The recent awful news regarding Sarah Everard has sparked a conversation which should have taken place a long time ago. Firstly, I want to acknowledge that I am writing this article as a man and that my education of the societal norms placed upon women has been sub-par until recently. I have however, made an effort over the past week to speak to various different women to try and better my understanding of their experiences.
As a man, I have privileges I didn’t realise I had. Walking or running without fear, wearing clothing without thinking about how it may look and not having to text a family member or friend when I arrive at my destination to name just a few.
I have been astonished at the amount of stories of cat calling, being whistled/beeped at, even taking photos or just staring. This all happens in Petersfield, and isn’t just refined to big cities.
As per the title of this article, actions do speak louder than words so I have gathered some ideas from women, that we as men can do to help women feel less vulnerable or threatened.
Improve your understanding of the problems by speaking to women in your life and ask them about their personal experiences.
If you are running or walking past a women, make them aware of your presence. A simple ‘hello’ or ‘good morning/evening’ will suffice.
When approaching a woman (especially from behind and at night), consider crossing the road, giving them plenty space or even divert your route if it is safe and possible to do so.
With gyms set to reopen on April 12th, this is another area where change needs to take place. The gym can be an intimidating environment at the best of times for a lot of people, but there are steps you can take to reduce the intimidation. Don’t follow a woman from kit to kit, trust me there are plenty of other exercises you can be doing instead. Mirrors are there to check your technique and not to stare inappropriately. Don’t be surprised seeing women in the free weights area, instead you should understand this is an area for everyone and the more who use it, the better results they will achieve. Lastly if you or your gym partners make inappropriate comments about women, please don’t. Everyone is there for a reason and that shouldn’t be to ridicule or make anyone feel uncomfortable.
This is not a problem reserved just for women to resolve, it is for men to look at what we can do about it. So I ask the male readers of this article, have you ever cat called, wolf whistled, beeped your horn or stared at a woman for too long? If your honest answer is no, then great, but that’s not all. Do you have male friends who do this and you just stand by? If so, you’re part of the problem. It takes a strong, confident man to stand up to another and tell him he is wrong. It might feel awkward but we all need to take responsibility to do something.
Please remember, actions speak louder than words and we can all do something to try and help.
If you need help starting your health and fitness journey for the first time, or the 20th time, I can help! Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s start your process.