We're All Sarah Everard
We're scared, angry and tired.
It’s early evening, you’re enjoying a good time with your friend but suddenly, you remember to check the time. Getting late, you should probably go home, you don’t wanna walk alone in the dark. Thankfully, you’re wearing a bright jacket, low-key leggings and comfy shoes. You’re taking the main road and your partner is waiting for you at home.
If you’re a woman, this scenario must sound painfully familiar. Sarah Everard has been there too. The 33-year-old disappeared on her way home, walking back from a friend’s house through Clapham Common, London, around 9 pm on March 3. She did everything by the book and yet, she is still missing. Meanwhile, the only advice that the Met Police had to give for women was to be ‘careful’ and ‘not to go out alone.’ Like it’s our fault, right?
Well, it’s precisely the opposite. Hundreds of angry women online share their stories of taking multiple ‘preventive measures.’ We change our clothes and shoes, we cross the road, we look around, we run if necessary, we hold our keys in our fits, we share our location with our friends, families and partners. Again, sounds familiar? I’m sure it does. This means that women are not the ones to change but more importantly, as Sarah’s devastating story shows, ‘preventive measures’ are not the answer or the solution to the problem. Educating men is.
On this note, the new frightening statistics by YouGov poll revealed that 97% of women aged 18-24 had been sexually harassed. 80% of women in general, moreover, had experienced sexual harassment in public spaces. While those numbers are absolutely devastating, simultaneously, and unfortunately, they do not surprise me.
Of course, a wave of outraged ‘good guys’ is going to lament in 3, 2, 1 that not all men are like that. Sarah’s story even inspired some of them to ask how they can help women in a situation like Sarah’s and how they should act to make them feel safe(r). Any kind of support and willingness to rip the patriarchy are obviously invaluable, this is just the tip of the iceberg. While men, who keep their comments, hands or distance from us, can make us feel temporarily, or momentarily rather, safer, they are not going to solve the ongoing problem.
Dear men, do you really wanna know how you can help? I wish it should go without saying but let me explain. Read books, educate yourselves. Stop your misogynist banter and sexual objectification. Yes, you’re probably a good guy, you’ve never attacked a woman on a street, the Nobel Prize Peace goes to you. But are you guilty of catcalling? Probably. Have you ever slut-shamed a woman? Highly likely. Let alone sexist jokes, disgusting comments online and non-consensual dick pics. The problem is systematic because so is discrimination. Welcome to patriarchy.
I sympathize with all the women, particularly those living in Clapham, London, who are scared as they have every right to feel this way. But I’m not scared – I’m angry and I’m fucking tired. Tired of going back home before midnight like a 2021 version of Cinderella. Tired of choosing flat shoes when I’m really feeling heels because I might be forced to run away from some creep. Tired of being told to be ‘careful’ because I don’t even know what that means anymore. I know for a fact that Sarah was careful.
So girls, let’s not be careful, let’s be strong together.