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What I want men on-campus to understand, as a woman

Written by Campus Comment, Current Affairs

Women are constantly aware of their gender, as it is a permanent and unchangeable source of vulnerability for them. This is a fact that even the most naïve person on-campus can understand.

“Don’t walk alone at night.” “Text me when you get home safe.” “Never leave your drink alone.” “Be aware of the people around you.”

These are some of the things every young girl learns. However, I won’t bore you with the never-ending list of precautions that my female friends and I have heard. If you’re interested, google “women staying safe” for some insight. Instead, I would like to make a plea to men to be aware of the outward impact of their male presence. 

Men, you may be the kindest, most gentle person ever. However, it is important that you understand that your gender will likely put you in a position where you, unconsciously, intimidate a woman. Imagine that you are leaving the Robbo after a long day of work, heading back home to Jesmond. It is 10pm and dark as you’re walking under the underpass by Brandling Park. You haven’t, however, registered the woman who left the library 30 seconds before you did, who is walking just ahead of you. Nevertheless, I guarantee that she has noticed you. Maybe she will cross the road, or take out one of her earphones to ensure she’s alert, or hold particularly tight to her keys in her pocket, just in case.

This is just one example of how your presence could pose an unconscious threat to another person. Please know I am not blaming you: of course it isn’t your fault, it is just the way the world is. However, I will ask you to have self-awareness. Understand that 90% of sexual assaults against women are perpetrated by men, and unfortunately, you share physical features with those men.

So if you are a kind and caring person, as I know most men to be, I beg you to please be aware of yourself. Cross the street first so she knows you’re not following her. Don’t appear from a side road with your hood up without realising how that could look to a woman. In understanding and acting on this, you’ll be contributing to alleviating this anxiety for us, and we could finally stop seeing you as a threat. 

Featured Image: Wikimedia Commons

Last modified: 19th November 2020

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