Sarah Everard just wanted to go home | Jack Marshall's column
It’s patently clear that it’s not ‘all men’; no one said it was.
But it is *some* men, which is too many. And how the hell are women supposed to know which men it is? And why is it on them to weedle out the assailants from the allies?
Walking home at night, keys wedged between trembling fingers and hair tucked away so it can’t be gripped, that looming shadow could be a gentle giant, but it could also be a potential kidnapper. A rapist. A murderer.
‘Not all men’ counts for absolutely nothing in that tragically familiar scenario.
Some 97% of young women in the UK have been sexually harassed, according to a UN Women UK survey. If every woman who has experienced sexual assault went to the police, there would not be enough officers or courtrooms on the planet to deal with the cases.
That is utterly abhorrent. These people are our daughters, mothers, sisters, friends, colleagues. They are individuals who deserve so, so much better.
Ask any woman you know and it’s almost certain she will have a harrowing story where she feared for her safety, if not her life. And yet, the response from some is still to get defensive.
Instead of asking how they can help, they say ‘not all men’, smugly proud of not being a kidnapper. A rapist. A murderer.
The bar for men is so low, yet we consistently trip over it. Women, on the other hand, are conditioned from an early age to behave in ways so as not to be targeted by male violence; to be invisible in their own communities.
Hypervigilance is a part of life. Just to survive men.
If men are not willing to be part of the solution, they’re part of the problem. As comedian Daniel Sloss said in a monologue on the topic of male violence towards women which has gone viral: “If one in 10 men are [bad] and the other nine do nothing, they might as well not be there.”
As men, we need to talk to our male friends; tell them to cross the road and speed up if they find themselves walking behind a woman at night so she can see them. To respect women’s space at all times. To walk female friends home wherever possible. To call out misogynistic behaviour.
This should not be about protecting women, it needs to be about educating men.
Shame on those saying ‘it’s not all men’. This isn’t about you, it’s about a woman. Her name was Sarah Everard, she was someone’s daughter, and she went missing whilst walking home from a friend’s house.
She just wanted to go home.