In light of the devasting news surrounding Sarah Everard’s disappearance on March 3 in The U.K., women everywhere have decided to speak up. They are bringing awareness to what it feels like to walk the streets as a woman, always careful and on guard, and at risk of suffering the same fate as Sarah. These are the precautions they have conditioned themselves to take.
The Conversation Was Started By A Human Rights Activist
Johnson’s intention with this initial tweet was to make sure women feel heard and justified, rather than blamed.
She wanted to encourage them to trust their intuition because if something doesn’t feel right, often it’s because it isn’t, and they should look for safety. If nothing else, it also provided solidarity and support.
Calling Ahead From The Cab
Even just the process of taking a cab makes women feel unsafe. From telling the driver to drop them off at a corner instead of their actual home address to texting a friend the moment they get in and along the way.
Fortunately, with modern apps, they can also share a tracking number.
Locking The Car Door As Fast As Possible
It’s not uncommon for a woman to still feel unsafe even after arriving inside of her car. She locks the door as quickly as she can and tries to get out of there just as fast.
Even though the car is made out of metal, it still feels breakable and risky.
If you haven’t noticed by now, it’s not the car that’s the problem, it’s the environment where she brings her car. It’s the getting out and back into the car, and everything in between.
This means she has to be careful where she puts her car, and she has to calculate how quickly she can get it out of that spot.
Looking For Other Women On The Subway Cars
They say there is power in numbers, but that’s not why women will look for other women on trains and subway cars.
The risk of them being outnumbered with force is still there, but it feels at least diminished knowing there’s a least one other woman who could fight alongside them.
Crossing To Walk Across The Street From A Man
Women will literally be late to appointments because they will purposely slow down so that they’re walking behind men instead of in front of them. This at least allows them to be able to keep an eye out rather than be surprised from behind.
Plus it allows them the chance to change routes if they feel like they’re being followed.
Holding A Key Out Between The Fingers
Not all women are comfortable or even allowed weapons, but this doesn’t mean that they don’t feel like they need to protect themselves somehow. The key trick goes way back, but because of circumstances, it never went out of style.
It goes to show that there is some work to be done before women can truly take back the night.
Wearing Shoes She Can Run In
Even that one minute of walking that separates a woman from her car at night is enough for her to feel at risk. Women live with a “better safe than sorry” mentality.
All it takes is that minute for her to get grabbed or harassed on her way, and running isn’t always good enough.
Pretending To Ignore A Man
The famous phrase “no means no” feels like nothing more than a phrase in some situations. Some men take “no” as a challenge. For other men, unless a woman tells them she has a boyfriend, they will not accept her “no” enough to respect it.
This is why women have resorted to getting creative by pretending to be busy or pretending to take a phone call.
Staying Alert Upon Hearing Footsteps
Women walk the streets feeling like they never know when the moment will be that they get snuck up on. When hearing of this happening to other women, the assumption isn’t always “this would never happen to me,” but rather “what if I’m next?”
There’s no way to predict who will be next, only that there will be a next.
Stopped Drinking A Drink She Took Her Eyes Off Of
You’d be surprised at how often women get roofied, even at the classiest of bars. All it takes is looking away for a few seconds.
With no way to really check if their drink has been meddled with, it’s often easier and safer to leave it altogether. This is why many women often ask each other to watch over their drinks.
Shared Her Address With Other Women
For most women, someone else knows where they are at all times.
It’s actually more responsibility than one would think because in the event that they don’t hear back from their friend, the worry settles in and the next steps could be scary.
Staying Inside After Sundown
Women only really get downtime late in the evening. That’s because they try to squeeze in most of their schedule in the daylight hours, as much as possible.
Once the sun goes down, it no longer becomes safe to simply walk to the store or go for a run.
Getting Off A Stop Early Just In Case
This may be sad, and that stranger may have just have been a nice man trying to make conversation, but it’s always safer to assume the risk than to trust and be proven wrong.
If the odds of arriving home safe are even just slightly lowered due to an interaction, then taking the long way to increase them is the way to go.
Paying For An Expensive Ride Over Walking
It’s an expensive business to stay safe. You might have picked up on this by now, but the unspoken safety checklist is like a game of odds. Women try to increase the odds of their safety as much as possible because they are never guaranteed.
In this case, taking a cab home still has risk, but it has higher odds of safety than walking alone in the dark.
Avoiding All Alleyways
Another factor that makes a woman feel like she’s increasing her odds of safety is always being somewhere that is visible. Alleyways take away those odds and make a woman more vulnerable.
She is then separated and out of sight, and even if it’s a small alleyway, a lot can happen in that distance.
Men Felt Like This Applied To Them Too
While safety is important for everybody, this was a conversation that could only truly be understood by those who walk in a woman’s body.
Yes, men also face dangers on the street too, but simply walking in a man’s body gives them more security than a woman has.
Some Men Didn’t Want To Acknowledge They Could Be A Part Of The Problem
We’re not saying all men are bad or all women are victims, but the reality is that some are. That risk is enough to make women feel like they need to take these precautions.
The fact that men now have to be extra careful to not be mistaken for one of the bad guys is secondary to the risk women feel that they might be.
No One Is A Winner
The unfortunate answer to even the previous men is that there is no answer. In this situation, everyone loses, not that it’s a competition to start with.
However, what the men need to realize is that sometimes the focus needs to stay on those who are suffering the most. Like a domino effect, if women can be given safe streets to walk on, not the ones that were once built on discriminatory grounds by men in the first place, then maybe the men will also feel more comfortable walking them.
The Conversation Surpasses Just Twitter
Women being able to have conversations about their safety concerns is just a starting point. It’s unclear what the exact solution is, but it certainly isn’t silence.
That’s why it’s important that these conversations live outside of Twitter, and not only bleed into Instagram, but into our daily interactions until we can come up with the right actions, and act on them.