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The student newspaper of Imperial College London

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Issue 1784 (PDF)
The student newspaper of Imperial College London

Keep the Cat Free

Stop Selling Us Our Safety

Women shouldn’t feel obliged to buy the freedom to walk around without fear.

Filip Mroz Mg9xdh3keeo Unsplash Photo: Filip Mroz on Unsplash


in Issue 1784

I’m writing this piece primarily about women’s safety on the streets, but also as another response to the comment piece ‘Is Modern-Day Feminism Flawed?’, which was published in Issue 1781.

First of all, the issue of women’s safety, and how it’s being addressed – a hot topic right now due to the increasing number of injected spikings being reported on nights out. Spiking in itself is a horrendous concept; that people would even consider poisoning others in order to take advantage of them is despicable. The recent injections that have been administered to many women and girls on nights out are even worse. It is almost impossible for a woman to protect herself against such a predator during tightly packed events in which both strangers and friends are mingling.

It is infuriating that in the past, and sometimes in the present as well, the excuses for women being harassed, abused, raped, and even murdered, have been that they were wearing too little, or asking for it, or that they shouldn’t have been intoxicated. A couple standout reports this year include Sarah Everard, who was falsely arrested, then raped, strangled, and burned to ash by a police officer, and Sabina Nessa, killed and left in a park. Both incidents occurred on short walks to or from home. The tables have turned slightly in such cases, with blame shifting marginally towards perpetrators and victims given a little more support, but this isn’t enough to keep women safe in the future.

When will the world realise that safety can’t continue to be sold commercially, and we should instead be trying to combat the root of the problem?

Of course, these cases do not apply strictly to the female race, although there is an overwhelming skew towards us. I won’t pretend that I’m not focusing on women in writing this piece either, but as a feminist myself, I am also taking into consideration the rights of countless other non-binary, and male, people who have to endure the same hardships. However, part of the reason why feminism focuses on women is that to reach gender equality, we are, along with non-binary people, the gender that requires more support.

Furthermore, the patriarchy is not a whimsical concept created by feminists, as the writer of the aforementioned article seems to believe, but an ingrained system of hierarchies and values that allow men to get away with and achieve much more than women in general. Fighting this in no way implies that ALL men escape hardship, but simply aims for gender equality in as many areas of life as possible. This argument was explained in Issue 1782’s ‘Is Modern-Day Sexism Flawed’, and Issue 1783’s ‘Men’s Issues are Real’, and it could be extended and explained much further, but back to my original topic:

Women have gone to many lengths to protect themselves and others through buying products such as rape whistles and alarms, concealed stun guns and pepper sprays, scrunchie drinks covers, self-defense rings, and even plastic ‘knuckles’ for shoes. The list goes on, and yet, drink spikers have risen above and beyond to find a way to dodge all of these devices.

Many women have also taken to catching taxis, Ubers, and Bolts more frequently, in order to avoid the dangers of taking public transport or walking outside at night. A non-profit organization has even been launched via Instagram (@homesafeldn) that is accepting donations on GoFundMe.com to help women pay for this transportation – a valiant gesture in theory, but then again, how many of those donations will come from other women? It is also not a failsafe solution, as being alone in a private car with a stranger driving it can turn out to be just as dangerous as being alone on the streets. During 2017 and 2018, Uber recorded that they had received nearly 6000 sexual assault reports in the U.S. (with passengers being the victim on most occasions).

The heartbreaking reality is a vicious cycle of oppression, in which the more outrageous the reported incidents become, the more important it is to hide out and protect ourselves from having the same thing happen to us. But women can’t hide forever and we should be free to go out at any time of day without feeling unsafe. There is even an argument that the recent university boycotts of clubs plays right into the hands of our oppressors. Apparently the current ‘solution’ to this is to feed money into the economy out of our own pockets (or bags and purses since females are generally not afforded the luxury of pockets; another ruse to drain our bank accounts). When will the world realise that safety can’t continue to be sold commercially, and we should instead be trying to combat the root of the problem?

Education in feminism and women’s rights at a young age needs to be much more concrete, explaining what exactly ‘feminism’ means, how to recognise when it is reasonable and when it isn’t, and showing how we should be treating women, and others in general. Feminism, put simply, is supporting women’s rights so that we may be held to the same standard as men – not above them. The term is partially misleading, however if one took the time to understand what it stems from, it is shocking that they could believe radicalism is the same thing as regular feminism.

I firmly believe that educating young people in their treatment of others is the most efficient route to, not only a more gender-equal society, but one more amenable to racial and cultural equality as well. There are an endless number of female (and non-female!) tribulations in our current society, and it would take many pages of writing to fully argue the validity of these, but I hope to have made at least a small dent in the discussion about women’s rights.

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