TW: R*pe Statistics at the end
Women’s history month is about celebrating the incredible women who have made an impact, but whose achievements have been too often ignored due to misogyny.
Otto Hahn took credit for Lise Mietner's discovery of how to split atoms when she was fleeing for her life from Nazi Germany.
It was Nettie Stevens who discovered the connection between chromosomes and the determination of sex, but her mentor E.B. Wilson published her papers, making him regularly credited for the discovery.
We learn about Watson and Crick in GCSE Biology, for their discovery of double helix formation of DNA, when it was actually discovered by Rosalind Franklin. The irony of being taught about Watson and Crick in an all-girls school, where the houses were named after women whose successes were overlooked, has never failed to astound me.
Now, we have programmes to help women in STEM, International Women’s Day, and there is more recognition for women's successes, and we finally get to learn about what they have done for the world. I love the fact we have dedicated days and a month to celebrate women, but it feels like because of this, most men think things are all good for women. It was only when I would talk to my male friends that I began to realise that they have no clue what our every day is like. So, to any men still reading this, here are just some of the things I think you should hear.
I'm at the pub with my friends, one of my friends tells me she's going to the loo. Instinctively I get up to go with her, but not before we finish our drinks because god knows what someone could have put in them while we were gone. One of our male friends makes a comment about how women always go in packs, they laugh as we leave, but they don't realise it's the third most likely place for a woman to be attacked.
It's late as I leave work one night, I walk to my car, sans earphones, of course, even the police tell us that puts us in danger. I walk through the car park with my keys between my fingers. In my other hand, my phone, pre-dialled, ready to hit call if I feel like someone is following me, but otherwise not on it because we can't afford the distraction. I walk in as many well-lit areas as possible, hair never tied up because it's easier to be grabbed that way. I get to my car, stepping in from as far as I can, after I saw on the news some men hiding under cars, slitting women's ankles so they could not run and were easier to assault. I lock my car as soon as the door closes.
I’m driving. Alone. The same car has been following me the last few turns. It could be a coincidence. I keep driving. He’s still there. I am almost at my destination. I go to the nearest police station instead. He sees me pull into the car park, and speeds away.
I'm out, there's a man, following me. I make eye contact, and make it clear I know what he looks like well enough that I would be able to describe him. I ask him a question- something about the time, or a ticket machine being out of order, or any general small talk. Now that he knows I have seen his face and could identify him in a line-up, I know I lose appeal as a target.
I'm told this is irrational behaviour. One of my friends points out that it's not all men. I asked him if I had a revolver, would he play Russian Roulette. He looks at me like I’m crazy, before saying that he obviously would not. I point out that the chance of getting shot is 1 in 6. He tells me he knows. I tell him that for women, there is a 1 in 6 chance of being raped. He says nothing.