Opinion: Janet Christie's Mum's the Word: Violence against women is nothing new but Sarah Everard’s murder has released a new wave of outrage in the next generation
Violence against women is nothing new but Sarah Everard’s murder has released a new wave of outrage in the next generation
We grow up modifying our behaviour to accommodate the dangers of being female, but Sarah Everard’s murder has released a new wave of outrage and the latest generation is taking a stand.
Youngest says: “We have to think about what we wear, our behaviour, where we go, how safe we are in clubs and pubs, how much we drink on a nightly basis - and we’re sick of it.”
She’s not happy.
“Lots of girls and women are posting their experiences on my social media and there was this post that said 97 per cent of women have experienced sexual harassment. And menslashboys were commenting jokey disgusting comments, like ‘let’s make it 100 percent’ and claiming that women were lying because there’s no way we’d touch half of them - they wish we harassed them’.
“We understand that men are also raped and sexually harassed and the victims of violence, but us talking about the 97 percent of women who are doesn’t mean we don’t care or believe them, it shows how dramatic the imbalance is. It’s not an argument on who has been harassed more, it’s just that the majority of those who are harassed are women. We’re saying everyone should come together.
“I will wear what I want, when I want, that is no excuse for being harassed. A lot of older women believe we should change our clothes and behaviour.”
She means me, with my flat boots and maxi puffa, not much makeup.
Youngest continues, dander up. “If I wear a short skirt it does not mean someone can harass me. It’s the same as women having sex as a job, it does not mean men can harass them.”
She has a point. I do treat her differently to her brothers. Earlier in the week I asked one of them to make sure he walked her home after dark.
“Well, OK,” he said. “But you’re going to make her frightened. She’s confident, not stupid, she’s done Thai boxing (I remember, I was paired with her and her mule-kick in the class).
She knows to stay in the busy, well-lit streets. If she doesn’t learn how to stay safe, she’s going to be even more vulnerable and dependent.
“It’s not up to me to say, ‘I’m a man’, but I saw a banner that said, ‘Don’t lock up your daughters, educate your sons’.”
“That’s good. But... you’ll still make sure you walk her home, right?”