Women have to protect each other. We have to protect each other whenever and wherever we can. It's up to us to stand up for each other, to step up, and to speak up. Bad things happen to girls and women at parties, bars, malls, skating rinks, and even out in the open at restaurants while they're having dinner with a friend. Not all men are predators, rapists, or abusers, no one thinks that, but all women have or will be the victim of that kind of behavior. They will be called liars and disbelieved too many times. They will be shamed and blamed for what happens to them. They will be told how they could have stopped it and what they did wrong. I say screw that. Women can protect each other.
It pays to be aware of your immediate surroundings. It's essential. You need to be aware for your own safety and for the safety of the people you're with, but you're also helping the women around you when you're vigilant. You might spot someone dropping something into a woman's drink. You might see a man hovering a little too close. As you're walking to your car at night, you might spot a date going bad or suspicious activity in the shadows.
Call it women's intuition. Call it your sixth sense. Call it whatever you want, but you know the feeling. It doesn't always mean anything, but it often does. If something feels weird or wrong or scary, follow your gut. Pay closer attention to what's going on around you. Try to pinpoint the source of your feeling.
There's a reason for this: when you're looking at your phone, you're not paying attention to your surroundings. Browsing Facebook as you're waiting for the check might make you miss something suspicious or dangerous. Even if you just do a regular spot check, try to keep an eye on what's happening.
Occasionally, you have to spread your business around and you need to encourage other women to do the same. In fact, sometimes you have to name and shame some very deserving people. If you or someone you know has a story about encountering any men who exhibited inappropriate or dangerous behavior, I think you need to speak up to other local women. I think women on the internet should do the same because there are plenty of forums, apps, comment sections, and blogs where the same people regularly congregate.
Robbery and theft are real concerns, too, and there are plenty of opportunistic people in public places who pay attention to anyone flashing cash or valuables. Women cannot stop rapists by dressing differently, staying inside at night, or wearing makeup, but anyone can reduce the risk of being robbed if they avoid being seen with thick wads of money.
Literally, haha! But seriously, learning how to defend yourself involves many things. Not only can you learn how to immobilize and take down an attacker going after you or someone else, you can also learn techniques for dealing with panic and fear, which will allow you to make your adrenaline work for you. You'll have the know-how to help yourself and countless other women.
If you see something happening, say something. Shout it at the top of your lungs if you have to. Yell “Fire!” Find someone to tell if you can't stop the situation or intervene yourself. Maybe you need to follow the woman to the bathroom or find a way to get her alone. Do what it takes and say something.
We have to be there for each other. I know there are many, many amazing men who are there for us, too, men who watch out and speak up and help – these men far outnumber the creeps who do the sorts of things we need to watch out for – but women know the things to watch for, we know the fearful look in the eyes, we know the twitches of unease and discomfort. Listen. Eavesdrop, if you need to. Watch. Speak. Help.
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