We Just Want to Walk Home in the Dark | ‘#NotAllMen’ & Harassment

We Just Want to Walk Home in the Dark | '#NotAllMen' & Harassment

TRIGGER WARNING – sexual assault & harassment

It’s been a really tough week. I am angry and tired and just in a constant state of anxiety. Every time I open social media or turn on the news, there’s women discussing their sexual harassment and assault stories, sharing our shared trauma. If you’ve been online in the past week, you’ll know the clincher – that it’s our fault, the women’s fault, of course. Women do not take enough precautions to avoid being harassed, assaulted, or raped. At least, that’s a lot of the discourse that’s being shared in response to women’s stories…

For those of you not in the UK, our news has been centered around the missing person’s case of Sarah Everard. Sarah was walking home from a friend’s house at 9pm at night and vanished, despite doing all of the things women have been told to do to keep safe when walking home alone at night.

She was wearing bright clothes, phoned someone she knew, wore sensible shoes, walked a lit path, wore layers, had her hair down – everything women are told to do when they walk home alone. But she was still kidnapped, abused, and murdered. This case took hold of a spark that has always been lit, and has turned into an uncomfortable, important, and searing fire online. Violence against women, no matter how ‘big’ or ‘small’ people may deem actions to be, has always been a discourse, and had ebbed and flowed in the public interest as long as humans have been alive. But now, this has been blown wide open. 

Right now, you cannot go on social media without seeing stories, voices, graphics, trauma, and truth at every turn. Shared experiences are in abundance; being groped in a bar, stared at on public transport, catcalled from a car, followed on the way home. People are opening up about their personal ordeals of assault, harrassment, rape, sustained abuse. These stories need to be said and heard and to make a noise, no matter how painful they are to read. The support from other women has been incredible to see, to know we are not alone in this trauma is reassuring, despite knowing this trauma shouldn’t exist.

But, of course, what is rhetoric on women’s rights and safety, if men and their feelings don’t get involved?

Amongst the honesty and difficult conversations that are being had, you cannot move for the damn unnecessary comments. Here are some examples of my favourite (aka least favourite). 

  • “Excuse me, I think you’ll find that not all men harass or assault women. I’m actually a feminist.” 
  • “Naaah no way 97% of women have been harassed by men, that’s such an overreaction.” 
  • “Oh no, that’s so awful. Maybe you shouldn’t walk home alone, especially in a dress?” 
  • “People really need to educate their daughters.” 
  • “This generalisation of men being predators is so bad for men’s mental health.” 
  • “Honestly, some of these girls aren’t attractive enough to be harassed imo”. 

Whilst some of these comments are more oblivious, and some are examples of true nastiness and misogyny, all are missing the POINT.

These comments make it sounds like women are only assaulted by the Mysterious Misogyny Monster, who only comes out in dark alleys, and only preys on supermodels who wear heels and a short skirt, as opposed to harassment and assault being a systemic problem. 

Hand on my heart, I do not know of one person who identifies as a woman who has not been harassed or assaulted. I’m talking friends, family members, colleagues, strangers I’ve met in a club bathroom. Genuinely, finding a woman who has not been harassed by a man is like finding the lost city of Atlantis. Do you know what? I’ve been harassed too many damn times to count. The horrible push of a man against a crowded bar, a grope and a grab on the dancefloor, the slowing down of a car that shouts obscenities – these happen too often to count. I’ve been followed home by a stranger on at least five occasions, two of which approached me to ask for my number or to invite me home and didn’t listen to my response of ‘no’. I’ve had to push men away from me, not listening to me say I’m not interested, only to have them dissipate when my boyfriend appeared from the bar, thanks to a culture of male ownership. But that doesn’t even stop men – I was assaulted by one of our shared ‘friends’ when he knew my boyfriend was literally just out of eyeline. 

