Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault
“Not all men,” a saying that victims have been hearing for way too long. With the recent abduction and murder of Sarah Everard, the phrase has somewhat resurfaced. However, women are refocusing the message on how 97% of women have been sexually assaulted in some form.
There is a trend on TikTok where women of all ages post videos describing their experience with sexual assault. They are shared under the hashtag “#97percent.” Under this tag, stories can be heard of women recounting their experiences with sexual assault where some victims were as young as nine years old.
These horrifying stories allow the viewers to understand that the saying “not all men” can be spun around the other way to say, “97% of women,” or almost all of women have experienced assault at the hands of a man.
Victims have been told time and time again that they could have avoided the trauma if they dressed differently, not gone out that late at night, stayed in a group and stayed in well lit areas. Sarah Everard did almost all of that. She was walking home from a friend’s home around 9 p.m. on a busy street and wearing very modest clothing that covered her completely, but she was still abducted and murdered by a police officer. So the next time I hear someone respond to someone else’s assault telling them they should have behaved with more caution, I will remind them of this case, proving that it does not matter what you wear, where you go or what time it is. If you are at all vulnerable you can be at risk.
When will society change this narrative — that women need to be safer rather than that men need to not assault people? There have been too many occurrences of women being blamed for their own assault. Although I agree that yes, it is not all men that commit these heinous crimes, statistically, it is usually men that are to blame.
Women have been forced to change their behaviors to curb the actions of men, an indisputable fact, but, that is not how our society should work. A woman should be able to dress in any way she chooses. Clothing, or lack of clothing, does not make it ok for someone to sexually harass or assault you. Men should be taught at a young age about consent, and that women are not objects that are there for their pleasure.
Think back to elementary school: how many times have you been told to change your shirt because it showed your shoulders, or to change your shorts because they do not fit the “three finger rule.” This was done because if your shorts were too short or your shoulders showed it would distract others, specifically boys. This unfair rule was one-sided.
This is a call for society to begin teaching boys at a young age that they need to understand consent and that women are not objects. Women and men should be free to dress as they please, go out whenever they want and not have to look over their shoulders and be in constant fear of their lives.