97% of women in the UK claimed to have experienced sexual harassment. That’s your daughter, your sister, your wife, your mother, your friends. In spite of their relationship to you, they’re human; they’re victims of a terrible societal situation- a situation which forces them to alter and adapt their lives for their own safety. Women are told to follow a strict set of rules, ingrained into their very existence- just to protect them from the power some men believe they hold over women. This movement against harassment and assault toward women is currently occupying social media and the support from women is monumental; nevertheless, there is opposition- people unwilling to accept the issue, arguing that it is ‘not all men’. 

This is a human rights crisis. It’s just not enough for us to keep saying ‘this is too difficult a problem for us to solve’- it needs addressing now,"- Claire Barnett, executive director of UN Women UK, to the Guardian Newspaper.

The phrase ‘not all men’ has become popular amongst the opposition of this movement- an attempt to decriminalise and shift the blame off of their selves. However- is this really fair? What gives these men the authority to judge if they’ve ever made a woman feel uncomfortable, harassed or even unsafe? Sophie Davis commented, “saying not all men isn’t right. As women and allies, we know that not all men are doing these things, but too many of them are. If they aren’t directly harassing/assaulting people, they are likely staying quiet. And men’s silence right now is really loud.”. 

Men's silence right now is really loud.

On the other hand, some men believe they are being unfairly stigmatised for the behaviour of others, for example, Joseph Miller: “I believe men are being unfairly treated, we should be educating and creating an equal discussion rather than ridiculing men for social norms. I don’t believe I have witnessed anyone being sexually harassed.”. It could be argued that the denial of this movement stems from ignorance of what sexual harassment actually covers- it could include comments or jokes, physical behaviour, touching, sharing photos- an entire myriad of actions. The fear of men is certainly justified, as explained by Mia Bragger, who commented; “you wouldn’t assume that it is safe to play Russian roulette just because 5/6 of the chambers are empty, but it’s ‘unfair’ to have a fear of being sexually assaulted when it happens to a third of women.”.

You wouldn't assume that it's safe to play Russian Roulette just because 5/6 of the chambers are empty.

Only 4% of women actually report incidents of sexual harassment. This could be because they don’t feel as though their experience is valid in seeking for help, for fear of what may happen if they speak up, or distrust in the system, as well as a variety of other reasons. The movement against this, however, is giving women an opportunity to be more vocal about their fears and experiences. Katy Jones, a student, expressed, “I am so glad this is happening- I travel to college every day and feel so anxious from just existing as a woman. I have a constant target on my back and always have to worry about who is potentially around me.”. Izzy Freshwater also commented “In the long run, the assault/harassment breaks your soul entirely.”; sexual harassment doesn’t just affect sexuality- it affects confidence, mental health and self-image. Objectifying a woman and treating her as though she is just a sexual object ultimately destroys how she sees herself, making it hard for her to believe she can be anything but a toy for male fantasies. Let's empower our women, instead of being destructive.

I have a constant target on my back. 

This movement- although positive in its intention- is certainly overdue, with women taking extreme precaution throughout the entirety of their lives for hundreds of thousands of years. A student, Mia Bragger said, “it upsets me to see the number of opposing views to the movement; social media has been flooded with uneducated (politically and socially) cisgender men using any excuse to undermine women’s trauma around the subject. Particularly using other men’s trauma as a way to deter from the core message (that men are the perpetrators). Yes, it’s not all men, but it’s too many to be ignored.”. Kitty Smith also added “the time that it’s taken to get to this point is ridiculous- I have never once been completely certain on making it home or had my safety guaranteed at a party”. Walking alone shouldn’t be a high-risk gamble for anyone.

A woman is killed by a man every 3 days in the UK. This is a crucial issue that needs to be tackled immediately- but how? Elements of sexual harassment are so ingrained and prevalent in our ‘societal norms’, so to defeat this, everyone must be on board. Isabella Dryden, a student from Essex, suggested, “Men need to be educated. It’s that simple and it is vital that they learn how unsafe women feel all the time.”. Taylor Adams also suggested that we “make it the norm to call out guy friends instead of egging each other on”- highlighting the immensely toxic attitudes of “boys will be boys” and the prevalence of toxic masculinity, both of which normalise sexual harassment to an extent. Contrastingly, Isabelle White believes “there are many small and big things that men have to do to solve it, however it won’t work as men aren’t listening and don’t understand the severity of the situation.”; the only way change will be made is if men aid women in pushing for change.

This isn’t an issue of men VS women; it’s everyone VS abusers. However, without ALL men taking responsibility for the safety of women and the behaviour of those around them, nothing will change

 

I surveyed over 100 people of all ages and genders for the statistics and comments in this article. These figures are correct as of the time of writing. The 97% statistic is taken from YouGov.