uncomfortable, anxious or even go out of our way to exit the situation like walking away, choosing a different path etc.. We’re doing our best to keep ourselves safe, respect that
- We don’t always give consent by literally telling you ”yes, converse with me”, if you get the impression we don’t want to make conversation, go with your gut and leave us alone
- Catcalling, whistling or beeping, no matter the distance, is extremely frightening and uncomfortable. Never do it. Even if your mates dare you to, do the right thing.
- If you notice someone having to deal with any of this, whether you know the perpetrator or not, try and put an end to it immediately, however you can. If you can’t handle a situation yourself, or even have a gut feeling about something / someone you have passed by, call the police, it is better to be safe, than sorry.
This might sound like I am ‘bashing’ men, I shouldn’t really have to explain myself to be honest, but as per the start of this post, this has been a problem for centuries, and unfortunately, this time around, it has taken a life to be lost for voices to be heard. And if you feel offended by it, well you’re part of the problem really.
Things we can do as a society to help prevent the assault on women and marginalised genders:
- If we confide in you about our past or present experience with assault, believe us. Listen to us. Be here for us. There are too many instances where it’s thought someone is screaming for attention or revenge, and that’s very rarely the case
- Take accountability for your actions. Don’t jump on the defence if you have made someone nervous or uncomfortable, even if it was far from your intentions, it’s not your right to tell someone how they should be feeling. Apologise and move along
- Education. For ALL genders. From a young age and throughout their educational years. Especially on consent. There is no ‘grey area’, no ‘blurred lines’. And understanding of the consequences of both the victim and perpetrator. Also valid in the workplace, and creating safe spaces
- Increase prosecution of violence against women and other marginalised genders. Higher penalties for the criminals willing to ruin someone’s life for the sake of their own humour / pleasure.
What happened to Sarah Everard on 3rd March, and to all the other cases of harassment and assault women face every single day should not happen. And if does, there needs to be stricter measures.
Sign the petition for ‘Make public sexual harassment a criminal offence in the UK’ here.
If you are out in public and in need of help, but you cannot ask for it. Do these hand signals above.
There’s so much more I can write on this matter, I could possibly go on for days. But this is my way of speaking out.
Things need to change.