I got caught up in a Facebook argument the other day (I know, so unlike me) on the topic of violence against women, and got comments from men along the lines of #NotAllMen and ‘I’m not violent so it’s nothing to do with me’. But it is up to all men to do something.
Listen to your partners, daughters, friends, mothers, sisters and take them seriously when they talk about what they have experienced. Ask them how they feel about what is going on. Find out how often they have been flashed at, touched, rubbed up against, shouted at, wolf-whistled at, followed, and how old they were when it first happened (early teens for me). Hear their stories about how they plan ahead getting back to their car, how they map out longer routes in their heads because they don’t feel safe on the shorter routes, how they don’t speak out because they feel afraid or intimidated, or how they walk in the middle of the road with their keys in their hands when they think someone might be following them.
Educate your sons and grandsons in what is and isn’t acceptable and why. Help them see that women are their equals. Give them the tools that will allow them to make a difference.
Call out your colleagues, friends or family members when they make sexist jokes, talk over women, put women down, cat call women, or keep chatting someone up when it’s clear she’s not interested.
Don’t say ‘oh, it’s PC gone mad’. Don’t say ‘you can’t do or say anything these days’. If what you say or do upsets women or makes them uncomfortable, just don’t say it or do it. And don’t say #NotAllMen. Or respond that men get harassed too. I know they do. And I do care – I can multitask on caring. I’m just talking about women at the moment.
Writing short fiction, monologues and plays