Life

Man asks what people do every day to prevent sexual assault – women respond accordingly

Posted by
Susan Devaney
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A social researcher has been carrying out an experiment into sexual assault and the results confirm what women have always known. 

It’s nearly been one year since the #MeToo movement was sparked, and at this point in time we’ve basically heard it all when it comes to sexual assault.

We’ve heard that several women who’ve come forward with their own horrific assault stories are lying. And we’ve watched with anger as courageous women have been publicly mocked for their bravery.

Thankfully, Jackson Katz, a social researcher and author of The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help (which was first published in 2006), has carried out a simple, yet brilliant, social experiment to prove how prevalent sexual assault is for women every day.

“I draw a line down the middle of a chalkboard, sketching a male symbol on one side and a female symbol on the other,” Katz explains in the preface of his book, as referenced by one user on Facebook.

“Then I ask just the men: What steps do you guys take, on a daily basis, to prevent yourselves from being sexually assaulted?

“At first there is a kind of awkward silence as the men try to figure out if they’ve been asked a trick question. The silence gives way to a smattering of nervous laughter,” Katz explains.

He continues: “Occasionally, a young a guy will raise his hand and say, ‘I stay out of prison.’ This is typically followed by another moment of laughter, before someone finally raises his hand and soberly states, ‘Nothing. I don’t think about it.’”

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However, to draw a stark comparison, Katz then poses the exact same question to the women in the room.

“Women throughout the audience immediately start raising their hands. As the men sit in stunned silence, the women recount safety precautions they take as part of their daily routine,” says Katz.

And their answers make for an extensive list:

  • Hold my keys as a potential weapon.
  • Look in the back seat of the car before getting in.
  • Carry a cell phone.
  • Don’t go jogging at night.
  • Lock all the windows when I sleep, even on hot summer nights.
  • Be careful not to drink too much.
  • Don’t put my drink down and come back to it; make sure I see it being poured.
  • Own a big dog.
  • Carry Mace or pepper spray.
  • Have an unlisted phone number.
  • Have a man’s voice on my answering machine.
  • Park in well-lit areas.
  • Don’t use parking garages.
  • Don’t get on elevators with only one man, or with a group of men.
  • Vary my route home from work.
  • Watch what I wear.
  • Don’t use highway rest areas.
  • Use a home alarm system.
  • Don’t wear headphones when jogging.
  • Avoid forests or wooded areas, even in the daytime.
  • Don’t take a first-floor apartment.
  • Go out in groups.
  • Own a firearm.
  • Meet men on first dates in public places.
  • Make sure to have a car or cab fare.
  • Don’t make eye contact with men on the street.
  • Make assertive eye contact with men on the street.

And people have commented on the Facebook post in a positive manner.

“I wish all men would read this,” one user wrote.

“And as I read that list, I’ve realised how many of those things I just do out of habit. And what I’ve taught my daughter to do,” another posted.

It would be interesting to know if men are more aware of these daily precautions women take, 12 years after the social experiment was first carried out, and 12 months on since the #MeToo movement went global.

Images: Unsplash / Getty 

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Susan Devaney

Susan Devaney is a digital journalist for Stylist.co.uk, writing about fashion, beauty, travel, feminism, and everything else in-between.

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