Wrote this little piece back in May time, when the global pandemic had essentially shut down the world. After a few months in isolation, these were my thoughts on the whole thing.
Right now it seems like a lifetime ago, but in reality not much has changed. Corona Virus is very much still an issue, it hasn’t gone away. And I’m wondering to myself whether I feel safer now, or back then, when the world was too scared to get close to each-other…
Keep your distance, please
I’ve said this sentence many times throughout my life. At nightclubs, in bars, on busy tube rides, cramped bus journeys, even in school corridors and at family friends house parties. I’ve had boss’ at work slide past me too closely, men press themselves against me on the train or touch my back and grab my hips to move around me in crowded aisles and corridors.
Throughout my teenage years myself and my girlfriends got used to the male gaze. Being stared at and shouted to from open car windows and vans beeping as they drove past, was completely normalised. In fact, if we reacted to it at all, we were over-reacting.
I sometimes wanted the ground to swallow me up. I would have wished for social distancing, so I knew some of these men couldn’t come any closer.
Keep your distance, please!
This simple sentence has never held much power, mainly only women have been used to saying or thinking it regularly, until Covid-19. Now everybody keeps their distance. And I haven’t felt safer.
It’s strange to understand this feeling of being safer as a woman during a global pandemic. Social distancing has made people listen when I ask them to stand back, as if asking to feel safer just as a woman wasn’t enough. I don’t have to worry about anyone arguing back or telling me I’m overreacting or telling me to “cheer up, love, it’s only a laugh.”
Social distancing is lonely, it’s hard not to see and spend time with loved ones, to look after grandparents, to carry on with life and work as normal. But nothing is normal about Covid-19.
Nothing is normal about sexual harassment.
I long for the day I can embrace my loved ones again, but I am anxious for the moment social contact is reintroduced. I hope we gain a respect for each-other through this and learn to question more and to understand consent better.
All I ask is that you take it as seriously as social distancing – helping save the lives of thousands of people by keeping your distance. Because 1 in 5 women in the UK have been sexually assaulted, and we didn’t ask for you to come any closer.