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The Walk Home

I haven't written anything for a while, as I'm feeling more inclined to post for quality over quantity. Not that I haven't been having any ideas and inspiration, quite the opposite actually, but I've been waiting for when it feels most authentic.

But I certainly wasn't expecting to be inspired by something of this nature...

Like most women, I have been hit right to the core by events this week. I have been trying to process everything in my mind to try and find the words, when really, there aren't any amount of words that would do justice to how many women are feeling.

We started off the week on a positive note with International Women's Day, where there seemed to more of a buzz than usual, about woman being empowered, supported and celebrated for their worth; mostly by other women, but y'know girl power and all that!

24 short hours later, we're seeing headlines across multiple media platforms, trashing a woman for speaking out about her mental health and how she has been treated. To be labelled a liar and a manipulator instead of being shown empathy and compassion.

Then by the middle of the week, we're struck with the news that a woman, who had so much potential, who had so much to give, who had a future, who was just like any woman we all know and are, was simply not allowed to walk home.

Sarah Everard had done all the "right" things that us women have had engraved in our minds from a young age to do when walking anywhere alone, especially at night; wore bright clothing, stuck to busy & well lit roads and called someone during her journey, just to avoid being attacked. Yet sadly, this wasn't enough. None of this is enough.

An article this week shown that an absolutely staggering 97% of young women (18-24) and 80% of all women, have experience some form of sexual harassment. I'm sorry, but if that doesn't completely blow your mind and SCREAM for change, then there is something very wrong, because that statistic is something very wrong.

Why is it the women who are being told to change their behaviours to avoid being subject to abuse, harassment and objectification? Why is it that we are stripped of our basic human right to feel safe? Why is this just normal? Why is there a list as long as our legs that we are being told to cover up, of what we should do to prevent sexual harassment, when there is only one thing that can actually be done to prevent it - men not sexually harassing women.

I have spoken in previous blogs about what we can and can't control, the main thing being that none of us have any control over what another human being does, so how are we supposed to prevent anyone from anyone abusing us, when the problem lies with the source?

My conversations with the beautiful and powerful women in my life this week, have been filled with reflection of the harassment we have all experienced, and it's been through these conversations that we have realised how completely fucked up it is, that this is just the norm and accepted within our society. Stories of running home from bus stops, being inappropriately touched in what would even be considered as "innocent places", being followed around clubs with persistence, being the forefront of "lads chat" and the centre of a "joke", being victim blamed and slut shamed, being taken advantage of when we have been most vulnerable, just being a woman.

This isn't something new to us by any means, but the fact that we have had it conditioned into our heads from a young age that this is "just the way it is" is disturbing. It starts and ends, with boys being taught that they have no right to do whatever they want to girls. That they are not superior, that they are not a dominant gender, that they should not, can not and will not abuse, harass, rape or kill us.

We have been living through another global crisis which has been around for centuries upon centuries. Where women's human rights have been exploited because it would seem that this is a problem that is too big, too difficult or too late to solve. This should not be the way it is. I want to live in a world where myself and my best friends can have daughters who don't need to be taught what to do when walking the streets alone.

We accept and understand that it isn't "all men" but it is enough to live in fear and we shouldn't be praising the ones that don't behave in these ways because it shouldn't be happening in the first place. These men need to wake up to the reality that this is happening, whether you turn a blind eye to it or not. They should be having the difficult conversations with their friends, brothers, uncles, colleagues. They should be erasing slanderous and derogatory language about women from their vocabulary. They should be changing their mindset to see and treat women as their equals, no matter what.

Your acknowledgement on the matter over ignorance is crucial. Staying silent is part of the problem. How many times can you honestly say, that you have witnessed a man, whether you know them or not, abuse a woman, whether you know them or not, in any form? How many times have you been that man, whether it was intentional or not?

It is a fact, that our actions come from thought. This week has really lit a fire in me to somehow evoke change in whatever capacity I can. I don't know exactly how or by doing what at this particular moment, but I do know that I will do something, anything to be a part of something as important as this. It may take time, but everything, literally everything starts with one single thought, it's just how we turn those thoughts into action. My goal of helping to create a world where us woman can live in the comfort of safety from men may seem like a large and unmanageable task now for wee Nico in Edinburgh, but the belief that it can be done is the first baby step.

I speak now to anyone reading this who disagrees and invite them to turn inward and ask themselves "Why? Why am I feeling this resistance? What are the assumptions I am making about this situation? If this was happening to me or someone close to me, how would I feel, what would I do?" Create the environments for powerful thinking and conversations. That is where we start.

We can make change. We have to. We will walk home.

Keep on keeping on,

Nico x

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