Friday, 7 February 2014

Stay Safe

I was quite happily drunk texting my boss and browsing Facebook, when I stumbled upon one of those posts that made me simultaneously rub my hands in glee and groan internally.

The post was a link to the Nottinghamshire Police website, about three women who had been "assaulted". My contact had written underneath it, "stay safe". A chance to open a dialogue on language, victim-blaming, responsibility and so much more... fantastic! Another article telling us women to behave nicely and be good little girls...? Not so much.

So we started talking. Talking about why it's important to remember that the male perpetrators of violence are at fault, why women shouldn't be told to stay sober, stay in herds, stay properly dressed... Talking about how society has conditioned us into these subconscious implications that women are to blame for the violence against them.

Then I read the article.

Instantly, I was horrified. Actually, I think I've been trained to be horrified by anything written by Nottinghamshire Police - they don't have the best record with male violence towards women (Christmas campaign, anyone?). And after yesterday's ridiculous Question Time with George Galloway (who seems oblivious to the technicalities of the legal system), I was already on high alert.

Walk in well-lit areas. Keep handbags buckled. Walk with other people. The article barely stopped short of warning against short skirts and red wine.

It was pointed out to me that all the advice offered was gender-neutral, important safety advice for all people. Yet it was handbags prioritised, not rucksacks. And when was the last time that men were advised not to walk alone? I don't accept this idea that it was aimed at everyone - far more likely that we've been conditioned to roll over. But that could be the drink talking.

Yes, there is some advice that is basic crime prevention - keep valuables out of sight and be aware of your surroundings. But we do need to consider the message being spread, particularly when the police are asking for women to share the message to "stay safe".

What are your views on safety messages?

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