Sam Radford

March 24, 2021

What men can do now

Ever since Sarah Everard’s death, I’ve been reflecting on what I can do to help women feel safer.

And, as Caitlin Moran writes in The Times (£), I’m not alone:

Violence will find women everywhere: in their home; at work; on a bus; walking home, at night... Sarah Everard’s death, though, seems to have changed something. Something has shifted... there seems to have been a transformation in the conversation about how dangerous and fearful it is to be a woman, because for the first time, in my experience at least, I have seen dozens – hundreds, thousands – of people saying, “What can we do?” The difference is, this time it’s men asking the question.

And we should be asking this question. Because, as a man, it is my responsibility. If you’re a man reading this, it’s yours too.

Some have said all men shouldn’t carry the blame for the behaviour of some men. Sure. But, late at night, on a quiet, dark street, how is any woman to know which type of man you are? When 97 per cent of women say they’ve been harassed on the streets, they justifiably have to assume any man is a potential threat.

Let that last sentence sink in for a moment.

So, if there are things I can do that help women feel even a little bit safer, why on earth would I not want to do that?

If crossing to the other side of the road helps, I’ll cross the road. If making sure I don’t quietly encroach on a woman while walking or running helps her feel more secure, I’ll make my presence clear so there’s no surprise. If calling out bad behaviour by other men will help women feel watched out for, I won’t stay silent.

These are not big asks! Anyone who has an issue with these kind of behaviour changes, is part of the problem.

Do we want to live in a world where our mothers, daughters, sisters, and partners feel unsafe?

It’s not enough to say, ‘Well, I’m not a harasser’, or, ‘Don’t include me with the abusers’. We men have a role to play in doing more to protect the women around us from those who are harassing and abusing.

This has flourished in the shadows for too long and it’s taken a tragedy (another tragedy) to bring this crashing into the light. We can’t let this moment slide on by and surreptitiously return back into those same shadows. Nor can we wait for the police, the legal system, and politics to catch up. There are behaviours we can change right now. 

Why wouldn’t we?