For many women this past week has been exhausting and even triggering. The case of Sarah Everard is a harrowing and heartbreaking reminder of the dangers that we face simply for existing. On top on this women are now being subjected to men coming online to claim that ‘not all men rape/kill/sexually assault women’ and have resorted to utilising any form of male suffering to dominate this conversation; as opposed to recognising this as a systemic issue, and in turn make it about them.
So the message is clear: not ALL men sexually assault/abuse/rape/kill women but ALL men benefit from the same system that makes other men think that they can.
As a man, if your first thought this past week has been ‘but not ALL men!’, then you are part of the problem.
Most of us, as women will remember the first time we experienced some form of sexual harassment and unfortunately this starts before we even reach adulthood. The rhetoric of ‘be vigilant’ is woven so deeply into our collective need for safety, yet even with these precautions such protection is not a guarantee.
From ‘text me to when you get home’ to ‘let’s leave before the sun sets’, women have to take measures every single day just to protect themselves from men.
Women being subjected to murder by men is never an isolated incident. Instead, it is a reflection and by-product of the patriarchal systems that pervade our society, making it unsafe for women to get from A to B.
It starts with us being sent home as children for wearing clothes deemed as ‘distracting’ to male students and teachers. It continues when we are slut shamed for daring to enjoy sex as much as men; when police officers ask us ‘but what were you wearing?’ when we are groped, grabbed and sexualised; when we are silenced after sharing our experiences; it’s when we realise years later that what we experienced was, in fact, assault.
It’s when you say: ‘not all men’.
Maddy Gez / @maddsgez
Download Maddy's Infographic for sharing online:
'The Virtual Vigil' is a series of perspectives, emotions and poems written in response to the current political climate. As a feminist art collective we want to use our space to empower the voices of those affected by gender based violence. In doing so, we hope to challenge existing narratives and teach men that they have a collective responsibility to speak up and call out inappropriate and violent behaviours. If you would like to take part in our virtual vigil, please feel welcome to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Images by Emily Mort.