T/W assault, violence.
I feel so helpless, so sad and frustrated. I barely slept last night. Thinking about those final hours of Sarah’s life. I just cannot stay silent.
The ‘#not all …(insert non oppressed group here)….’ narrative has been bopping about in numerous places over the past couple of years and at first I shrugged it off. But again, a young woman is missing, suspected dead and an arrest for murder has been made. The recent, terrifying news about Sarah Everard has shaken me to my core. The fact that police are ‘unable to identify the remains’ is so disturbing – I don’t even want to think about what he could have done to her.
The same phrase annoyed me during the BLM protests; ‘not all cops’ was never relevant. It IS some cops, far too many cops. And until something changes I am certain people of colour will be terrified of ALL police in every country, due to the systematic oppression which exists.
When you tweet ‘#notallmen’ you basically erase the feelings of every woman during this devastating ordeal and make it all about yourself. Letting us all know that you personally have never harassed or murdered a woman is not the feminist flex you think it is. Women are scared, traumatised and triggered from their own encounters with predators. We all know a victim of domestic abuse or a random attack, a rape or a violation.
I appreciate that it’s not all men. Noone said it is, but it is all women. All women who are terrified to walk the street, go to a club, go on public transport and the list goes on. We know all too well that this could have been any of us. But this time it wasn’t, next time though it might be. We have all been in a situation we definitely shouldn’t have been in, where we had those feelings of fear. So who is going to raise the argument that we can no longer do things and take precautions to keep ourselves safe, because clearly they don’t work. We have tried being on the phone whilst walking home, leaving before midnight, taking taxis, taking a long route home. Yet we still get the blame when we are snatched, abused, exploited, intimidated and murdered.
I was reluctant to write this next bit but I think sharing stories can help people. So here is one of many. I remember a situation I found myself in (or better yet a situation someone put me in) at a job I had. I found myself alone in the building with a male, who was throwing down the pints like his life depended on it. I told him ‘no more’ and that I was locking up once he’d finished his drink. As I went to lock up some of the doors, he disappeared, but his phone and keys remained on the bar. I remember clenching the keys I was using in between my fingers in case he grabbed me and walking backwards against the wall. I remember so heartbreakingly saying to myself ‘this could be the night my life changes forever’ and ‘if he does something to me, I will never be the person I was yesterday’.
Thankfully I spotted him on the CCTV and asked him to leave. I was shaking, my mouth was so dry. He asked if I could take him home or if I wanted to go ‘somewhere else’ with him. I politely said no, and started recording on my phone which was in my pocket. We both left and I locked the door. He started to walk towards my car, trying the door handles. I said ‘I can’t take you I’m sorry, it’s against work rules’ (total lie). And I asked if he needed money and a taxi ordering – I would literally have paid him to piss off. He walked away and I got in my car and locked myself in, checking he was still walking away. I was in such a state that I tried to call my best friend at the time (my now amazing girlfriend) and I accidentally called her twin sister, crying and freaking out. She was very supportive nonetheless and told me to come to her house as it was nearby.
Although I got off with it this time, I will never ever forget that feeling of fear and hopelessness. I thought I’d be able to hold myself well in a situation like that and have told him straight. But there I was, shaking, crying and hyperventilating in my car.
All I think to myself when things like this happen is, where are your friends? Where is your dad or your bother or your mum? Hasn’t anyone told you what is and isn’t acceptable to do to a young woman? No, he didn’t touch me, but he didn’t need to. I know he thrived off the fear in my eyes, words and body. And I work with men every time to go to one of my jobs. Drunk men, older men, lonely men and nasty men (but also lots and lots of lovely men who I’d trust with my life actually (and I often do by being alone in the pub with them). And it isn’t all men. It’s one out of 100 men, or one out of 1000 or 10,000. But as women, we cannot tell who is and isn’t a danger to us. We don’t walk past men in the street and just know that they aren’t out to hurt us. Life would be a whole lot easier if this were possible. So we have no option but to trust men, because we know it’s not all men. But there comes a time where all men scare me, and that time is now. Due to a select few men’s actions. No this isn’t fair, and men shouldn’t be tarnished with the same brush because of one psychopath. But this one psychopath is someones HUSBAND! Someones son, someone’s friend and worst of all a whole ass SERING POLICE OFFICER. so yes, if the ones paid to protect us are still killing us, I will remain scared of men.
As I write this with tears in my eyes, I feel so hopeless. I feel this thing inside me screaming DO SOMETHING! So what can we do to stop this? My men first of all, please STOP SAYING NOT ALL MEN! Also stop thinking ‘what if that was my girlfriend of my sister or my mum’, women don’t have to even be your acquaintance to matter. ALL WOMEN MATTER, and we are terrified, exhausted and heart broken. Talk to your friends, make your feelings on women’s safety clear, call out your mates who make rape jokes and mates who don’t leave women alone on a night out. Keep raising awareness and don’t be complacent. I’m sorry but I won’t praise you for not being a murderer. 97% of women have been sexually harassed or assaulted; me included on multiple occasions. So even though it’s not all men, it is obviously quite a few of you. Please stand with us and protect us, we don’t mean to offend you when we cross the road to avoid you, we are just scared. And girls, don’t stop sharing your stories and raising awareness. Please know my DMs are always open if anyone needs to talk or share something.
If there are any events regarding this taking place in Yorkshire/Leeds, please let me know.