I don’t walk home alone in the dark. I change my plans. I don’t get a taxi. I instinctively pull down my hem. I don’t drink enough to get drunk. I don’t solo travel. I triple lock my door. I don’t go to a bar alone. I don’t do what I want by myself. I am stressed and on-guard everytime I leave the house. Spring, summer, autumn, winter, morning, evening, dead of night. My teeth are clenched, my shoulders tight, hands wrapped around my keys. I try to look stern to not look like an easy target, but not too stern in case someone tells me to smile. I am ready to throw a punch, but gentle enough to not cause offence, because causing offence could get me killed. 

If you chose to not believe this has happened to almost every woman, you are a part of the problem. It’s not hard to simply believe us. Believe that there is an issue, believe us. When we say ‘men’ – ‘men are awful’, ‘I can’t walk home because of men’, ‘men have harassed me’ – don’t get offended. It’s great if you haven’t assaulted a woman, gold star for you bud, but it’s not about you. Don’t say “WELL, I’ll let you know #NotAllMen do this.” Shhhhhhhhhhhh. Please. 

Here’s the thing about #NotAllMen. Most wasps don’t sting you. Some will. But we cannot tell the difference, so we say ‘watch out, there’s a wasp’ because we don’t know if the wasp will sting us or not. But we don’t say #NotAllWasps, do we?

You might be a good human, who is a feminist, who walks your friends home at night, who has never harrassed or assaulted a woman. Wonderful. Thanks, we appreciate it.  But you’ve got to address the fact you may be complacent in letting violence against women thrive. I can guarantee you know a man who has harassed or assaulted a woman. As you read this, no-one may come to mind. Or a friend might pop into your head, who ‘means well’, ‘is just being a lad’, or ‘just made a mistake’. If you see someone spouting rape jokes, pestering a woman, making someone uncomfortable, and you do not act; you are a part of the problem. 

Not every man has assaulted a woman. But without men calling out other men’s behaviour, women will still be stalked, harassed, shouted at, assaulted, abused, and killed. There’s only so much we, as women, can do to avoid being assaulted. And Lord knows we’ve tried everything. We just want to be safe. We just want to walk home in the dark.

Rosie x

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A twenty something creative mess, talking all things midsize, travel, health, & creativity ✨ Plant mum, illness warrior, and blogger based in Winchester, UK 🌍

22 thoughts on “We Just Want to Walk Home in the Dark | ‘#NotAllMen’ & Harassment

  1. Yes I 100% agree with you and the whole matter has irked me even more than it does as a woman on a daily basis. Men really need to understand where the real issue lies. Maybe they aren’t rapists or sexual predators but are they standing behind us? No. They’re just trying to say they’re not abusers. Like ok? But we’re the ones who feel unsafe being alone in quiet places or when it gets dark. Of course some men get abused too and it should be addressed, but we’re trying to bring to light the issues we face every single day of our lives.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thanks for the comment! I agree, it was so disheartening to see it trending. Even if it was a mindset you may have been guilty of in the past, as long as you are learning and standing up now, that’s the important bit ✨

      Of course, please do share/reblog!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The most disappointing tweet I’ve seen has been from Davina McCall being extremely misogynistic and saying that women sharing their stories is fear-mongering, that extreme violence is rare 😤😤😤
    Read the facts Davina! Read the real stories from every single women, be cause it has happened to everyone! Public figures like Davina, using her voice like that is so dangerous and gives men a reason not to make a difference.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. With the Sarah Everard case you realise as a woman regardless of where you live in the world, you are vulnerable to predators and system will protect them rather than you.

      So many times in a conversation with my friends/strangers you don’t know when the “normal nothing” harassment leads to violent behaviour and when in the time do you report it. If you report it early “well, you are still alive”. The systemic injustice to women are more visible when you see the statistics of violence against women convictions.

      Like you said we just want to walk home in the dark without getting murdered. It’s that simple.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. There’s definitely way too much silence surrounding violence and contempt of women. Evil, rage-filled men who use their hands and private parts as assault weapons against women is an epidemic.

