Safety for women is a common cause of concern, how can it not be? Can you find me one woman who has not been harassed or felt threatened in some way? From heckling, cat calling, unwanted advances, unsolicited pictures sent online, the wandering hands as you move through a nightclub. It is always something for us, there is unfortunately no avoiding it. Every time you walk into a club you know you will feel the touch of a hand looking for your waist as he moves through the crowd, but isn’t it funny how that hand always seems to slip down to the waist and lower area?
There are not many coincidences in this area, as women know the dangers with every familiarity as they teach each other their day-to-day rituals for keeping safe in this world, because let’s be honest with ourselves; there is no truly safe place for a woman to simply exist.
I know myself that I have had many an opportunity to experience the hard reality of being a woman, from being followed, catcalled, stopped on the street, and have made many pacts with my male friends that allow me to grab their hand and pretend they are my protective boyfriend in public should a man threaten me. For goodness’ sake, I have even bought myself a cheap fake engagement ring for my nights out, because let’s be serious here, some men will not respect a woman’s no, but they will respect a man’s possession.
This is not to say ‘All Men’, I personally do not believe in the ‘kill all men’ and ‘all men’ because it is not all men, most men I know could not even think about making a woman uncomfortable. But it is enough men to ensure that all women have a story to tell about this topic.
Galway has recently found itself having to face this reality as groups of women have been getting harassed more frequently and make people more aware about the importance of maintaining their safety. We walk with our keys between our fingers, but is it enough? I wish it was not true, but we cannot expect the world to change for us, because there is no way of changing things that have always been. Women have always been vulnerable and there is nothing we can do to be 100 per cent safe, but we can walk in groups, learn to defend ourselves, download ringtones to fake a phone-call and carry alarms. Men can be our biggest aid against harassment, men fear and respect other men and will be less likely to approach or harass if you have body of possible protection by your side.
I know that this may be a controversial position to take, but I truly believe in it. My father taught me to fight and defend myself since I was a small child, and unfortunately it is a lesson that I have had to use on more than one occasion. He taught me to grab the wrist and how to bend a persons’ arm so that he is facing away and brought to his knees, giving you time to run, he taught me to break a persons’ arm and which areas of the body to hit hard so that I have an advantage and a better chance to escape. It is something that I will always be grateful for and something that I believe all women should learn.
P.S. Carrying weapons and pepper spray are illegal in Ireland, but a small bottle of hairspray will work as a substitute in a pinch.