This is a status i posted on Facebook today which i thought would be a bit more easy to share as a blog post and i hope that men [in particular] who agree with what is written here, will share it on your wall and via your Twitterer accounts as a sign of saying you agree and are committed to being part
Menfolk, listen up.
On more than one occasion, my wife, Valerie, has been out enjoying a drink, maybe listening to a band or just hanging by herself in a bar or restaurant and a guy [or guys] have invaded her space with an air of entitlement [something gives me the right to approach a single woman and enter her space]
Point number 1: the problem is NOT because she’s married – all that adds to the issue is that there is going to be one extra angry person when the story is told. The reasons it is not okay to insert yourself in a woman’s space is not only because she is married or in a relationship.
A guy has said he will buy her a drink or joked with his friend that this is his future wife or just dived into the space [sitting at her table] and started speaking to her as if he was welcome.
When she has made it clear that he is not welcome, he has carried on, ignoring her and on occasion there have been inappropriate statements made etc etc
Point number 2: No means no. Don’t assume someone is flirting with you or playing hard to get. Whatever the “No!” is and relates to, that should be final. Apologise, move along, stop doing what you are doing, physically remove yourself from the space.
The third point has to do with the power dynamic that typically is at play in those kinds of interactions where physically and societally the man holds the power and so there is an inherent pressure that exists – the woman should not have to be the one exhibiting strength to remove herself from a situation that might feel scary or unwelcome. Men, we need to get that. At the moment in society we carry a certain power and when we insert ourselves into someone’s space there is the additional fear that accompanies that of “What if I say no? Will this man turn violent? [in words or actions]
The fourth point is that for the very first time the other night when i was walking through town with Val i experienced a man on the opposite side of the street wolf whistling at her. i have heard her tell stories of it happening on multiple occasions and so i know it to be true, but this was the first time i was there – which didn’t make it any worse – it is about as awful a thing as can be – but it really broke me to know that Val and other women have to endure this all the time.
Point number 4: It is not a compliment to whistle at someone across the street or even i think [women can help me on this one] to pay a compliment to someone you don’t know [can also feel invasive and threatening] – it can be a fearful thing because the woman doesn’t know what will accompany the unwanted attention – will you follow her, will you attempt to do anything to her… so keep your whistles and your “Hey Beautiful”s to yourself.
Women in this country live with so much fear and we really need to do better as men at #NotOnOurWatch‘ing those kinds of things when we see them. Guys, if you are in a space and you see other guys [whether you know them or not] doing these kinds of things, inserting themselves in situations and the woman looks uncomfortable, then please dive in. Assert yourselves. Use that power for good. Redirect.
Race issues in South Africa continue to be huge and in need of work but at the same time [Both/And in play here once more] we guys need to be dismantling the patriarchy – we can handle meetings and conversations and general friendship vibes another day. But let’s start with these.