The death of Sarah Everard has sent shockwaves around the UK. More and more women have came forward with their experiences of street harassment and their stories involving times where someone has made them feel unsafe while walking home. As these stories were being shared so was a new hashtag. #notallmen.
As a statement the hashtag itself isn’t one to argue with as it is true not all men are attackers. However, the issue with the hashtag is that it is primarily being used under female victim’s stories about sexual violence and aggression they have suffered as a way to say ‘yeah that has happened to you but not all men are attackers so why are you so scared?’ If you have been a victim of sexual aggression, regardless of what gender you are it would be only natural to feel afraid that it may happen again or to be scared around unknown people that fit a similar description as your attacker.
If a large dog was to attack and bite you you would most likely be wary around all unknown dogs as a precaution, victims being wary around people similar to their attacker is for the same reason. It is for their own protection, they are trying to avoid a similar situation happening again.
As part of my research into this topic I asked my social media followers four questions, two were for women to reply to only and two were for men to reply to only. The questions were ‘what is something you’re afraid to do due to the actions of men?’ and ‘what is something you’re afraid to do due to the actions of women?’ I asked both genders these questions and the results were varied. The response numbers were low for both males and females as people may not have felt comfortable discussing this topic which is understandable, however the results I did find painted a clear picture.
When asked what women were afraid to do due to the actions of men they said they were afraid to go to nightclubs out of fear of being spiked, to walk anywhere alone especially at night, to wear revealing clothing and to use public transport and taxis by themselves. When I asked men the same question about other men the responses were even fewer but did reveal that some of the men that responded were afraid to approach a girl in a pub or club out of fear that they would be seen as a potential attacker. When I asked girls what were they scared to do due to the actions of other girls they said they were scared to be themselves without being judged or made fun of- there was no mention of any fears of physical attacks even though women have the capability to be sexually violent too. When I asked men the same question about girls they were once again scared to engage with a girl in fears of being seen as a potential attacker- there was no mention of fears of a women attacking them.
So what is some easy grass root level ways we can help make both men and women feel more comfortable in our streets and social areas and address these fears?
Things Men Could Do To Make Women Feel Safer:
Offer to walk female friends home/ take a taxi or bus with them or call them while they travel so they’re not completely alone
Respect a rejection instead of persistently attempting to flirt or contact a girl after she has said or shown that she isn’t interested
Stop touching women’s backs and hips if you need to get passed them in a crowded area
If you do see a woman you don’t know out alone don’t offer to walk them home as that will scare them more than being alone will
Cross the street away from a woman if you see a woman out alone so they know you’re not following them
If you see anyone acting in a suspicious or harmful way call them out and intervene
Don’t show aggression if you have been rejected
Don’t become a girl’s friend in hopes they’ll get with you. Make your intentions clear from the start and see if a romantic or platonic relationship naturally forms
Don’t take part in cat calling it’s a terrifying experience for women especially since it usually involves sexual remarks being shouted at them instead of ‘compliments’ that many men claim they shout
If you see someone spike a person’s drink tell them and tell a bouncer/ bartender or any other relevant authority figure present
Things Women Can Do To Make Men Feel Safer:
If you aren’t interested in them reject them politely and respectfully instead of using insults about their character/ looks against them
Call out those that have genuinely lied sexual assault/ domestic abuse accusations (but remember there is a difference between lying and the accused being found not guilty)
Call out women that fake pregnancies etc in order to trap men in relationships
And if you see a woman try act sexually aggressive/ spiking a drink or making a man clearly uncomfortable in the ways described previously, follow the same advice given to men and intervene
Anyone can be impacted by sexually motivated violence, manipulation and abuse or inflict it and it’s important to remember that. In this time both men, women and everyone else in between need to stand unified against those that take part in predatory behavior- not argue over statistics and hashtags. These are only some small basic ways to solve a much bigger and complicated issue but if even one person takes a positive message from the advice given and passes it on it could make a huge difference going forward.