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The Innocuous Man

To my colleague, my brother, my boyfriend, my father:

I just drove home, at 8:45pm. It was pitch black, freezing. On my way, I drove past two parks. I counted the people I saw out walking. 7 men, 0 women.

For me, it’s a no brainer, don’t walk at night, because someone will snatch you, someone will stalk you, you might get mugged, and if you must walk at night, make sure you’re with a male for protection. As I think more and more about this way of life, I remember back a few years ago to when I did, as a 14-year-old, walk through the park across the road from my house late at night. I am filled with a sense of petrifying fear, and I immediately begin to scold myself for my appalling decision making. How could I have done something so idiotic?

As a confident person, I have always viewed the possibilities in life as endless, coupled with the cliché that ‘I can do anything if I set my mind to it’. Yet, despite all this, I worry about my language on my cover letter, I don’t want to sound too pushy. I worry about my appearance at job interviews. I worry about what shade of lip stick to wear, red, too promiscuous, pink, too tacky, neutral, too uptight. Can I smile in my interview? Or will that be too flirtatious? Am I even good enough for this job?

Volunteer work is incredibly fulfilling, it is satisfying to realise that hours that I put into work for others, that I could be making a difference in someone’s life. Generally, in the organisations I volunteer for, I am paired with a male counterpart, which is always fun. We get along, we joke, we do our work. Somewhere along the way, I end up worrying that I am being too bossy, and admiring my male counterpart for his assertiveness and the respect he so effortlessly gains from our other colleagues. I seem so overbearing, so hostile, so aggressive. He seems so measured, so decisive, so self-assured. Why I am always so emotional?

And this, well this is my life. Our collective female lives. My safety, my appearance, the rationality of my emotions. Some may argue that it is simply a choice to worry about these things, and this constant barrage of thoughts running through my mind is just echoing personal insecurities that I possess. But it is so so much more than that.

I am sick of hearing my friends tell me about the uncomfortable attention they received on their nights out, I am sick of hearing my friends tell me they were raped, I am sick of hearing men tell me that abortion is wrong, and that if a rape victim doesn’t come forward it must mean that the incident didn’t happen at all.

I am sick of feeling like I can’t do what I want because I am a female.

I do not want to continue in a world where the people I love, the sisters, daughters, mothers are made to feel uncomfortable, to feel worthless. Whether it’s a comment, a look, a touch, it’s happened. And it happens all the god damn time. We, as women, are constantly made to feel insecure about who we are, and what we do. None of us should have to feel any of the things.

There are thousands of articles just like this one that are circulating the internet in the wake of Eurydice Dixon’s death. Some have been heavily anti-male, and this is certainly not the answer to this insidious problem.

To all of you men out there: we do not blame you, nor should we. We are not attempting to scapegoat. We are not asking you to justify the actions of rapists, these horrible broken people who think that violence is okay. We acknowledge that there are both women and men who have experienced the horrors of domestic violence. Violence is a non-gendered issue, and it’s important we note that violence can be both physical and emotional.

But what you do need to do, if you really are #notallmen, is think. Think long and hard. Think about the way you talk to your sister, to your mother, your girlfriend, your female colleague. Think about how your friends talk when there are no women around. Think about how it must feel to live most of your life ‘needing protection’. Think about how it must feel to be told that you need to take steps to ensure that you aren’t raped and killed whilst out living your life.

The next time you hear a sexist comment, don’t choose to ignore it. Choose to fight it, for your sister, your mother, your girlfriend, your female colleague. Because if it were them that had been raped or killed, how would you feel?

To the Eurydice Dixon’s of the world, I say sorry. It is difficult to express the words of grief I feel for the strong, independent and thoroughly wholesome individuals that you were. This has happened too many times, and we need to stop it. So please, my colleague, my brother, my boyfriend, my father, Think.

Image: Marie Claire

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