Outrage and optimism: My thoughts on women’s safety in an unsafe world

19 Mar 2021
By Gioia D M., Student at University of Glasgow

In the wake of the tragic disappearance and death of Sarah Everard, women across the world are opening up about their experiences of feeling unsafe in public. Here, student writer Gioia puts her thoughts down on paper.

The stories I’ve read from women on social media recently are harrowing. But sadly, they haven’t left me feeling shocked or confused. We all know this narrative. This narrative has been played and replayed over and over, probably since the beginning of time.

I just feel deeply resigned. Resigned that there seems to be nothing women can do to make ourselves safer. But then, maybe there is nothing that we can do to make ourselves safer because it shouldn’t be up to us in the first place.

We all know the ‘right’ things women are told to do to avoid putting themselves in danger: dress appropriately, walk public routes, call someone on your way home… but we still face issues on a regular basis. I don’t know a single woman who has not been sexually harassed or assaulted in some way.

While speaking to my flatmate about this recently, we reflected on how, on an almost daily basis, we get cat-called or receive weird stares from men in cars; how even the presence of a man walking too close to us is something to be aware of; how you have to look tough and look straight ahead if someone approaches you in the dark… Amongst many other behaviours, these are practices we’ve had to adopt in order to survive.

Yet, the moment you get home, these aren’t even things you think about mentioning to the people you live with because they are so standard, so normal. I suspect it’s the equivalent of telling your best mates that you went to buy a carton of milk. It’s not that exciting, it’s nothing new.

There are so many things right now in our current climate which are piling up and are making us feel, I assume, collectively hopeless about our social conditions. I wish I didn’t have to write this article. But seeing all these stories on social media has reminded me of the fact that I am not necessarily safe when I step out of my front door.

For the first time, though, seeing everyone’s response on social media and in the streets gives me a slight bit of hope that maybe things can change if we keep on speaking up.

If you’ve been affected by recent events or stories you’ve read online, please recognise that you are not alone. For information on the resources and support that is available to you, please click here.

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Currently studying English Literature and Theatre Studies at the University of Glasgow! A little Italian making her way through the world, lover of all food and dead scared of pigeons! I lived in England for the past five years, but I’m also a massive fan of Scotland - and a little obsessed with Mary Queen of Scots…