I don’t often use this blog as a platform for overly serious conversations. We’re in the business of pleasure, and escapism. But as someone who spends their working day on social media, I logged in this morning and immediately felt sad.
The hashtag #NotAllMen is trending, in relation to a tragic news story that I won’t talk about on here because it wouldn’t be fair to the family affected.
The general story being told by those using the hashtag is that women shouldn’t complain about having to make adjustments to their lives for their own safety, because it’s not all men. And true, it isn’t all men.
But it is all women.
I don’t know a single woman in my social circle who hasn’t at some point in their lives face unwanted attention from a man. And it starts so early in our lives. For me it started and 13, when boys at school thought it was okay to repeatedly grab my bra straps. One of them did it so much, I ended up kicking him in the bollocks because I don’t play like that!
But it’s continues throughout my live. From a man decided to sit next to me in a semi-empty train carriage in order to feel my thighs or cat calling comments that are beyond the usual whistling.
Add to that the fact that women are constantly told that they have to protect themselves from being assaulted (or worse) by a man. Carry keys in your pocket in case you need a knuckle duster, shout ‘fire’ if you are attacked, scratch an attacker so you get DNA under your nails for the police to take, don’t travel alone, sit behind the driver on a bus at night, wear shorts under short skirts so someone doesn’t try to take a picture of your panties, telling women not to go out at night alone… Honestly, the list could go on. And it’s fucking exhausting.
How about we try and new approach and put the responsibility on men.
· Teach boys that no means no. Consent isn’t rocket science!
· Men to stand up when other men around them are acting the fool.
· Stop blaming women when they are assaulted. No more ‘what was she wearing’ or ‘was she drinking’. No! It doesn’t matter if she was of her tits on double vodka and cokes, and flashed the entire bar, we don’t blame victims.
· When there’s a chance that a man is going around attacking women, don’t keep the women in, make all the men stay inside. That way, if there is a man walking around the streets post curfew, the police can assume he’s just up to no good.
· Believe women! Stop gaslighting women who do speak up, whether it’s about sexual assault or mental health issues!
Above all, women need to make sure we are supporting each other. We are taught so early on in life that we are in competition with each other and I call bullshit on that!
There’s a common narrative we all share, especially women in the sex work community. Let’s raise each other up, protect and support each other, because society isn’t going to do it for us.