The past few weeks the internet has been a space of anger, pain, and education.
Sarah Everard has sparked a chord with so many women.
I’ve seen people share their own stories, traumas, and fears at the societal construct that they have no choice but to live in.
So, is this how it is forever going to be? eternally connected by fear.
It doesn’t make sense, not being able to walk home alone.
Go from A to B without an overwhelming feeling of dread flood your body.
From a young age -women are thought of ways in which they can keep themselves safe, little things to help you get back to your safe place.
Going to the shop past nine becomes a daily battle. Is my phone fully charged? What am I wearing? who will I meet?
These are questions that spin around our heads, like a survival instinct.
I’ve worked in pubs and restaurants since I was 16 years old.
Different setting, but always the same type of character.
‘’That’s just how he is!”,
“there’s no threat there”,
“that’s just his demeanour”.
“Don’t make a scene, we’ll talk about it later”.
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had unsolicited hands down my back,
gawking eyes on my chest, or had inappropriate comments whispered in my neck.
These are just surface-level experiences.
A drop in the ocean of a whirlpool of intrusion.
I honestly can’t remember a time when I didn’t have this self-preservation.
I look back at youth discos and I remember that feeling of dread, that luring feeling crawling up and nesting inside my head.
An enclosed space full of hormonal teens.
Unsolicited hands, gawking eyes, championed yells instead of whispers.
You wouldn’t dare question someone grabbing your bum or pulling in your neck.
This means they like you! this is what you wanted, that’s why you dressed like that?
This is carried out into normal schoolyard behaviour.
These teens grow into men, these men into a female’s number one fear trigger.
Women make themselves smaller in order to blend in.
Smaller and smaller, inadvertently learning.
This is just the society we are in?
Sexual assault is the norm, that uneasy feeling becomes easier to conceal.
Smile, laugh it off, don’t make him uncomfortable for his crud behaviour.
And no not every man, but every woman has a story like mine.
Taking longer routes home, memorizing car plates, remain calm, don’t be too persevering.
Make yourself smaller in order to make it home safe.
These are just basic female survival instincts.
I can imagine so many scanning through this and thinking,
“There are bigger things going on!”,
“It’s not that bad!”,
“It’s not every man!?”
Instead of being triggered by women telling the world they are scared,
why not pause and just ask…?
Were there signs in my mate’s behaviour?
Would I call out my group’s casual misogynistic behaviour?
What can I do to make the experience of my mum, sister, or friend’s life a little bit easier?
I am not saying we are going to change the world overnight.
These problems are so deeply rooted in what we perceive to be a normal life.
Maybe start with leaving out the catcalling or beeping your horn at a girl at night.
I can confidently say on behalf of all women, this is not a flattering exchange nor a charming tryst.
It drives us to make fake phone calls, clench our fists till they are white, it has our hearts pounding against our chests thinking this could be the night.
Why is the narrative always ‘’what was she doing alone at night?” and not “why did he prevent her getting home safely tonight?”