I’ve been doing a bit of soul-searching recently and pondering my stance on personal safety.
Having always considered myself a feminist (I was brought up on the belief that if we consider men and women as equals we are feminist – surely we all should be then?) I am particularly interested in the increasingly popular idea that instead of telling women to avoid being harassed, maybe we should tell men to stop harassing?
Yes – I know men are abused, harassed, raped too! But the facts are that 20% of women in England alone have experienced sexual harassment, compared with 4% of men, and over 98% of perpetrators are male, so for now, please indulge me.
The glaringly obvious personal problem I have with taking the view that we, as women, should carry on regardless, taking no safety precautions, and expecting all sexual predators to stop, is that I would go out of business. Women’s Safety is after all, how I survive. But beyond that, I am a mother of four daughters. Do I feel comfortable allowing them to just go for it? Give up their personal alarms? Walk alone down dark alleys? Accept lifts from strangers?
My answer is a definite no! In an ideal world, of course we wouldn’t have to worry about how other people are going to behave towards us. Whether or not our drink will be spiked by a rape drug. And I really don’t bow down to the idea of changing the way we dress, or the advice by the police to join a running club and not go running alone. That would be my idea of hell – trying to keep up with other joggers and without my earphones!
Yes, the emphasis should be on controlling the would be assailants, rather than victims (male or female), and the advice to not go out alone, or not wear certain outfits is beyond outdated.
But anything more radical and gung ho seems to be throwing all caution to the wind and in my eyes, a little irresponsible.
There always has been, and always will be, a threat to women, AND to men, in the form of other, ill-intentioned people. So surely a few cautionary adjustments in the form of being aware, carrying a rape alarm, and only using licensed taxis, are more common sense than a big step backwards for women’s rights?
That’s my thought anyway?