Well, there are many ways through which conscientious men can make women feel safe in public, but we’re talking about the basic ones that come with common sense. And this conversation has picked up due to the countless sexual assault and harassment cases around the country.
Women no longer feel safe in public, so we want the men of our society to help us navigate and create a safer environment for our families and children to be able to freely live their lives without worrying about someone pouncing at them.
DON’T BLAME THE VICTIM, PLEASE
“It can be very damaging for people who have had these kinds of experiences. It reinforces their sense of powerlessness and it reinforces their pain,” says Ms Legena.
The conversation has moved up and down, back and forth from clothing, to going to certain places with your male friends is inviting a harasser, so it’s our fault that we weren’t being careful.
What we actually need to do is that, even though girls do need to exercise some restraint, we need to put emphasis on the behavior of the people who are abusing the situation. And that has to stop!
KEEP YOUR DISTANCE & YOUR HANDS TO YOURSELF
Dear men, you may not realize it but we notice when you’re in close proximity. We notice how fast and slow you walk as we mentally calculate our pace according to a backup plan in case things go wary. So, if you’re walking past me, please maintain a good amount of distance, or if we come across each other in the park, signal me that you’re getting closer. In reality we generally we feels safer when you’re in front of us, whether we’re climbing the stairs or exiting the mall.
Moreover, whether we know you or not, PLEASE KEEP YOUR HANDS TO YOURSELF even if you have no inappropriate intention. We don’t like to be touched, not on our hands or arms, nor our back. Even though not every woman will be bothered by this, but I know many women who will be. Therefore, going out of your way to avoid touching a woman you don’t know signals that you’re aware of how women feel and want them to feel safe and comfortable and respected. I promise, we notice such things.
Men are made to be protective about their mothers, sisters and daughters and the instinct to protect has not gone. So if a man simply “acts like a man” in public too, he’s stepping up to the image that they are innately programmed to do!
INTERVENE WHEN ANY WOMAN IS BEING OBJECTIFIED OR HARASSED
I’d love to see a guy calling out his guy friend/boys if he sees someone make a raunchy remark about a girl sitting across him with her friends, or cat-call by saying “na kar yar, don’t do that!” – would be so inspiring. And if you see a woman being harassed, physically putting yourself between her and the harasser or just stepping in to defend her and staying with her until the harasser leaves would be a respectful move.
If you’ve witnessed a woman being harassed or assaulted, please please ask her if she needs some kind of help (security, family or the police maybe?) They all may not instantly ask for it because they might be scared but make sure she’s unharmed, all the while knowing that someone out there is to protect her like any good man should do!
TALK TO YOUR FRIENDS
Men are generally oblivious to what’s going on, so talk about them about it if you see any low-key harassment right in front of you, call them out immediately. People pretend not to notice when someone’s being a creep, because they don’t want to get into anyone else’s business so by not taking any action we normalize such behavior.
DON’T STARE & KEEP YOUR COMMENTS TO YOURSELF
Please don’t stare at us like you’ve never seen a girl before. It makes us extremely uncomfortable and it really tells us what you’re thinking so in return that scares us. And refrain with the comments on our looks to the way we walk or talk. And just so you know, yelling things at women from your car isn’t funny, complimentary or harmless. It’s harassment.
The narrative surrounding how men can make women feel safe in public has to be endorsed because we also have the right to be everywhere, alone or chaperoned. Men are not entitled to to treat any woman like she’s a commodity and if you think like that, take a look at your daughter, wife, sister, mother and girlfriend. If this is what’s hindering our freedom to be safe then we need to stand up against it.