I rely on my men. I let them hold my hand in the clubs, use them to block other guys with their body when I am too afraid to say no, or mostly when no didn’t work. I ask for them to walk me home, to wait up for me while I finish work. I ask them to keep me safe.
And there are so many good people in the world – and lots of them are men. I love my Dad and my Grandfathers and the family of friends and the friends of family and the teachers and kind strangers who I have met. I like my old manger, my new boss and the I guy I had a chat with at the bus stop the other week.
But even if these men don’t scare me, often I am scared. Because all men are stronger than me and mostly they’re faster and they have an ease of travelling through the world that is swifter and more powerful than the ways that I can move. And if there was a girl walking down the street and one of mymen was walking behind her quickly. I wouldn’t blame her for being scared of them at all.
And that’s the thing right. Maybe not all men will harm me – but when I am walking down the street at night the people I am afraid of are all men. When someone yells out a car window at me it has always been all men. And when a girl is assaulted and hurt and you’re reading it in the paper, or talking about it with your friends, then yeah, mostly that was all men too.
And I know that being afraid isn’t a uniquely female experience – but the men I know aren’t scared of taking a girl home in the club, or going on a tinder date or walking a few metres to the uber at night. Mainly the men I know are just scared of other men -the ones a little more straight, a little more white, a little bigger and angrier they are.
And maybe it wasn’t you that scared me – but it was him. And maybe he didn’t mean anything by it, or was just being friendly or had some perfectly reasonable excuse but also I was scared.
And I know it might be a foreign concept but you can’t prioritise a ‘bit of harmless fun’ over someone feeling safe. Or be offended when someone wants a bit of space.
Because I don’t need you to talk about yourself some more – or lecture me on how this could happen to men because you’re right – it could. Lots of awful violence and sexual assault and inappropriate comments get directed at men all the time and we need to talk about it but when you use “not all men” to silence women, you make it all about men again.
It is a big ask to make my boys keep me safe – but it is a bigger ask for me to give up my safety and because you can’t recognise that just because you couldn’t even fathom hurting somebody – that I can still fathom being hurt – by you.
And that is why something needs to change.