I left my house, wearing jeans and a t-shirt. As I walked down the street, I heard someone catcall me. I felt uncomfortable. I felt unsafe. I felt dirty. I knew as well as anyone that this was not a one off; I was not in a unique situation.
For too long now, women and girls have had to deal with the constant worry of just walking down the road. We hear students, schools and even the government saying we need to start ‘open conversations’ about harassment but we’re still waiting. The horrific murder of Sarah Everard brought to light the severe anger and fear women have surrounding rape culture and safety, but in the last few months, the media has gone completely silent. Two weeks ago, Sabina Nessa, a primary school teacher, was found dead, the details of which are still under investigation. If the murders of multiple women is not enough to create change, then the burden must fall to us to act.
Change must happen now. We cannot sit back and watch the next generation be raised in the same, harmful society that we live in now. Yet the question remains: how do we create change? I agree, in the long term, it comes from conversations but currently the dialogues are happening in the wrong places. It’s all very well writing a feminist magazine for a feminist school like South Hampstead, but no change comes from that. To create a long term, meaningful understanding, we must engage with other viewpoints from a young age.
The problem with the culture we live in today is that too much gets pushed aside at a young age. We don't address problems when they arise; instead, we cover them up and address it when it's too late. We cannot live in silence, burying issues, and then act surprised when nothing changes. The conversations that we need to have can’t be aggressive, and they're definitely not designed to attack. They must be proactive, but they must also be supportive and sensitive.
So, what are we going to do about it? The Femguin Team actually pitched this idea to school; that we should start conversations with schools such as UCS to help form connections and build awareness and understanding of what girls go through on a daily basis. We were told that South Hampstead has initiated a programme of workshops to facilitate
these types of conversations between UCS pupils and South Hampstead pupils and this is a great first step to creating a better future for everyone.
The Everyone’s Invited movement has helped thousands of teenagers and young adults tell their stories and open up in a way we have never seen before. It's hard to talk, and put your thoughts out there, but these conversations need to happen. Talk to your parents, talk to your friends, talk to your siblings. The first step to a better future is to make people aware of how we feel and how unsafe we truly are. We cannot hide from the truth; we must work together to create a better future.