In Australia, 93% of ____________ are men.

Words by Michelle Andrews.

Tonight my sister commented that she ran from the train station to her car, because she was scared of being alone, in public, at night.

Stephanie Scott, a 26-year-old Leeton school teacher, was brutally killed by a male school-cleaner on Easter Sunday.

A 17-year-old school girl, Masa Vukotic, was murdered by a man on her way home from school last month.

Following her murder, women were advised by police that they “shouldn’t be alone in parks”.

1 in 5 women (compared to 1 in 22 men) have experienced sexual violence in their life.

Since 2003, 1052 Australian women have died as a result of male violence.

In Australia, 93% of sexual offenders are men.

I’m sure after reading those statements, some readers are currently picturing me taking a lesbian-lover, practicing bra-burning in my backyard and chasing random men down streets with a pitchfork in one hand and a flame-thrower in the other (I SWEAR I only do those things on the odd occasion.)

Whenever someone asks me if I believe in sexual equality – my answer is along the lines of: BLOODY HELL 1109% YES I DO, YOU TWIT. In other words, if I liked/was bad-ass enough to pull off tattoos, I’d probably have a Ben Cousins-esque tummy tattoo that read ‘such is sexual equality’ by now.

I know, I know, it’s such a shame that I have a bad-ass factor of approximately negative 16.

Embarrassing level of lameness/lack of street-cred aside, I am freaking proud that I advocate for sexual equality. I do now, I will tomorrow, and I will be until the day I take my last sip of Pepsi Max.

Why?

Because I am every bit as capable as a man.

Because I am every bit as intelligent as a man.

Because I deserve to have the same opportunities as a man.

Because I don’t believe there is currently equality between the sexes in our society, and I vehemently believe that there should be.

Because I don’t want to live in a society where I cannot be alone in a park, on a train, in a taxi, in a classroom, on the street, ANYWHERE without being seen as a target of violence. Because I don’t want to live in a society where I am constantly aware of the fact that a man may hurt me, may rape me, may kill me, simply because he is physically capable of doing so.

I now ask any man reading this to consider a time in his life when he too felt the same way. A time when he had cars slow-down or pull over “just to chat” when he went on a walk in broad daylight. A time he too pretended to be on a phone-call because he didn’t want the strange person at the train station to approach him. A time when he was so terrified at the thought of being alone in public he ran to his car. Men, when was the last time you were so scared, you ran? I would love for you to imagine how it feels, on a daily basis, to feel the constant threat of violence, to feel the fear that women do Every. Fucking. Day.

Here comes the man-bashing, the man-blaming, the man-hating… right?

Wrong.

Up until this very moment, I have been scared to write a blog-post about sexual equality out of the fear I would be ostracising myself from my male readers (yes, although few in number, apparently they do exist… but like men under the age of 50 named Gary, or cats named Thomas, or vegans with energy, they’re pretty rare).

Some guys look at me as if I have grown a second head when I begin talking about sexual equality. They get all twitchy and start planning their escape before they think I’ll whip out fully grown armpit hair and begin yelling about tampons and the evils of the patriarchy.

Despite my tendency to chase men with pitch-forks whilst screaming about tampons, I am the furthest thing from a man-hater. Why? Because some of the greatest, most inspiring, wonderful people in my life are men. I think that it is the great men of our society, the ones who respect and admire the equally great women around them, who need to start fighting this battle.

We need to understand that although violent attitudes towards women are not universal, changing them will require universal action.

We need men themselves to pose the question – what kind of society have we created where young women are so fearful they physically run from it?

Yes, we have seen dramatic improvements in establishing sexual equality throughout recent history. However, 93% of sexual offenders being men says something. It says that violence against women is an issue that is so far from over – it says that we have such a long way to go.

We desperately need to bring about change in the way women are considered, change in the way they are spoken to, change in the way they are treated. To look at those statistics and say “well that’s the way it has always been” is wrong. It is so wrong. We cannot, and should not, accept those statistics as concrete and unchangeable. We can change this, but we need to start now.

*Statistics were sourced from the 2015 Victorian Centres Against Sexual Assault (CASA) forum Fact Sheet and the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC)

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