On the night Sarah Everard’s body was found I went to bed thinking about Sarah and how every woman I know struggles to walk alone or exist anywhere. Every woman I know has a story about a man who has verbally and physically harassed them. Sometimes it was online, on a date, while sharing a bed with a friend, while walking home, on a night out; women are just existing at home or outdoors and violence or abuse happens.
Sometimes when I think about things, poems or rhymes start to form in my head and I shared this one on a video on Instagram and a few people asked for a written copy so I’d share this here.
Let Women Walk Alone
They tell us don’t walk alone,
Hide away your phone,
Hold your key,
Be ready to flee.
It could happen in a park or an alley,
A festival, the tube or a rally,
Is there no where that we can be safe?
To just exist outside our homes,
Without wondering whether we have our phones
At the ready,
In case it occurs
The thing we dread, the man that lures
Behind us on our walk home,
In the bus, the club, they roam
About to scare us, even if they don’t act
Because to them it’s nothing but fact,
Women were asking for it, for doing that.
80% of all women are harassed
And yet no one asked,
If they were stopped,
Labelled and dropped
By their friends, when in no in fact
Some were complicit in that.
There still out there,
They lurk and stare,
It’s not a joke,
Just because that bloke,
You saw on TV
As what about she?
Are we not free?
We don’t feel it.
They tell us don’t go out at night
You might receive a fright
For the monsters aren’t under the bed
They’re sometimes inside your head
But mostly they live among us
Being kind and nice, because
They think they can have you
No matter what you do
Or what you say
They sometimes don’t go away.
You recite it in your head
The rules that scare you in tucked up In bed:
Don’t look you might provoke them,
Don’t run you might provoke them,
Don’t wear that, you’ll provoke men.
People say well not all men,
Then men begin to thank them,
As though some are good, others bad
But then some of them are a dad
They are a brother or a son
And each of them has a Mum.
It’s not your fault men aren’t taught to wait
Aren’t taught to hold back their mate
Instead they watch as they think it’s fun
As you speed up, then begin to run.
But before she’s your gal,
Or your pal,
She exists like you and me
She’s wasn’t made for you to touch or see.
Don’t say her name,
Or some other refrain,
That you’ll think she’ll like
When what she’d like
Is for you to cross the street and show your face
Hang back on your pace,
Give us some space,
avert your gaze
Because this isn’t a phase,
Women are always at risk,
We are not safe to just exist
Or do things the normal way
The world reminds us every day,
We have to shrink, to hide, to cower
To cover up and at the hour
Because supposedly you are safe upon these floors
But that’s not true for all of us.
It’s hard to understand if you are a man,
It doesn’t always cross your mind, because usually you can,
Live a life without fear, anxiety or doubt
That someone will grab you, hurt you or worse,
Because they see taking your life more valuable than just your purse.
I know some men are attacked like us,
And I would not minimise your pain,
There are men that do this,
Then they ask for us to forgive,
Because it’s just how they are,
But spare us your far,
Far, flung lies
Keep up your flies
And hold your head in shame,
Don’t fight it or tell us to frame
Our opinions, because it wasn’t forced
As no means no,
Not not yet,
Not no of course.
Until you hear us, you spare us, you get it,
We will be afraid, we will stay together
In light and dark, in every weather.
And all the while we wonder if we did something wrong,
All because we wore a thong
Or maybe we didn’t. Perhaps we were a match
But that doesn’t meant you can attach
Graphic photos and ask us to reply
As really all we do is sigh
That yet again we’ve found another rotter.
Don’t take what isn’t yours
Don’t follow women through doors,
Leave them be, let them go home,
Let them feel safe, let them walk alone.
Read more about women’s issues here.