April 03, 2021 10:15 AM | by Mai Atef
What Can Be Done to Help Women Feel Safe in an Uncomfortable Situation
Almost every woman we know, including ourselves have been exposed to uncomfortable situations, sexual harassment and often terrifying experiences, just by leaving our house everyday, crossing the street or using public transportation, among many other things. We've been hearing of countless incidents and tragic crimes recently on social media and it has sparked a conversation of what men can do to help and of course what we can all do to help others, in general, and in these situations when we are present or happen to witness them.
Although what we're exposed to as women has made us very strong and resilient, it is still important and crucial for men in our society to understand the importance in their role of educating themselves, supporting women and standing up to predators, as we all should. Silence and ignorance will not help create change.
So we decided to ask women on our Instagram Stories, "What has someone done to make you feel safe in an uncomfortable situation?" We were inspired and empowered by the responses, narrating situations where men reacted and helped get them out of an unsafe situation, along with what they would want from people around, in order to feel more safe and supported. We thought this would be a good reminder and guide for men, as well as so many of us on how they can help a friend, a partner and of course a stranger.
1. Take a stand and take action
"A friend of mine kicked a man out of their house after he tried to sexually harass me at a party."
This reaction should be a given from anyone in any situation like this, happening to anyone. Unfortunately, sometimes people defend the harasser, especially if they know them, or when the woman decides to take a tough stance or report it to the police. This can be very problematic and can cause many women to withdraw from speaking out.
2. Understand what I'm going through
"All I ask is for him to accept my reaction and not to make me feel like i'm overreacting."
"I think the most important thing a man should do is to understand my feelings and worries when it comes to situations like these."
More than one girl agreed on how they need to feel support and understanding towards their feelings when she's exposed to an unsafe situation like this. We do not need the advice, we need people to educate themselves and understand the difficulties we go through on a daily basis. Blaming the woman, doubting her, or saying she's overreacting is not acceptable. Unfortunate so many people around us do this and it is important for them to stop, listen and work hard towards understanding. Imagine what it would feel like if you constantly feel unsafe and that at any moment you could be a victim to something horrific, traumatic and maybe even fatal.
3. Making women feel safe
"When I'm walking in the street, I get worried and anxious when a guy is walking behind me, and I appreciate when instead they come forward and walk in front of me so that I don't feel like someone's following me."
There are some really simple things that men can do that could really help with a women's comfort and feeling of safety. For example, leaving a narrow space so she can pass through comfortably, or avoiding walking behind her so she doesn't get anxious. You can even cross to the other side of the street. Also another thing that both men and women can do is that when they see a women or girl looking scared, stuck or uncomfortable during a conversation with a stranger in public, you can walk up and pretend to be a friend or family member to help her out of this situation, and so the guy can leave her alone.
4. Supporting a woman's freedom
"I was smoking a cigarette in the car with one of my friends, and a pickup truck with a lot of men in the back was in front and they could see us. They started clapping and making gestures at me. My friend drove away and tried to keep us away form them so I wouldn't feel comfortable."
We live in a society that unfortunately still sees a 'woman' smoking as something out of the ordinary and 'not right'. Our actions are constantly judged to the point where you could be called out for it or harassed in public. So instead of saying "You should probably not smoke in public," "Are you sure you want to take your bike?," or "Why not wear something a little less revealing," support her freedom, stand up for her and don't fault her for doing something a million men do, whatever that thing is.
5. Everyone needs moral support
"Sometimes we need simple words or actions, like "I understand how hard it must be for you" or even a phone call."
Again a lot of us developed a lot of strength and the power to try and deal as much as we can with this lack of safety we constantly feel, but EVERYONE in needs moral support and kindness, not only but especially after going through something this hard. We all through tough times, both men and women and we all get moments of sadness, fear and vulnerability. They do not make us weak, on the contrary, they help grow stronger. It is important to remember that the simplest words and gestures of support can make the biggest difference in how we feel.
"I have been subjected to a lot of injustice in my work field, just because I'm woman. I have a lot of male competitors, who used to criticize my work or present it in the names of other people. My manager helped handle this unfairness and took a tough stance against them."
There are still a lot of men who do not believe in equality between men and women, especially in the work field. Women are often criticized and discriminated against just for being female. For change to happen, every man must start with himself, support the women he works with, speak up when he witness any forms of discrimination and take any action he can.
Main Image Credits: Pixabay
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