    The hatred against women often starts in the homes of males when they are little boys, but how many families are actually addressing and training their sons correctly, in particular fathers?

    How many fathers are setting a righteous example and showing their sons how to value and respect women? Some fathers seem a lot more interested in their sons playing football or some kind of sports successfully than training them to be decent human beings capable of and willing to love and respect women.

    I think that many men like to keep quiet about stuff that brings reproach on members of their gender. Too often they are silent about the violence, the sexual assault, and physical assault of women. That is a shame, because everyone should care and do something on behalf of God, on behalf of women, and on behalf of humanity in general.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Spineless, coward males do this stuff. Parents need to understand that they have sons who are walking around with violent, rage-filled sentiments toward women at an early age.

    They have boys who right now are walking around with violent fantasies. They’re in their parent’s basements doing things they have no business doing. Some of them are discovering their father’s pornography as well. Yet they go largely unmonitored.

    Boys are given too much free reign and not monitored closely enough. Parents claim how easy boys are, but it is easy to say that boys are easy to raise when you don’t raise them. That’s why they are easy- they don’t get enough training.

    Mothers are happy they don’t have to comb their son’s hair. Fathers and mothers are happy that their sons can’t get pregnant. But who’s training their sons in the right way?

    Who is rebuking and renouncing violence against women to their sons when their sons are very young and from then on? In addition, evil societal influences are not counteracted enough by fathers.
    More fathers and men need to start CARING.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is such an important conversation, thanks for writing this post! I’ve also being finding news and social media overhwelming the past week or so. But at the same time I know how important it is that we are able to have a conversation about this. Even so, I just feel completely exhausted. And the ‘not all men’ folks are an absolutely joke. It’s like they want a medal for not harassing a woman as if that’s not expected from them in the first place and they deserve extra credit.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. As someone who was abused by two different men, the first being over a four-year period (2006-2010), seeing stories like Sarah’s is so scary and disheartening. It’s 2021 for fuck’s sake – Men need to do better. My husband agrees with me, and I’ve always been grateful that I’ve been with a man that respects women and thinks all of this is disgusting. I wish there were more of them in this world.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m old now and my husband has only in the past few years finally understood why I get so worked up every time we have to have a workman come to fix something. I have to let these strangers into my house and, yes, “not all” of them scared the crap out of me, but I would say it’s 50%. I’ve been hit up multiple times over the years, in my own home. No I don’t want to sleep with you. I want my tap to stop flooding the kitchen. It’s so bad, my husband and I have started trying to learn how to do as much work ourselves as we can. In the last few years he was still working, my husband finally got how terrified I was, and he would take the day off work to babysit the trades people.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh goodness, it’s so awful! I feel the same; I just feel so tense if there’s a worksperson in the house who I don’t know, purely because I don’t know what their actions could be. Thank you for your comment and sharing your experience ❤

      Like

  8. Thank you so much for sharing this post. I know that many people have found this very triggering, but you really explain it all so well.

    A few years ago I was also walking home in Clapham and on the phone to my partner when I was attacked by a stranger.

    When it was reported in the media, the headline was ‘well dressed man sexually assaulted screaming woman’

    Both my attacker and I had been wearing suit trousers, a shirt and a jacket. The phrasing entirely minimised the terror I faced and the violence that this man enacted upon a total stranger.

    There are however, many things I am thankful for:
    Two strangers living nearby bravely intervened and protected me, the police managed to locate and sentence the attacker for the sa and kidnap within the month, my friends and family never made me feel like a helpless victim and joined me in my recovery.

    Over the last month or so stories of what I went through have been re-circulating under ‘trending story’ sections and although awareness is important, I have seen many articles getting the phrasing wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, and I am so sorry for what you’ve had to go through. The media and the government have so much internal misogyny they need to urgently work on. Minimising the victim’s experience is so harmful. You are so strong to have been able to put your story online – just know having your words out there will help someone. You might not know them, but it will.

      Like

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