DISCLAIMER: This article is focused on current news, based on the political opinion of the author.
On March 3rd, Sarah Everard was walking home late at night from a friend’s house in London. She was on the phone with her boyfriend, planning to meet the next day. On March 4th, Everard’s boyfriend reported her missing when she did not show up and no messages or calls were going through her cell.
After multiple searches by the South London Metropolitan police and desperate cries from her family pleading for whoever might be possibly holding her to let her go, her human remains were discovered on March 12th. According to The Guardian, Metropolitan police officer Wayne Couzens and a woman were arrested on suspicion of Everard’s kidnapping and murder.
Sarah Everard’s murder shocked the nation, bringing an uproar of movements in the streets of London. Many individuals have started protests against male violence, all of which have caused Metropolitan police to use full restraint.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson shares with The Washington Post, “we’ve got to recognize that the tragedy and the horrific crime that we’ve seen in the case of Sarah Everard…has unleashed a wave of feeling from people, from women above all, who do worry about their safety at night.”
“Women,” he continues, “must be heard.” And women around the world refuse to be a bystander. On a national scale, the hashtags #SheWasOnlyWalkingHome and #NotAllMenButAllWomen have begun trending on different social media platforms. Many influencers and advocates have taken upon sharing recent statistics on hate crimes against women, specifically male violence against women.
In response to global concern on statistics showing that 97% of women in the ages of 18-24 have experienced sexual harassment in the U.K., recent data reported from U.N. Women, controversial arguments have started. To contradict this movement, many individuals have argued that women tend to generalize men when referring to male violence. To further add, the trend #NotAllMen began to grow.
As society continues to grow less tolerable to ignorance and violence, specifically group-specific discrimination, there is a bigger need to bring awareness on current issues. In fair argument, while stating “men rape” or using the bias statement of “I hate when men”, the concept of generalizing a whole gender can be offensive.
It’s easy to offend others in small statements that are made by a generation that isn’t afraid to speak up. But it’s also crucial to understand that when people use terms to describe a situation, the intention is not to categorize every single male and label them as rapists, people who harass and assault, or terrible beings in general.
We, as women, are aware that not all men commit terrible crimes, specifically crimes against women. But if statistics show that 97% of reported cases (not including those that are not reported and are minors) of women have been sexually assaulted, in which most of them have been committed by a man, we’re concerned for our own safety. Not all men rape, assault, or harass, but almost every single woman has experienced it.
The idea of trying to spread awareness of male violence is not intended to silence women’s crimes against men either. However, violence and/or sexual crimes against men and violence and/or sexual crimes against women are two different discussions that should both be addressed, but not addressed at the same time. Statistically, most sexual crimes are committed by men against women. In this situation that also involves the kidnapping and murder of Sarah Everard, It’s a current issue that should be addressed, especially when many people are unaware of how unsafe women feel at any given moment.
It’s more than just reading the statistics. It’s about how we hold our keys or a weapon between our fingers when we walk alone. It’s about how we can’t walk alone at night. It’s about the struggles of turning down a guy who flirts with us in fear of them getting angry and/or abusive.
Every woman who speaks up on their story and experience is aware that not every single guy they come across will attempt to harm them, but one can, and one might. When people begin to argue in defense of being categorized by starting #NotAllMen, you silence women’s voices. You drown out their pain, their hurt, their fear that they try to overcome, and you try to push a defensive concept on something that is a big issue in the world today.
The main problem about trying to prove that not all men commit sexual crimes against women is not about whether people should be speaking up about violence against men; everyone absolutely should. The problem is that it’s that those counterarguments are only brought up when violence against women is being spoken about.
Being on a college campus alone with no family nearby and having a larger male body has shown me that many guys are not educated. It’s beyond understanding what consent is. Everyone should be taught what barriers are, what a mutual understanding is, and understanding that women grow up fearing for their life because of what they see happening to other women. I’ve seen guys tell me I’m dramatic when I ask them not to sneak up behind me or when I become uncomfortable when they put their arms around my shoulder.
Women fearing for their life is not us being dramatic. It’s not a joke. Nor is it rare for women to be sexually harassed, assaulted, or abused by men. Most cases of sexual harassment against women are reported to be caused by a close relative or male friend.
We shouldn’t have to cover up, because our clothes don’t “ask” for us to be raped or harmed in any way. We shouldn’t have fought “harder” in tough situations where we have no way out. We shouldn’t be told that it’s expected to happen to us because we were walking home late at night. Instead of blaming women for the little things they could’ve changed or done, boys need to be educated. People need work together to do better.
The 97% is why we say #NotAllMenButAllWomen. The stigma of victim-blaming and normalizing this behavior is why we say #SheWasOnlyWalkingHome. We don’t just want to live in a world where we have the right to vote or fight in the army, we want to live in a world where we don’t have to look behind our shoulders 24/7. We want justice.