Written by Trinity Barnatt
It’s 10pm and I’m walking home alone after finishing my shift at work. There’s a man walking towards me. He’s about 6ft. Dark hair. Caucasian. Roads too busy I can’t cross it. I get my keys from my pocket and hold them between my fingers. My heart starts racing as he walks towards me. Maybe I should have got on the phone to someone. Anxiety builds in my chest as he gets closer and closer and closer… A wave of relief runs through me as he walks past me.
Sarah Everard never felt that wave of relief.
For anyone unfamiliar with the recent case of Sarah Everard, she went missing last week after walking home from a friend’s house in south London. Since then, her body has been found and a serving police officer arrested on the suspicion of her murder.
While Sarah Everard’s case is devastating, that is not what shocked me. What shocked me was the response: #NotAllMen trending on twitter.
In response to a callous crime, thousands of thousands of people tweeted #NotAllMen, placing themselves in the middle of a conversation about a missing woman. It even became more popular than Sarah Everard’s hashtag, trampling on her memory already. As I sat and read through these sickening tweets, I felt like bursting into to tears.
The ignorance of the people tweeting this hashtag is overwhelming. No one believes that all men rape and murder women. Of course not – but allwomen live in fear of the threat of rape, assault and even murder. 120 women lost their lives last year at the hands of a man. Women live in fear of becoming a part of that statistic. When we walk down the street at night, we must treat all men as a threat in order to protect ourselves.
The entire message towards rape culture is a contradiction. We are taught endless precautions to stay safe in a world full of dangerous people. Yet when we accept that fact, we are faced with indignant responses like #NotAllMen.
A complaisant population dominated Twitter and laid out the very issue itself. Ignoring those around you who treat women disrespectfully, sitting idly by as they harass, objectify and assert their dominance is part of the problem. Right now, our society wears a mask of intolerance towards rape and assault, but the reality is too many people remain silent in the face of it.
All men and women need to band together and actively protest again any and all kinds of harassment and assault. From the smallest, most seemingly ‘harmless’ types to the type which Sarah Everard experienced last week.
The details of what she endured are unknown. While I can only hope she did not suffer for long, the point is that she should not have suffered at all. Too many women have suffered like Sarah Everard and many more women will suffer in the future. We live in a world where that is a fact.
Just let that settle in.
Trinity Barnatt is a first year English student at University of Leicester, originally from Bourne, Lincolnshire. You can find her on Instagram : @trinity_b._
Image by Mika Baumeister, from Unsplash