Ask Women (#NotAllMen)

If you are a man whose reaction to women’s social media posts about Sarah Everard’s murder and how they also have felt unsafe in the past please stop trying to centre yourself in this story. You feeling that the phrasing is unjust is not just off topic but it minimises the point being made, it is an attempt to paint ‘good men’ as victims in this story. Men, more than you clearly think, have made many women feel unsafe many times. Ask them about it.

Ask the women in your life about the reactions they’ve received when they’ve politely turned down a man in a bar. Ask them how he aggressively called them a slut, whore or bitch for not being interested.

Ask the women about the times their bodies have been touched or grabbed without consent in the street or in a bar or at school when they were young, by strangers or colleagues or friends. Ask them about how they were told to stop being such an uptight bitch when they reacted. Ask them about being called frigid when they didn’t like being touched like that.

Ask them about the men who have tried to ‘help their form’ at the gym in an attempt to covertly touch them. Ask them about how they were laughed at when they said no. Ask them about the large angry gym guys who continued to try to get closer to them against their will.

Ask them about the men who have followed them home at night or during the day and tried to talk to them in the street and not picked up on their discomfort and kept trying. Ask them about the times they’ve run away with their keys between their fingers, just in case.

Ask them about the times they’ve changed their tone to gentle or friendly as they’ve watched a man’s face drop or his tone become aggressive. Ask them about the times they’ve controlled the fear to stop their voices shaking as they reject another unwanted advance.

Ask them about the boyfriends who wouldn’t take no for an answer and kept going. Ask them about the guy who didn’t stop when they wanted to and then cried that he loved her in some post orgasm moment of clarity. Ask them about how they lay beside him feeling numb but told him it was okay.

Ask them about the dating apps and their DMs. Ask them why they keep their social media locked down to avoid strangers sending them sexually explicit messages they have no interested in. Ask them how many times they’ve been verbally abused for ignoring the messages.

Ask them about the older men commenting on their bodies when they were still at school. Ask them about the colleagues who still do it to them as adults. 

Ask them about the partner who continues to ask them do things in the bedroom that they’ve said no to hundreds of times. Ask them how it feels to be negatively compared to the fantasy he’s built from the porn he consumes. Ask her if she thinks he’ll stop asking.

Ask them about how it feels to leave a drink unattended in a club around men they don’t know.

Ask them about how, after all this, that the narrative is still aimed at them having to be careful and not at men being less monstrous in their behaviour.

Ask them about the ‘what was she wearing? Was she drinking? Why was she out after dark?’ questions they see asked in the media and comments by those they know.

Men need to take responsibility for the darkness within us. If your response is ‘some men’ or ‘not all men’ you’re part of the problem. You are minimising the pain and fear and exhaustion behind the statement or story you’re commenting on. You’re missing the point. Stop it. It’s petty and ridiculous. Nobody thinks it’s all men, but it is way too many men and we need to start speaking up with women against the torrent of aggression they face.

Of course, not all men will.

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