A little late due to a last minute topic change and some delays in the world of Ross.
Read time – 4 minutes
Violence Towards Women – Men’s Problem to Fix
Sarah Everard was walking home from a friend’s house when she went missing. Her body was later found with a police officer being charged with her kidnap and murder. Sarah’s death has sparked a vitally important conversation about women’s safety in our society.
I’m a young man (22) and I’m 6”2’ (188cm). I don’t feel scared walking home on my own. I don’t feel worried being out after dark. I don’t think twice about listening to music while I walk. I don’t hold my keys in my hands in case I need a weapon. I run wherever and whenever I want. I don’t look for, or plan escape routes. I don’t lock my car doors when driving. I don’t remember shops I can duck into on my commute. I don’t text people when I get home safe. I don’t worry when I get into an Uber. I don’t feel nervous when I walk past groups of men. People don’t cat-call at me in the street. I’ve never felt threatened when someone has made a sexual advance towards me. Not one of my group chats exploded last week with friends sharing stories about when they felt unsafe in public.
These are all privileges afforded to me because I’m a man.
I was hesitant to write about this subject. This is a time for women – especially young women – to share their stories and educate those of us who don’t feel threatened once outdoors.
However, this isn’t a women’s issue. Women are victims here. Men are the perpetrators.
Men are cat-calling, sexually harassing, raping, abusing, following, threatening, belittling, disrespecting and creating an environment where women don’t feel safe.
A study showed that 97% of young women have experienced sexual harassment. Just 1.7% of reported rapes are prosecuted. And 3 out of 4 sexual assaults aren’t even reported (although this could be much higher).
We are completely and utterly failing to protect women from violence. This is happening every single day, and very little is being done to fix the situation.
How can we work to solve this problem? I’m not sure on what the best course of action is, but we can:
- First and foremost, listen to women. Hear their stories. Understand their experiences. Look to them for ways we can fix this issue. Take their advice on how you can conduct yourself to stop them from feeling uncomfortable.
- As men, fix the glaring issues we have in terms of harassment (cat calling etc); call out our mates when they cross the line in public or with jokes; think about our actions at night (don’t follow); think about the porn we’re watching; challenge instances when someone is stepping out of line and making a woman uncomfortable; make absolutely certain we’re acting appropriately when interacting with girls; educate ourselves on consent; amplify ideas we think would make women safer and discuss these issues with your mates.
- Encourage women to learn Jiu-Jitsu – A close friend of mine suggested that saying women should learn self-defence is adding to the narrative that it is somehow their fault/problem to fix. I do not feel that way at all. This is a male problem. However, women aren’t safe therefore must have tools to defend themselves. The most reliable and effective Martial Art for women is Jiu-Jitsu. And, in my opinion, the gold standard of this is the Women Empowered Gracie Jiu-Jitsu course I’m currently working through with my girlfriend. It covers everything from grip breaking to worst-case scenarios, such as someone trapping both wrists in mount position.
In many situations, Jiu-Jitsu may not help. However, as I’m writing this, there’s probably a woman somewhere on Earth with two male hands around her throat. There are a number of techniques which she could use to protect herself – these are only an option is she’s taken the time to learn them.
It’s been an intense week. Much has been said, and there’s obviously a lot of work to be done. The number of conversations I’ve had with my male friends on this topic has been encouraging, but we have a tall mountain to climb.
Daniel Sloss on transgression – A Scottish comic discussing how one of his friends was raped by another. His male friend had exhibited signals before the crime was committed and Daniel suggests he could have done more to stop it. It’s a powerful monologue and reminds us of what happens when you stand by and don’t take action. (I’m sorry I can’t get a better quality version of this).
Eve Torres Gracie on Jiu-Jitsu – Eve is a legend. She’s the wife of Rener Gracie – a highly respected Jiu-Jitsu coach, and has optimised Gracie Jiu-Jitsu for women’s self-defense. This video breaks down the ideas and philosophies you find in the Women Empowered course.
Violence Against Women – It’s a Men’s Issue – A TED talk summed up in the title. Give it a watch.
Listen to your female friends and relatives. Watch their IG stories. Read their comments. Recognise how they’re feeling.
“Where there is no struggle, there is no strength” – Oprah Winfrey
Has this week changed your views on women’s safety, or reinforced what you already knew?
Thanks for reading this. If I missed anything/have misunderstood the situation, please let me know. This is a subject where I have a lot to learn.
There won’t be a Patterson Post this weekend. I have a big subject I want to write and research properly.
There might be a blog post depending on how productive my next few days turn out to be.
Be safe out there.