(I hope it is obvious and should go without saying that this article is written specifically in reference to cis men)
As a woman, you are constantly told that your safety is your own responsibility. We are told to somehow see into the future, and avoid dangerous situations by not putting ourselves there in the first place.
However, this piece of advice fails to provide men with any accountability.
Currently, it’s 5:00 pm, I’m with my boyfriend at a park and its still light outside. There are several people around and yet I still feel unsafe. Every single person at the park is a man, and in being the only woman, I am afraid. If you reverse that situation, it sounds like a man’s dream- however, as a woman, being surrounded by men that you don’t know is a terrifying nightmare. As I’m tying this, I’ve had people walk by and yell things at me. I’ve had people completely turn around and stare at me as they walk by.
This isn’t okay.
It isn’t fair that I need to be on the defense at all times. It isn’t fair that men get to go out and not worry about getting attacked, or stalked, or yelled at, while woman literally base their decisions around it. I’ve avoided things that I’ve wanted to do simply because I didn’t feel like having my guard up the entire night. I’m living half the life that a man gets to live, because I’m scared to death of what could happen to me. And the thing is, so many men just don’t get it.
“It’s just a joke though!” But it’s not. Women are attacked, stalked, and raped every single day. Women get shot just for turning down a man’s advances. One in three women on college campuses get sexually assaulted. Our pain and our problems are not jokes. You, as men, absolutely don’t get to joke about problems that you simply do not, and will not, experience. You don’t get to dictate what we should find funny, especially when it’s at our own expense.
When you joke about women but fail to hold yourself accountable, that’s a problem. When you joke about women but fail to call out predatory men when you see them, that’s a problem. When you joke about women yet do nothing to protect them, that’s a problem. You can vouch for yourself all you want, say that you’d never do anything to hurt us, say you respect us, say you understand why we’re afraid. But when you fail to take action, you’re just as much a part of the problem.