This letter is a mental check in from me to you – how are you, really?
The headlines have been a hard one for us, especially in the last couple of weeks so through all of that tragedy, I’ve decided to pen this letter.
To start: the problem is not you. The problem is not us.
It never has been, and an issue that I’ve always had whenever situations such as this arise is that the conversation usually revolves around this. The conversation focuses on what women should do to prevent tragedies occurring in future, as opposed to identifying why they happened in the first place. It’s always the idea that the way we dress and act determines whether we are susceptible to violence against us. We’re taught that if we follow the unwritten rules, we’ll be safe.
Then you wake up. You wake up and realise that this isn’t foolproof and doing all these things doesn’t necessarily mean you are safe. You can do this and bad things may still happen. That was a hard pill to swallow because even when we’re doing what society expects us to do to keep ourselves safe, we’re still at risk.
The media and the Met Police have a way of making women feel as though there are always things that could have been done to prevent a terrible outcome. The truth is simple, bad people will do bad things irrespective of what we, women, do. It is from this point that we start to realise the focus shouldn’t have been placed on us in the first place. It should never have been down to women to make the world safer for us to navigate when we aren’t the ones posing the threat. Women can be afraid doing otherwise normal things – going for a walk, getting home late, taking a cab. We’ll second guess an outfit, a route choice and it’s exhausting to be afraid in situations that shouldn’t warrant fear.
While we’re all here, women also shouldn’t have to be in proximity to men in order for this issue to be seen for what it is – a real problem. It should not be because a woman is someone’s mother, sister or best friend that the need to protect us arises. It should be because we are people, and telling us to be careful will no longer cut it. We shouldn’t have to be careful. There simply should be better systems in place to protect women. Women should be heard when they raise concerns and appropriate measures following that should be taken.
With Sarah, Sabina, Miya and Toyin in mind, as well as the countless others, may these souls find peace. To my fellow women, we’ve been told for too long to live life carefully.
It’s time to change that conversation.
with all my love,