Okay, so this is hard to even find the words to write and express my feelings but while the Sarah Everard case is being discussed it feels a prominent time to talk about this matter. As after all, harassment from men is most definitely something that twenty-something year old women and all females deal with on a disgustingly regular basis. This is hard to write and I feel my heartache for all women right now, as we are united by the fact of society still not understanding the fear we so often face.
Social media has blown up over the past few days discussing stats and experiences. Women are feeling free and even empowered by telling their stories of trauma and feeling comfort in others relating. How awful is that? Women are feeling comfort knowing they aren’t alone, which then leads to an exceptional amount of discomfort at how ‘normalised’ harassment is. The stat that hit me hard was that 97% of young women have been sexually harassed, ninety seven percent, it makes me sick to my stomach. Even though, I myself have faced this, I felt as though I could never really make a big deal of it because I felt like perhaps I was being dramatic or was looking into it too much.
Harassment comes in so many forms.
I so vividly remember a time in a club when a boy tried to kiss me and I did not want to so tried to walk away and he grabbed my hair and pulled me back to him. I ended up pushing him really hardly away and ran to my boyfriend at the time, because I felt safe then. He even made out like I was being dramatic – safe to say he is now an ex. This is just the tip of the iceberg of what people go through.
Cat calling is another thing, it terrifies the shit out of women. You are walking along and someone is shouting or whistling at you, being noticed by a man when out alone is so so so scary and makes your heart sink to the bottom of your chest at the fear of what could come next. Even a man walking behind you, this is so triggering and there has been so many times I have been walking and planning scenarios of what to do if someone came up to me.
Another thing, clothing. Do you know how many times I have changed my outfit for a night out because I am scared of men staring at my chest or saying inappropriate things to me. So often my gals will be like wow you have great cleavage you should get it out more and the thought itself makes me feel sick. It makes me so scared if I was to be on my own for any part of the night and men thinking me enjoying my body and complimenting it with clothes I love is an invite to approach me or worse. So, so sad.
There are even TikTok trends out there for women, for if they don’t feel safe. They are fake phone calls with a man to deter other men harassing you because after all a man respects another man more than a woman saying no right? Is that not why we say we are married or have a boyfriend to finally get rid of a man harassing us in a bar or on the streets.
This Sarah Everard case has brought so much to light. This is a case where victim blamers cannot say anything about her clothes, her route, her choices. She was wearing walking clothes, took the light route, called her partner. She was just. walking. home. Alas, I know they still will blame but that says everything about the journey we, as a society, must continue on.
We, as women, cannot explain to you how often we feel terrified when alone outside. We cannot explain that sweaty palmed, shaky legs, heart pounding, tear inducing fear we have all felt, by just living our life and having a man approach us.
We are scared, we are saddened, we want to feel safe.
Growing up as a woman, when being anywhere in public alone you are constantly thinking of items you could use as weapons, the houses you could knock on, the shops that are open for you to go into for help. Doing that is something we have had instilled into us from a young age. We are always told to ‘be careful’, ‘don’t do this, don’t do that’, ‘make sure you are always with someone’, ‘keep your wits about you’ etc. Why is our gender not allowed to just… live our life like men are? For a society that has come a long way, we have not come far enough. Changes must be made. Men need to educate themselves on how to help women feel safe. Women need to stop being blamed for the actions of men.
I am thinking of every single woman right now, my love goes out to you. We are in this together.