This is not the post I intended to write in the week of International Women’s Day. I wanted to look back over those wonderful videos we shared on Monday and highlight all the amazing women out there doing brilliant things.
“We’re strong!” I wanted to shout, “We’re independent. We’re winning the fight for gender equality.”But what a bloody long time ago Monday feels. I watched as a bi-racial woman was ripped to shreds on national television and called a liar for sharing her suicidal thoughts. And then I watched the news story unfold as the awful disappearance of Sarah Everard became a murder investigation.
Her tragedy is felt on a personal, gut wrenching level by every woman I know because it is the cautionary tale we’ve all been brought up on. It reminded us of the shared battle we are all fighting but don’t talk about in all those wonderful, celebratory, Happy International Women’s Day posts.
You want to know what it’s really like being a woman?
It’s planning a safe route before you leave the house. It’s not walking alone after dark. It’s being taught to use keys as a weapon. It’s being told as a young girl to shout “fire” if you’re attacked because it’s more likely help will arrive for property than for you. It’s calling someone so they know where you are if you have to walk alone. It’s the constant soul crushing shame of relying on a husband, partner or male friend to make you safe. It’s knowing that a wedding ring is more likely to get a man to back off than just saying no. It’s sharing your location on WhatsApp. It’s texting your friends to check you all got home alive. It’s holding your breath until the man walking behind you crosses the street. It’s listening to your friends say they didn’t report being raped because they feared they wouldn’t be believed. It’s watching high profile abusers being protected whilst their victims are destroyed.
We are strong. We are independent. And we still can’t win this alone.
So men, it’s over to you. We need you to fight for us. We need you to show up at vigils and marches. We need you to write to your MP. We need you to campaign for better lighting and security. We need you call out rape jokes and misogynistic comments every time you hear them.
We need you to join the war for gender equality so that maybe, just maybe, leaving the house won’t feel like preparing for battle. Join Right to Walk MCR’s virtual vigil at 6pm on Saturday 13 March: https://www.facebook.com/righttowalkmcr.