“mmm so hot nearly broke my dick looking at u xx”.
Just a random message from a stranger on Facebook Messenger the other day. I mean at least he put a couple of kisses at the end of it right? At least he didn’t actually send me a photo of his dick. But you know what if women kept every unsolicited photo of a stranger’s penis they had ever sent many of us would look like we had some kind of porn addiction to anyone who viewed our camera albums.
These kind of messages and photos get received so often most of the time women just delete them without comment. We haven’t engaged in conversation with the sender or indicated we enjoy receiving such messages, yet some men feel that it is their right to be able to expose themselves or send lewd messages to women they don’t know.
This attitude has been seen in multiple stories in the news, on Social Media and in discussions between friends in the last week. Women are used to be shouted at or commented at on busy streets, in the day, with other people around. The fact that men can do this and know that they are unlikely to be called out by those around them allows them to do it again and again with confidence and means that most women learn, at an early age, to brush these comments and incidents aside as if they are nothing.
All women know the dangers of walking at home alone at night, I only run at night with my friends and on well lit streets, we all text one another when we get home at night to confirm we are safe. We get taught at an early age about sticking to busy roads, staying alert, not leaving drinks unattended in bars. Women grow up essentially being conditioned to avoid attack yet at the same time are expected to brush off unwanted comments or attention because it’s just ‘a bit of fun’. The fact that men (strangers) have exposed themselves to me in a busy street whilst I was on my way to work, slapped my bum as they walked past, felt it ok to make comments about what they’d like to do to me or blatantly look down my top telling me they are doing so, and the fact that a couple of hours after the event they’d slipped my mind as they seem so normal shows that there are plenty of men out there that think that treating women like this is ok and that are confident they won’t suffer any consequences.
Suggesting that Sarah should not have walked home alone at night, when women routinely and obviously get harassed every day in plain sight with bystanders saying nothing, is insulting (to her, her family, women in general). Women face potential harassment and worse at all points of the day, whatever they are wearing, whether they do ‘all the right things’. Sarah did ‘all the right things’, she stuck to busy roads, phoned her partner, was wearing bright clothes. But again the people saying she shouldn’t have walked home at night are doing what so often happens when women get attacked or accosted. Blaming the woman for doing the wrong thing (i.e. not going out of their way to avoid getting attacked) rather than the attacker for attacking them. We should not dare live our life freely, unless we accept that in doing so we may be attacked.
Is it education that we need? I don’t know. Because it isn’t all men, of course it isn’t. Maybe men could do more at calling their mates out if they see them acting inappropriately, but actually, I know an awful lot of men that do call out inappropriate behaviour, who don’t just stand by. Stopping shaming or blaming women would help though, in the media, and in general perceptions throughout society. Women should be able to go places and wear what they want without being accused of making themselves open to attack. I really don’t like the socks and sliders look – does that mean I can use this as an excuse for attacking someone? Extreme? Not when you think how many people think a women in a revealing outfit was asking to be raped. Instead we need to focus on the people who attack women, not give them excuses but treat them for what they are , criminals. Beyond that we should take the every day harassment women just accept as ‘nothing’ more seriously, because if we take this more seriously it might be a start to changing people’s perceptions of how people think women should be treated.
And for the record, the woman in the news suggesting men should have a 6 pm curfew. I didn’t actually pay much attention to this story so don’t really know the background, but maybe, just maybe, she was making the point that women have a kind of curfew. Once it gets dark we need to be careful about going out alone, where we go, what we wear. It’s not a legal curfew or an official one, but one which we get taught to observe as soon as we are old enough to go out alone.