Not all men, but all women
Sarah Everard was a 33 year old woman who disappeared as she was walking home in London on March 3. A week later, she was found to be dead, despite all of the safety precautions she made sure to do just for walking home. Her murder has started a conversion all over the world about women’s safety.
Everard used all the tactics women are taught to know from a young age. She made sure to walk on a well-lit street that was more populated, she wore bright clothing, she wore running shoes, just in case, and she told her boyfriend when she was leaving. None of these things saved her.
There are so many dangers in this world a woman has to go through for simply just existing, and progress is still yet to be made. Nothing will change until everyone decides to work to be a part of the solution.
Lately, the phrase “#NotAllMen” has been popularized by a group of men as a rebuttal to many women’s general statements about their experiences with men and harassment. The people who use this phrase are not at all understanding what women are trying to tell them, and they don’t want to listen to a woman’s experience either.
If a man’s first response to hearing about the horrible situation with Sarah Everard is to automatically defend other men, he must realize that he is part of the problem. It does not matter that “not all men” do these types of actions, it’s the fact that there are enough of them making it incredibly dangerous.
Many women are rightfully angry about this situation. According to the CDC, nearly 1 in 5 women have experienced completed or attempted rape in their lifetimes. 1 in 3 female rape victims experienced it for the first time between 11-17 years old. And 1 in 8 reported that it happened to them before the age of 10.
With so many women having a story similar to these statistics, many understand that this is a problem deeply rooted into the society we live in. To fix this, we have to go to the root of the problem, down to the behavior and attitudes that are deemed to be acceptable by our society, despite it being an extremely harmful thing boys are taught they can do without repercussions.
These types of behaviors can start in men from an early age, being more common especially in their teenage years. Such a behavior is when they adopt a sense of toxic masculinity, which includes things such as misogyny, homophobia, greed, and violent domination.
This contributes to the larger societal problem itself that’s become a hot topic right now, such as gender-based violence, gun violence, and sexual assault. Teaching young boys that they shouldn’t express their emotions in a healthy way and teaching them that all the bad things they see around are okay for them to do doesn’t help anyone at all.
As a woman myself, I cannot count the times I have held my breath and looked straight ahead as I walked near a group of unfamiliar men. I cannot count how many times I have held my keys firmly in my hand just in case anything happens. I cannot count how many times I have made sure that my friends safely got home after spending a day out, constantly checking my phone to see that one text: “I made it back safe, don’t worry.”