Every three days, a woman is murdered by a man. As many as 93 per cent of women say they have been subjected to sexual assault. For centuries, women have been the butt of the joke – forced to bend under the will of men. We will try everything we can to keep ourselves safe, but at the cost of our own quality of life. This International Women’s Day, we need men to become allies.
Why must it always be down to women to be our own protectors?
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for women being independent and not needing to rely on men. But it’s not too much to ask for a little help. Not that we should even have to ask. Not in the shining ‘white knight’ way that would make any feminist vomit in her mouth a little, but in the sense that we’re just asking for a bit of backup. Because as much as we’d hate to admit it, we can’t do it alone. We’ve tried all the tips and tricks, the self-defence and the scepticism. Sadly, it’s not enough. We need men to have our backs. We need allies who will keep an eye out if we look like we’re struggling or unsafe. They must step in because they actually care, NOT because of some twisted hero complex points.
Women don’t want to hear ‘top five tips’ on how to protect themselves. We want men to call out their friends who don’t understand the meaning of ‘no’. We need better education that teaches men about consent, intersectional oppression and how it renders particular groups more vulnerable to sexual harassment and violence than others.
You know the ones. Sometimes their jokes are a little too serious, or they get a bit too handsy. They don’t hear ‘no’, but ‘push harder’. Yeah, those guys. It’s exhausting having to watch our own backs whilst trying to live our lives. We refuse to see our sisters violated with nothing being done to stop it. We are so sick of seeing yet another woman’s face plastered on the news.
Take stalking, for example. A seemingly harmless act in the eyes of the law. Stalking via Airtag has become the latest and most effective way to do it. An invention used to find lost luggage, this method has been manipulated for the means to stalk women and other vulnerable people, whilst from the comfort of their your home. Most of the time, the perpetrators remain anonymous and untraceable. It’s scary how easy it is to stalk someone nowadays. And of course, women are again the most vulnerable to this. But when the issue is taken to the police, remain ignorant, stating that the law hasn’t caught up with technology yet.
It doesn’t help that those in the law enforcement system who usually tackle online abuse/stalking, are men. Men who don’t understand the gravity of the situation. Who don’t know how violating it can feel for women when they are told that there isn’t anything that can be done because no laws were breached.
When it comes to women’s safety, the law stays silent. When one of their own murdered Sarah Everard; their advice, according to the ex-Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Cressida Dick, was to “not go out late at night” or “call a friend”. Once again, shifting the blame onto women rather than men. Or a police force that turns a blind eye to the warning signs, then claiming ignorance when it’s too late.
We are sick and tired of being told that we are the issue, instead of questioning how men are acting as catalysts for fuelling violence against women. We are demanding better from them.
This International Women’s Day, we all should take it as an opportunity to remind ourselves how we can be better: better advocates, better allies and a better society overall. Yes, we don’t like being underestimated, but we don’t like being kicked to the curb either.