On March 3rd, 2021, British Marketing executive Sarah Everard went missing while walking home from a friend's house located in London. A week later, Everard's body was discovered in a wooded area near Kent and London Metropolitan police officer Wayne Couzens was later charged with her kidnapping and murder. Everard's death inspired a worldwide discussion about women's safety as well as the "97%" movement on Tik Tok, which refers to the percentage of young women in the UK who have experienced sexual harassment of some kind. The "97%" trend soon became an opportunity for all women to share their experiences with sexual assault and harassment, not just those residing in the UK.
Everard's death has sparked a worldwide discussion about women's safety. Still, the issue of women having to walk with car keys stuck between their knuckles or leaving a strand of their hair in an Uber should not be labeled as an "issue of women's safety." Instead, it should be labeled "an issue of male violence." Women do not invite violence by existing. Women do not ask to be harmed by what they choose to wear. It is not the fault of women for "not being careful enough" when walking alone - as was Everard. As put in The Guardian, "[Men] disappear from the discussion, they disappear from the language we use." Sexual assualt and rape are seen as a "women's issue" that they need to work on solving. The March 2021 article goes on to say, "We call it an 'abusive relationship' as though the relationship were doing the abusing, or an 'abusive home' as though the walls were insulting the occupants for fun." It is always "A woman was raped," not "a man raped her." Men are conveniently removed from the issues they are responsible for.It is by no doings of women that Amazon sells pepper spray and a stun gun disguised as lipstick. It isn't by the doings of women that nearly every girl I pass on campus has mace attached to their lanyard. Men need to take accountability for their actions and have self-control. Men need to hold their friends accountable if and when they say a sexist joke. No, "not all men," as is the typical response to a topic like this, but it's close to being all women. 97% of young women in the UK have experienced some kind of sexual harassment or assault, and in the US one out of six young women have experienced sexual violence. This is not a reality that women need to just accept, but a reality that men need to change.